Jan 27 2009
The so-called iPhone-patent with the number 7,479,949 has been approved. But I think that in reality Apple has received a patent for a lot of stuff that can – and will be – invalidated because of “prior art” should Apple ever try to enforce this patent in a court of law. For example, that screen-turning feature that is also covered by this patent has been around in displays of various sizes since the 1990s. It’s hardly anything new or patent-worthy.
Nevertheless, Tim Cook, Apple’s COO, recently said that they (Apple) “like competition, as long as they dont rip off our IP. And if they do, we’re going to go after anybody that does.”
Now don’t we all remember the last time when Apple had such a big mouth when they sued Microsoft and everybody else who had a mouse in their basement and a trash bin near their desk until kingdom come? Apple almost went bankrupt over their own idiocy at the time and eventually they did not win any lawsuit at all, but had to settle for a few bread crumbs in order to save their own company.
But it’s ironical that a company that has been sued by The Beatles, Cisco and several others for the illegitimate use of their trademarks and that also has been “borrowing” many designs, ideas and concepts from others (for example Braun, Konfabulator, Rank Xerox) is so sue-happy when it is afraid that someone might “rip off” its “intellectual property”.
The difference today is that Apple has more than 25 billion US Dollars of cash in their bank accounts, which the corporation did not have in the 1990s. So my guess is that Apple will now do what most patent trolls are doing: Sue smaller companies until they no longer have money to defend themselves against the lawsuit and have to give up and file for bankruptcy. At the same time, Apple will negotiate patent settlement deals with the big fishes in the pond who are the same size of Apple or too big for them, like Microsoft. Apple is a very sue-happy company, so this basically is old business and old news. It still makes me feel a bit sad and angry at the same time that we still allow bullies to behave like this in our so-called modern societies.
Anyway, as a more general conclusion I think that it is time to dispose of the entire patent system as we know it. All it does is protect the big money, create jobs for lawyers and hinder innovation.