It’s A Good Thing Apple Doesn’t Make TV’s…Otherwise Nobody Else Could..
Apple, the undisputed king of litigation won a courtroom battle against Samsung last week that has the potential to set the smartphone market back and stifle innovation. While discussing this with some colleagues, we wondered aloud why we didn’t see anything like this in other industries. Apple feels they own the trade dress of the iPhone, which is essentially just the look of the phone. Apparently Apple feels they own the rectangle device with edge to edge glass and rounded corners design. How can such a general design be owned? It makes no sense. Can you imagine what would happen if a television manufacturer suddenly decided they owned rectangle-shaped flat screen televisions with a bezel around the screen? Fortunately for us, Apple doesn’t make televisions, otherwise they’d probably be suing every television manufacturer out there for making rectangle televisions. They’d somehow manage to get patents for using a remote control to change the channel, or a patent for having HDMI ports, and then sue everyone else for having the same HDMI ports or for having a remote control. That’s essentially what Apple did with the iPhone. They entered the smartphone industry and patented many things that shouldn’t even be able to be patented. For example, how in the heck was Apple able to patent a grid of icons? Other devices had a grid of icons long before the iPhone ever existed, yet somehow they have a patent for it. Apple patented slide to unlock, yet there were devices that preceded it that featured slide to unlock. There are several examples of this sort of thing in Apple’s patent portfolio, where they have patented preexisting ideas and technology. I leave you with this thought, can you imagine if Apple made cars? They’d sue every vehicle manufacturer for having 4 wheels and a steering wheel…they’d claim that is their trade dress. They’d patent headlights and windshield wipers, then sue all the vehicle manufacturers for having them. The patent system is clearly broken, and Apple is taking full advantage. The funniest part of it all is, Apple is busy in court suing everyone for stealing ideas, yet Apple clearly steals ideas from others (see notification center, iMessages, turn by turn nav, quick messages, etc).