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Apple’s patent win is like buying polos shirts–or all shirts–only from Ralph Lauren

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The $1 billion damage Apple just won in its patent lawsuit against Samsung will be debated, and appealed an litigated, for years to come. In a nutshell, Apple convinced a federal jury that its patents on rounded corners and swiping to unlock a touchscreen phone are valid. Leaving aside issues such as competency (many jurors do not use smartphones; one of them do not use a cell phone at all; and the most common brand among their phones is LG), this verdict is ridiculous, a poster-boy for the absolute breakdown of the patent system, which is now exploited by technology companies to prevent competition by stifling innovation.

With a touchscreen phone, how can you unlock it without a swipe? With a phone, how can you avoid being rectangular? To make it pretty, how can you avoid rounded corners? Furthermore, these elements can be found in prior art–commercial products or designs made by other companies before Apple popularized them. But both sides had only 25 hours to conduct the entire trial. Perhaps due to the limited time, evidence could not be shown. Witnesses could not be questioned.

This whole trial and verdict show the U.S. patent system to be broken, whose remaining purpose is to enrich lawyers and the people who hire successful ones. Why are clothing companies not allowed to patent their designs, yet Apple allowed to sue competitors for huge damages for things they did not even invent? What would happen to the apparel industry and its consumers if each designer could lock in their designs until they are no longer fashionable or necessary?

This is about profits, not right and wrong.

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Written by Gnostradamus

Fri, 8/24/12 at 2024