Opinions and Editorials

Aug. 5, 2022

Harvard Business Review: Big Tech Has a Patent Violation Problem by Paul Michel

For years, major American tech companies have complained about the threat of intellectual property theft. The U.S. government has projected that Chinese companies flouting IP protections costs the American economy as much as $600 billion every year. But this problem of companies ignoring patents and other IP protections isn’t just a cross-border issue — there’s a similar issue right here in the U.S. If major tech companies seem less concerned about IP violations closer to home, that might be because in these cases they’re often the perpetrators, not the victims.

For example, in January, the United States International Trade Commission, a quasi-judicial body that oversees trade enforcement matters, found that Google infringed on multiple patents held by the speaker maker Sonos. The commission gave Google 60 days to implement software updates to remove the stolen technology or else face a ban from importing a range of its products — including its Google Home smart speakers and Pixel phone — and selling them here in America. Google complied, at the cost of removing features and reducing the functionality of the products.

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