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How Many Patents Make a “Patent War”?

When I speak on today’s “smart phone war,” I often point out to the surprise of my audience that such patent wars are nothing new.  Patent scholars call these wars by the more boring label of a “patent thicket” (proving once again that geeks like us just don’t know how to coin a good phrase).  My research into the very first patent thicket — the Sewing Machine War of the 1850s — has made me the “sewing machine guy” in the patent and tech law world.  I don’t mind; as I recently pointed out, as have others, there have been many patent wars since the 1850s, including the “diaper wars” and “stent wars” of the 1980s, which are all very well known within patent law circles. I must admit that I prefer being the “sewing machine guy” to being the “diaper guy.”

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