A considerable amount has been written about the differing business environments and conditions in markets around the world. The impact on culture is an issue that has received great attention from me because it directly affects communication and the ways in which people in the different markets experience businesses' products and services. Further, culture can impact the established structures in societies. Different countries have differing regulations, varying legal interpretations, and ultimately, potentially dissimilar and thus challenging political or judicial structures.
This is clearly evident in the various markets around the world where patent law differs one context to the next, leaving the potential for a great number of infringement claims, suits, and ultimately, disruptions to business. The latest example is Microsoft and Motorola Mobility in Germany. Motorola Mobility has requested a court in Mannheim, Germany to halt the distribution of Microsoft's Xbox video-game system as well as its Windows 7 computer operating system as Motorola contends these products use a type of video streaming that Motorola owns. As a result, Microsoft is moving its logistics and distribution headquarters to a location in the Netherlands in large part due to the possibility of an unfavorable ruling in Germany.
Patent Disputes As Strategy
This development brings patent law to the forefront as well as the strategic use of various infringement processes by different companies to disrupt the operations of competitors. Claiming infringement by a company can slow them down, spur them to spend time and resources away from their main operations, distract their goals, change the product in question, or halt the product all together. This is being used at an increasing rate by tech companies particularly in the mobile phone sector.
Analysts contend that this also slows innovation from companies as the development of newer technologies is impeded by the patent restrictions and redesigning alternatives for them. Still further, the customers are the ones that miss out on the advancements in devices that do not reach the shelves or are slowed in production accounting for redesigns that may deliver lesser performance. If infringement is truly experienced, then this is necessary, but often this process is experienced with just the claim, before any infringement is proven.
The German Example
Patent law in Germany makes it easy for companies to stop the sale of a competitor's product often before the patent infringement is confirmed. Nokia, Samsung, and Apple are three other companies that have been involved with patent litigation in the country within the past two years. All of this activity brings to light the reality of the German judicial system and its current laws regarding patents.
Businesses across sectors from SEO companies working to bring clients' page rankings higher and using integrated marketing software to technology companies manufacturing their new innovative products, need to analyze and understand how these laws impact their operations. Companies with operations in Germany or that are expanding into this market need to assess their patent vulnerability and take steps to make any necessary product changes on their own terms.