August 27, 2012 in Commentary
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. 聽While discussing this with some colleagues, we wondered aloud why we didn’t see anything like this in other industries. 聽Apple feels they own the trade dress of the iPhone, which is essentially just the look of the phone. 聽Apparently Apple feels they own the rectangle device with edge to edge glass and rounded corners design. 聽How can such a general design be owned? 聽It makes no sense. 聽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? 聽Fortunately for us, Apple doesn’t make televisions, otherwise they’d probably be suing every television manufacturer out there for making rectangle televisions. 聽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. 聽That’s essentially what Apple did with the iPhone. 聽They entered the smartphone industry and patented many things that shouldn’t even be able to be patented. 聽For example, how in the heck was Apple able to patent a grid of icons? 聽Other devices had a grid of icons long before the iPhone ever existed, yet somehow they have a patent for it. 聽Apple patented slide to unlock, yet there were devices that preceded it that featured slide to unlock. 聽There are several examples of this sort of thing in Apple’s patent portfolio, where they have patented preexisting ideas and technology. 聽I leave you with this thought, can you imagine if Apple made cars? 聽They’d sue every vehicle manufacturer for having 4 wheels and a steering wheel…they’d claim that is their trade dress. 聽They’d patent headlights and windshield wipers, then sue all the vehicle manufacturers for having them. 聽The patent system is clearly broken, and Apple is taking full advantage. 聽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).