03.03.10

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Apple Chastised Even by Its Own Advocates for Suing Linux Using Software Patents

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 5:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steve Ballmer

Steve Jobs
Original photo by Matthew Yohe, modified by Boycott Novell

Summary: Apple’s highly unnecessary lawsuit has the company suffer wrath and flak, including some from its own supporters

EARLIER today we wrote about Apple suing Linux phones using software patents. But Apple is using a bunch of very lousy patents (here is a detailed list of all the patents).

“My favorite is #7,657,849, filed less than a month ago, covering unlocking a device by performing a gesture,” said the president of the FFII, who linked to this short article from CIO Weblog, aptly titled “An embarrassment of patents”

Bad as the patent system may be, it might be the only recourse available for Apple to justify the invention of such a device. There’s no way, at least so far as I know, to patent the totality of a thing like that, and anyway such a patent must necessarily be excessively broad. But I find it hard to say that Apple should not be rewarded with some measure of exclusivity for creating this genre of smartphone. Twenty years, the standard term, seems to long in this day and age, but say five years, perhaps; certainly a killer product with a lock on the market can make its creation worthwhile in such a time span.

Matt Asay, usually a big fan of everything from Apple, does not defend Apple here. “I’m very consistent on this,” he told me, “I hate using the law as a biz club. Legal recourse is a sign of failure”

When a bunch of lawyers, whose occupation is interpretation of words and patent legalese (this one is funny and new!), take precedence at the expense of engineers, then clearly we have a defective patent system and commercial paradigm that relies on it.

The most upsetting thing perhaps is that Steve Jobs himself describes Apple as an innovative victim. The reactions to this (from several hours ago) can be seen below.


Boycott Novell logo

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: March 2nd, 2010

-BNtwitter/#boycottnovell-[zoobab] Steve Jobs: We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it: http://i5.be/ayz Mar 03 13:56
phIRCe-BNc Title: Apple Sues Phone Maker HTC Over Patents – Bits Blog – NYTimes.com .::. Size~: 74.22 KB Mar 03 13:56
DaemonFC what did Apple invent? Mar 03 13:58
Diablo-D3 nothing Mar 03 13:59
DaemonFC “Cellphone makers have been playing catchup to the iPhone since it was introduced in June 2007″ Mar 03 14:00
DaemonFC knee slapper Mar 03 14:00
DaemonFC I’d rather not pay $500 for a phone with less features than the one I have :) Mar 03 14:00
Diablo-D3 yarly Mar 03 14:01
-BNtwitter/#boycottnovell-[zoobab] Most of the patents that Apple is using against HTC are software patents: http://i5.be/ayA Mar 03 14:02
phIRCe-BNc Title: Apple HTC Suit Gallery -  - Gizmodo .::. Size~: 75.34 KB Mar 03 14:02
oiaohm Was anyone majorally using a linked app store before iphone Mar 03 14:02
Diablo-D3 no, and no one is now! dooooohohohohohoho! Mar 03 14:03
DaemonFC who cares? Mar 03 14:03
DaemonFC I need an app that farts when I push the button Mar 03 14:03
DaemonFC (they have that in the app store) Mar 03 14:03
MinceR it’s an interesting kind of “catchup” Mar 03 14:04
DaemonFC I need an app that turns my phone into a compass (because the ones at the dollar store have an annoying tendency to work all the time) Mar 03 14:04
MinceR such as releasing a pda/phone that does more than the hypePhone and costs less, before the first hypePhone was announced Mar 03 14:04
MinceR i’d love to play “catchup” that way Mar 03 14:04
DaemonFC Apple has invented nothing, they’ve filed for patent troll style patents Mar 03 14:05
MinceR i wonder how many people use fart sounds as their ringtone Mar 03 14:05
DaemonFC MinceR, They need to make a ringtone that says “Follow the sound of my voice and stab the person holding the phone repeatedly” Mar 03 14:05
MinceR lol Mar 03 14:05
DaemonFC and make sure you can’t change that Mar 03 14:05
DaemonFC it would never go past the first ring :) Mar 03 14:06
Diablo-D3 just change it to its a small world Mar 03 14:06
Diablo-D3 wont get past the second stanza Mar 03 14:06
*oiaohm has quit (Remote host closed the connection) Mar 03 14:06
MinceR won’t “i’m a bitch of steve jobs” work as well? Mar 03 14:06
DaemonFC change it that “I like big butts” song Mar 03 14:07
MinceR the visuals say so already Mar 03 14:07
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A Single Comment

  1. Jose_X said,

    March 4, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Gravatar

    I posted the following comment at the cio-weblog site:

    *****
    Aborting Monopoly Grants is more than simply the Right Thing to do.

    Putting aside software, business method, and other generally ridiculous classes of patents, I think what we should be attempting, if we want to promote the progress of science and useful arts, is to look towards a reward and incentive mechanism that does not tie-up 100,000 inventors every time we want to reward one. We can do things like give tax credits, prizes, and, perhaps more practically, even some degree of market share guarantees or short-term price subsidies.

