Patent Wars

Every time I read or hear something about the ongoing battle between Apple and the various manufacturers of Android  devices, I get the desire to scream.

Will you please stop!

For obvious reasons, I can’t comment on who is right or wrong with regard to this ridiculous battle, I do however feel that the only beneficiaries of the whole thing are patent lawyers. In an off the record conversation with an employee of WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) earlier this year the nature of this battle was confirmed to me.

The key to winning a patent suit is who has the tallest stack of patents!

Whilst this may not be the literal truth, it certainly seems to be the case to me as a helpless observer.

Some highlights of this misguided battle which have recently amused me:

  • A British judge ruled that the Galaxy Tab did not infringe iPad patents because it was not as cool.
  • Apple won a ruling on it’s rubber-banding patent which describes lists which bounce when you scroll to the end.

The first of these requires that a British judge actually have some concept of what “cool” means. As a citizen of that great country, our judges do not exactly have a reputation for understanding modern culture, let alone “cool”!

In the second, I read many articles about this being very significant for Samsung as it was a major feature of the user interface. I can report that the Jelly Bean update on my S3 does not have rubber-banding but uses a blue-glow to indicate the end of a scroll and I actually prefer it!

The greatest irony of the ruling on the rubber-banding patent is that it seems it may be being invalidated by the US patent office anyway!

I can only hope the rumours of some sort of compromise that were circulating at the end of the summer result in a peace agreement. Then these fantastic companies can get on with what they do best: creating fabulous technology.


Mike Way

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