Bloomberg reports Apple and Google have been watching a U.S. Supreme Court case that has been trying to make it easier for companies to collect legal fees, after they successfully fought off patent infringement lawsuits. The winners of the case would be able to more easily collect fees from the losers of the case, with ramifications for Apple and Google.
In a hearing held today in Washington, the justices tried to decide how to lower the amount of meritless lawsuits, started normally by patent trolls. Several companies, including Apple and Google, have been urging the court to lower the bar for awarded fees. Justice Antonin Scalia has voiced some concerns, saying:
“Large businesses could use their patents in a “shakedown” to drive smaller competitors out of the market.”
Justice Stephen Breyer said:
“It may be a small slice of litigation, but it’s a small slice that costs a lot of people a lot of money. The current standard of awarding fees leaned pretty much against the person who was sued.”
According to a report from the White House, over 100,000 companies were threatened in 2012 by patent trolls who call the companies to court over infringement lawsuits. The purpose of these patent trolls is to make money.
For every case that reaches court, Apple says, it gets dozens of letters demanding royalties.
Tech companies like Apple and Google have been constantly fighting to get rid of patent trolls, arguing that they waste precious court time. Within the past five years, both Apple and Google have been sued over 125 times by these companies and individuals seeking to gain most of their money from patent licensing and enforcement.