The slugfest of patent litigation unleashed by Apple related to Google’s Android operating system has proved to be frightfully expensive. Samsung, HTC and other companies are up in arms. Quoting Prof. Mark Lemley of Stanford Law School, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, April 2, 2012 at 63 said “these companies have paid their lawyers more than $400 million” over the past several years.
The hundreds of millions paid law firms represent only part of the legal department costs, to be sure. For this blog post, however, the exorbitant cost is not the point. The point is that when CEOs decide to pursue high-stakes business strategy with many tools, including litigation, the general counsel carries part of the water, extremely costly water. How can anyone hold a general counsel to a “budget” if crucial decisions depend less on legal analysis of rights and potential recoveries than on multi-front competition that transcends mere litigation?