The Mobile Patent Mexican Standoff

Apple's patent theft accusations against HTC got a lot of press this week, as they should! But it's just the most recent case in a gun-slinging mobile landscape riddled with patent lawsuits. This'll end about as well as Reservoir Dogs.

The NY Times breaks it down today with this handy chart of who's suing whom. Nokia has been particularly active, along with Kodak. The biggest target? Apple.

Companies sue each other over intellectual property all the time, of course. But this volume of mobile technology patents is unusually high. According to the Times:

Although patent litigation is not new in the technology world, these suits, specifically around mobile, point to the drastically changing mobile landscape. Lawyers I spoke with explained that mobile technology is still in its infancy and these large computing companies are trying to stake their claim to the future of computing.

Basically, it's a land grab. Companies that know they're being left in the dust (Nokia, Kodak) are scrambling to assert any claims that they can, while market leaders (Apple) become fat targets.

Where does that leave the us? For now, nowhere. Business as usual. But if things keep escalating, the consequences could range from companies passing legal fees onto the consumer to ITC-imposed product bans. In these kinds of gun fights, it's rare that anyone wins. [NY Times]