    Let us note that market share guarantees could allow others to develop a market much faster than that sole person could under a monopoly mechanism; thus, the sole person getting the automatic market share slice guarantee could definitely benefit this person extra this way (without having to deal with resource and time costly lawsuits whose mere threat even stagnate). Meanwhile, if that sole person did succeed tremendously (eg, through first mover gains), then there really would be no need to help them further. In either case, note that the motivation was there because of the significant safety net(s) and potential extra upside. Even better, we didn’t hold back the wall of progress and abridge rights. I mean do we really think that the only thing of value (remember, we are giving exclusivity to it for 20 years) in creating better products and markets is this so called single godlike “inventor” or even inventing? What about all the other people sweating and taking risks and many times not even coming out ahead or too far ahead?

    Also, a sliding scale could be used, eg, where we give larger guarantees (but not generally near 100%) for the first year or months and then work the guarantees down to zero throughout the next 5 to 10 year period.

    And if the government and private sector have developed extremely detailed categorizations of products and markets and income streams, surely we could leverage and extend that as necessary, right? Some agency could handle the day to day issues that might arise in fast moving or brand new market/product classes. The USPTO would be put to better use doing less damage this way and perhaps even contributing positively!!!

    It makes no sense to give a monopoly (of any significant duration) to the first person to file a general idea of how something works. Meanwhile, you have others that have already invested years in thinking about and perhaps actually creating refined versions of inventions that do/would fall under such a patented general broad description. It’s always easier/quicker to come up with the broad description.

    Plus, can the most brilliant inventor truly be the first to write down invention ideas/claims in all but a fraction of the cases (and still have time to develop and implement and sleep etc)? Of course not! Should we annul many brilliant future inventions because those people best fit for the job were distracted with something else other than writing up 1,000,000 million patent claims yearly (an impossibility) just to cover all ground where they might make significant contributions over the next 20 years? And let’s not forget that the top inventor is dwarfed by the combined contributions of the next 10 working together.

    In an Internet world, we should be rewarding exploitation of the powerful new ways that exist to collaborate. Monopolies run contradictory to this.

    Finally, who invents in a vacuum? There are a great many little and very significant insights that occur along the way to a final invention, and many of these little steps only happen in any given individual’s mind because of the constant influence from other members of society (ideas “ripped off” from others, casual conversation and feedback, as well as math and other understandings developed almost entirely by others) as well as from external forces and experiences that are also having an impact on others.

    I mean someone must be first, but how fair is a monopoly to those that came or would have come in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21th, 22th, 23th, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, 31th, 32th, 33th, 34th, 35th, 36th, 37th, 38th, 39th, 40th, 41th, 42th, 43th, 44th, 45th, 46th, 47th, 48th, 49th, 50th, 51th, 52th, 53th, or 54th?

    Do we really think these other people deserve to get nothing? Do we really think giving control of the market solely to number 1 will benefit society? I mean, gold gets virtually all of the glory in the Olympics, but does that person at the top this month really contribute all that much more to make up for everyone else’s contributions?

    Should we force all others into hibernation for 20 years because of a monopoly grant to the gold medal winner? “Sorry, move on to a new sport. Invent a new sport because this one has now been awarded exclusively to Hans Dawn for the next 20 years.”

    Maybe 70% of the market is awarded 30%,15%,15%,10% to the top four “inventors” or significant contributors the first year.. with eventually only 5% of the market being reserved (as a *guarantee*) for these folks by year 7?

    Monopolies stifle. We believe in a competitive system and obviously recognize that the supporting crews and competition losers make possible this month’s gold medal winning moment in the first place. We believe in freedoms and liberties. Let us not forget that guaranteed monopolies, a too powerful of a prize, will likely lead to dirty play and a total misallocation of resources by some in order to win this prize. Further, the winner will then have significant incentives to sit on his/her rear end or go at snail speed for the majority of the next 20 years. No dice, if you ask me.
    *****

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