A recent article from the Idaho Statesman sheds interesting light on how corporations in general — and Micron Technology in particular — react to the supposed “rising tide” of lawsuits now threatening such companies.

In a remarkably candid story, the article reports that while lawsuits are expensive and distracting, companies such as Micron now view them as “a routine part of doing business in today’s technology industry.” According to the article, “industry analysts and financial experts aren’t particularly concerned.” One key reason for this is that companies are more concerned with loss of market share rather than money per se. According to one analyst who covers Micron, “We don’t get into issues that don’t affect the competitive balance of the company … It’s not going to dramatically affect Micron’s market share.”

Finally, the article notes that, while Micron Technology is currently on the receiving end of patent infringement lawsuits, the company still obtains some 1700 to 1800 patents of its own per year and isn’t shy about enforcing them.

Commentary:

What’s interesting and significant about all this is that litigation may not actually be as threatening as companies would have the public believe. So long as everyone in the industry is treated more-or-less equally, and — importantly — any resulting costs can ultimately be passed on to consummers, little long term threat to the company actually exists. Market share is ultimately what it’s all about.

This should be kept in mind by anyone contemplating enforcing a patent against a large company. Settlement is much more likely to result if royalties can be passed on to consumers rather than come directly out of company coffers. Settlement is also much more likely to result if companies do not feel they are being singled out and are confident their competitors will be paying royalties too.

Ultimately, companies can’t have it both ways. They cannot expect a legal system to provide meaningful protection for their own ideas while denying similar protection for the ideas of others. This article suggests that companies, such as Micron Technology, understand and accept this reality.

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Photo of Philip P. Mann Philip P. Mann

Philip P. Mann is a trial lawyer with over twenty years experience litigating patent, trademark, trade secret, and other intellectual property matters throughout the country.
Mann’s trial work has taken him to various federal and state courts where he’s tried both cases to…

Philip P. Mann is a trial lawyer with over twenty years experience litigating patent, trademark, trade secret, and other intellectual property matters throughout the country.
Mann’s trial work has taken him to various federal and state courts where he’s tried both cases to the court (a judge) as well as before juries. In addition to trial court work, Mann has performed appellate work before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Mann began his legal career in Chicago and Milwaukee before heading to Seattle where some of America’s most innovative companies were developing new technologies at breakneck speed. Before founding his own firm, he was a member of the Seattle Intellectual Property Law Firm, Christensen O’Connor Johnson Kindness.
Mann is an “AV” rated lawyer by Martindale Hubbell, indicative that he has reached the height of professional excellence and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity.
He holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois (Urbana) and received his law degree from the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri. He is admitted to practice in the States of Illinois and Washington, as well as before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and in various courts around the country.