Bonum Certa Men Certa

Apple Has Woken Up Opposition to Software Patents, Itself

Anti-Android camp cheers while the public boos



Summary: The decision in the high-profile case against Android leads to immense opposition not just to Apple but patents as well

THIS weekend brought out some initial feedback on the Apple vs. Samsung case. Friends of mine told me about it and at least one convinced his company not to buy anything from Apple (as the company had planned to), going of course for Android, instead. Apple is going to get a massive backlash for this. People at the Health Club this morning (it's Bank Holiday) are talking about it; they really start to 'get' the problem with patents. It enables people like myself to show them how customers are affected (cost) and how dumb patents really are; some can be realised by a toddler, e.g. zooming strokes, device shape, and so on.



Apple may also end up buying patents from Kodak, as reports suggest that Apple wants those patents in its portfolio; being a patent bully, Apple deserves none of that. It has become more or less clear that Apple is just a branding (Samsung makes parts of its gadgets) and litigation company that collects silly patents while inventing just about nothing. The patent booster Dennis Crouch covered the ruling which lawyers generally like (a close friend tells me that many lawyers convert to patent law these days, it is a gold rush). Other large sites that covered the news concentrate on the number, which exceeds a billion dollars.

Apple boosters echo Apple's talking points, whereas others give fairly fair coverage without obvious bias (except pro-patents bias, as expected, as opposed to pro-Apple).

Blogs got to the news early because most journalists don't work over the weekend. The coverage has been decent in the sense that Apple got flak. The EFF chastised Apple and experts say it's not over. Yes, more sites suggest that is is not over because Samsung won't let go while it's doing so well in the market.

Samsung has said: "It is unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners" (how true).

Here is another notable bit: "Jurors who zipped through more than 600 questions in three days to arrive at their verdict in the intellectual-property battle between Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) had as their leader an engineer with a patent to his name."

This is an inadequate way to deliver a decision and several people already emphasise this. Groklaw's Pamela Jones says there is something wrong with this picture and Swapnil Bhartiya calls it "rushed job" and implies that it was not "a fair trial" . To quote; "The verdict in the Apple vs Samsung case came faster than expected. The jury seemed to be in a hurry (after having worked over time) and reached a verdict giving Apple a victory on a platter. Perhaps the jury did not want to spoil their weekend and handed their verdict which many have noted has several inconsistencies."

The jury was expected to dismiss the case, so the decision surprised us somewhat. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is not worried. He writes: "The jury in Apple vs. Samsung, doubtlessly eager to be out by the weekend, rushed their way through the approximately 26 pages and 55 questions of their instructions and decided that Samsung did indeed violate some of Apple's patents just over a billion bucks.

"Impressive? Not really.

"This is not the end. This verdict doesn't even matter in the long run. This was just another clash."

The jury is also biased because Apple is a US-based company and a glorified brand, whereas Samsung is "foreign".

Pamela Jones says that $1,049,343,540 is too much and it's lawyers who make money and brag about it the most. For them, it's an idealogical victory, jutifying the leeching of society through software patents. Another one who is celebrating the outcome is an Apple-funded lobbyist whom we filed a complaint against. He turned blogging into a corrupt business model. But am I suggesting that this is AstroTurf? Of course not, why would the one-man business Müller Consulting do something that is against EU law and also a violation of US law that the FTC is cracking down on? Note the sarcasm.

When AstroTurfing disguised as "blogging" becomes mainstream the government does in fact crack down on it. Google did not pay anyone to do something similar. The services offered by Müller include mass-mailing journalists with talking points of said corporations, blogging with talking points and material handed in by the client using a blog run by Google, threatening opposition, etc.

The benefits of the programme Müller offers are that clients get to spam journalists and bloggers without getting flak; journalists quote the lies, attribute it to "independent source"; this is done by mailing rather than commenting (by finding otherwise-hidden E-mail addresses) to hide and 'proxify' the lobbying. We showed proof.

Anyway, leaving the AstroTurf aside, patents are granted spuriously and this whole case helped us all see that. In South Korea, both companies are said to have been infringing each others' patents (the patent are too broad) and "Samsung, the biggest manufacturer of hand-held phones in the globe, did not duplicate Apple’s design, according to the Seoul Central Court in a new ruling."

There is a lot of coverage about it, saying that "Apple vs. Samsung: S. Korea court rules iPhone not copied" (national biases are easy to see in Rupert Murdoch's papers).

The coverage was more moderately decent and balanced in the UK, as neither company is British. Here is what Reuters wrote and here is an article that my cousin in Florida sent me: "After Samsung’s stunning $1 billion defeat in court at the hands of Apple , calling it a winner might seem awfully far-fetched. But that’s the argument some are making about the South Korean conglomerate." (source).

The sure thing is, customers don't win here. Apple claims to 'own' basic concepts and now it wants to tax people all around the world for enjoying rectangles with round corners. What would Moses have said?

A long time ago we called for an Apple boycott and some of my friends say I should do so again. My reply is, the people are already revolting and the boycott is far broader than us. Over the coming week, many journalists will slam Apple and patents. As Mr. Pogson put it, "Backlash Has Begun Against Apple…"

Engadget gives more interesting details and Dan Gillmor says that "A US jury has rubberstamped Apple's exploitation of the patent system" (quoted from the summary).

That's what it it: exploitation. We need not only to fight Apple by the USPTO as well, for being an enabler that Microsoft et al. share.

Comments

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