yARN: 2012, and the titillation of litigation

yARN: 2012, and the titillation of litigation

The most exciting IT news stories this year are likely to be found in a court room

The Mayans thought the world would end this year. For some technology companies that could well be the case, with the battle for success moving from the marketplace to the courtroom.

After a huge 2011, lawyers for major technology companies must be licking their lips at the prospect of gigantic retainers and exorbitant fees. Led by the epic Apple vs Samsung battle - which last year saw the Galaxy Tab 10.1 initially banned from sale in Australia before the decision was overturned in December - major tech companies are fighting legal skirmishes all around the globe.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a large proportion of the current lawsuits being fought involve Apple. Whether it’s Apple suing another company for patent infringement (hello Samsung, HTC and Motorola) or being sued itself (hi Motorola, Samsung and Kodak), the festive season did little to stop the Cupertino company’s aggressive legal approach to defending its intellectual property.

In fact, if anything the Christmas break has made the prospect of litigation even more appealing to Apple, with the company stepping up its fight against Samsung this week by trying to get the Galaxy Nexus banned from sale in the US. Given that some of the alleged patent infringements relate to the Android platform rather than the Galaxy Nexus itself, the results of these battles could have huge implications in the world of smartphones over the coming years.

Closer to home, the Apple/Samsung war continues, but is supported by a range of other technology related lawsuits to keep tech and court reporters on the edge of their seats. While Optus recently won its battle against the AFL and NRL over its Cloud-based television streaming application TV Now, the appeals process is well underway, and could go all the way to the High Court over the next couple of years.

And while we’re on the issue of the High Court, 2012 will be the year we can expect to hear the final verdict in the long and fiercely fought war between iiNet and AFACT about an ISP’s legal obligations to deal with copyright infringement online. It’s a decision that could change the way the country consumes content, and will have long-reaching implications regardless of which way the verdict lands.

Throw in the media circus that will follow the New Zealand extradition and subsequent US legal proceedings against MegaUpload kingpin, Kim Dotcom, and the most exciting news stories this year are likely to be found in a court room. Which is ultimately an exceptionally sad state of affairs for technology companies and their customers, given the amount of money companies are pumping into lawyers pockets instead of R&D.

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