We are probably pushing the boundaries of this Web site’s scope, but to demonstrate the ill effects of software patents on innovation, let’s quickly consider Apple. The news is that Apple has once again sought a patent on very trivial things which it had not invented.
The application also sets out the processes for shipping and using the adaptor, which can be summarised as “if the adaptor is expanded, collapse it and then pack the disc and adaptor” and “expand adaptor, fit disc into centre of adaptor, then use disc.”
That seems pretty obvious to me. Doesn’t prior art in a variety of industries (including flat-pack furniture and telescopes) have these concepts covered?
I have no fundamental problem with the idea of patents, but to my mind the degree of innovation behind this application is too trivial to deserve protection.
”The developers implement features which they later decide not to deliver due to fear of Apple.“Of relevance to us is the fact that Linux is sometimes a victim. Consider Compiz-Fusion (this one used to speak about a an Aladdin lamp-like effect) and AWN (implementing stacks from Leopard) get crippled due to Apple patents, regardless of prior art. The developers implement features which they later decide not to deliver due to fear of Apple. It is worth appending a list of patent stories which we’ve collected about Apple.
Examples from the past year where Apple is seemingly abused:
- Steve Jobs ‘nicked my battery design’
- iPhone’s keyboard prompts patent violation suit
- Apple’s interface held to the fire in dubious suit
Examples from the past year seemingly abuses:
- Is the U.S. patent system in crisis? Apple, Google patent czars disagree
- Microsoft infringing on one of Apple Patents?
- The Apple vs. Microsoft GUI Lawsuit
- Apple licenses UI tech as part of settlement (IP Innovation is mentioned here)
- Apple patents button-free mouse
- Apple’s Billion Dollar Patent Bluster
- New Patents Point to Apple Phone
The story about Google and Apple (patent disagreement) seems to indicate that Apple is still on the wrong (pro-abuse) side of this debate. █