19:43 03rd Sep, 2012
Apple On The Rampage: Wants Galaxy S3 To Die
…Courtesy an outdated patent system.
A few days ago, Apple wanted eight older Samsung models – including the Galaxy S2 – off the market. Amending the patent infringement complaint, Apple now wants newer models as well – including the Galaxy S3 – included in the list of offending models.
Apple is technically correct in its arguments; let's summarise what's not correct about the case as a whole:
Innovation. If Apple manages to get what it wants, it would be a blow – minor or major – to innovation in the tech space. After all, you can't build something like a phone from scratch; you have to build upon at least some elements that already exist. And when you begin that process, you'd have to think more than twice – lest you be sued.
The problem of subjectivity. A court in South Korea ruled, unlike the US court that belted out the landmark $1 billion verdict, that Samsung had not copied Apple's icons and some other interface elements.
The supplier relationship. The fact that Samsung supplies chips for Apple makes the case rather more complex. Still, we'd guess that Apple has some Plan Twos here.
Common knowledge. Some elements of usability and design are common knowledge, and some are taught in academic courses – design, computer graphics, even in the arts. If you use a known principle, are you copying someone else? Yes, when…
… When it's patented. Apple seems to be milking the current (outdated!) legal system of handling patents. Generally speaking, a patent protects an invention/innovation – a method of accomplishing a task, or a machine that does a certain job. As the methods and devices in question get more micro, and as they tend to be packed together into a single device, the handling of patents becomes that much more fuzzy.
This is especially true when it comes to design. Some patents are filed for some ideas and devices; some new ideas are never patented, and therefore free to copy.
As we see it, the key to Apple versus Samsung is that Apple was smart enough to patent features that became hugely attractive – which is what allows them to file infringement complaints now.
So Apple has every right to sue… because they were smart? Yes. That's the sad part.
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