The patent wars are getting ridiculous. So Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) filed some papers to support Android handset maker HTC's right to import phones into the U.S., even if they are found to infringe on some Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) patents.
That's when I was struck by a flash of inspiration. What if these back-and-forths in American and international courts might inspire someone like Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI ) or some brand-new upstart to build a handset within U.S. borders? I mean, listen to Google's motivation for allowing HTC to step on Apple's toes:
Apple is the largest seller of mobile computing devices in the U.S. Allowing this supplier to eliminate the competition from a fast-moving maverick competitor could drive up prices, diminish service, decrease consumers' access to the technology, and reduce innovation.
On the flip side of that argument, not worrying about import bans would lower prices, improve service, increase our access to new technology, and boost innovation. Oh, and the move would create high-quality American jobs, too. Beautiful, no? Maybe Samsung and HTC could build factories over here as well, not to mention Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) .
But then reality sets in. Building phones domestically is one thing, but then you'd have to import the components. Who's to say that Apple, Intellectual Ventures, InterDigital (Nasdaq: IDCC ) , or perhaps even tiny VirnetX (AMEX: VHC ) couldn't impose the same import bans on wireless radio chips or memory subsystems? And then we're back to square one with high prices and slow innovation. And it'll be a hot day in Anchorage before we get component makers to build factories on American soil.
Kind of makes you wonder what would happen if you applied the patent standards from the wireless industry to other fields. How often do you see Ford suing Hyundai for having the temerity to include brakes and a steering wheel in the Equus or Azera? Sounds insane, but that's the level of basic necessities you see argued in some of these patent disputes.
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