America’s tech giants have achieved an astounding level of market dominance. Google accounts for about 90% of web searches globally, Amazon controls 44% of the e-commerce market, and Apple reports more revenue from its iPhone than the rest of the smartphone industry combined.
These tech leaders were once in the business of actually inventing things. But these days, these colossal companies shore up their supremacy by other means. They acquire and kill competitors and copy other companies’ products, sometimes spending more on legal battles than research and development.
Armed with battalions of lawyers and unmatched financial reserves, U.S. tech leviathans use their position to swipe intellectual property from smaller competitors.
In 2013, Sonos partnered with Google to integrate the search engine’s music service with Sonos’ wireless smart speakers. Google introduced a competing wireless home speaker–with suspiciously similar capabilities to the Sonos device–just a few short years later.
The Google speaker didn’t just seem similar: It relied on patented technology Sonos had developed.
As of 2020, Google was defending a total of 48 IP cases, clear evidence that its approach to other company’s patents is to steal first, fight it out in court later–which will only ever happen if the other company has the resources to sue. In recent years, numerous plaintiffs have accepted settlements in IP cases brought against Google, rather than spending the time and money fighting in court.
Google and other tech giants have determined that the potential benefits of pilfering intellectual property outweigh the potential costs of litigation.