Thereís enough greatness and pettiness to go around in the cramped courtroom of Judge Lucy Koh of San Jose Federal Court where Apple and Samsung are suing each other for patent infringement.
Apple deserves some kind of acknowledgement for creating something unique with the iPhone, a distinctive looking handset that put Web access in your pocket along with a phone and music wrapped in easy to use software. In its own way, the equally distinctive iPad also was different from tablets that went before in its clear focus on consumer Web browsing with really easy-to-use software.
But how do you express that in the arcane language of a patent? The patent system is encrusted with obtuse procedures and stiff, vague language. It needs a course with Strunk and White, the masters of crisp writing and thinking. As many have noted, patents have become a quantity game, not a quality metric.
Apple did a reasonable job trying to write patents on all the neat little ideas it put into its casings and coded into software. But they should not have been written as a few dozen patents, rather they should have been written as a few dozen claims in one iPhone patent.
Imagine an iPhone patent with claims on the shape of the device, the metal bezel, the big screen, the colorful, well-lit icons on a black background that bounce back and snap to the screen. Imagine them written in plain English rather than fusty patent-ese.
There would be no problem for a jury of average San Jose Joes and Janes determining whether or not such a patent was violated.
Excuse me, now, while I proceed to take Apple off its holier-than-thou pedestal. I am as touched by anyone by the emotional language of Steve Jobs that still lives on at Apple and has been invoked often in Judge Kohís courtroom, but letís tell the other side of that story.
The lofty language of Steve Jobs also acts as a drug to dupe talented Apple employees into overworking and living unbalanced lives. It has been used to brainwash Apple employees into believing they are somehow better than other people that put their pants on one leg at a time.
Get real, Apple! You donít own the rectangle with rounded corners. You didnít invent the smartphone, capacitive touch screen displays or browsers on handsets.
You arenít the only creators of beauty on Planet Earth. Compared to Samsung you donít do much work on forwarding the fundamental technologies that give us the LCDs, batteries, communications networks and microprocessors we need to make cool gadgets of all kinds.
That said, you used all those components damn well. So give yourself a pat on the back, and take that chip off your shoulder while you are doing it.
And while youíre getting humble, letís hear a little more candor about how the electronics industry uses low-cost labor. It didnít start with you by any means, but maybe you can use your clout and fat bankroll to bring some meaningful reforms to labor practices. After all, your complex designs that require lots of hand assembly have certainly pushed the edge of this dark side of the Industrial Revolution 2.0.
The concept of a tablet and most of its features is not new, it is not an innovation, etc etc.. Do we suffer from amnesia? Anyone remember PDAs? The concept was there, what we lacked was all kinds of technology improvements to make it really useful, sufficiently powerful and cool. Apple has all the right to copyright/patent a particular shape/color etc as Industrial Design did and does, but to patent "a rounded rectangle"?! Give me a break!
They already did (numerous times). They just don't sell it abroad, but so what, they have their internal market big enough ... So far we have very limited success in dealing with that angle of the problem. The solution for it will NOT come from us.
When a company has to turn to its patent attorneyís to protect its competitive advantage utilizing bogus claims in ridiculous patents itís time to look to another leader. Apple has to realize itís time to market and its marketing that made the product. Finally a big boy got up and said enough already.
The patent system is indeed broken. Big coorporations build up or buy (Google) large volumes of IP, which is used as ammunition in suits and countersuits against their competition, and to shut down disruptive innovation by small companies. The end customer is the biggest loser, and the biggest winners are the lawyers and executives of the corporatocracy.
patents are supposed to encourage, not stifle competition. we (people acting through government) created all forms of IP as a purely artificial mechanism to encourage progress. Apple is one of the finest examples of how to *abuse* IP - how to use patents to maximize profits by minimizing competition.
we need to reduce the domain of valid IP protection, and greatly narrow the definition of infringement. Apple has made a mockery of the IP system as it stands today. especially in light of the realities of industrial supply-chain management: no one could possibly clone an Apple product because Apple does a very good job of squeezing out efficiencies of scale, of locking up industrial capacity. remember that none of the parts in Apple products are somehow uniquely Apple - even the CPU is just a SoC built from commodity blocks.
Changing process technologies isn't as simple as checking the "32nm" box instead of the 45nm" box. There would be a non-trivial amount of design and testing for Apple to move their A5X to the 32nm process.
But even if we assume it was an option from the start, then the other problem is the delay. To advance a deadline for such a large project as deploying a new process technology by 2.5 months would be challenging if not impossible. Time is easily converted to money, but the converse is not always true.
So with that in mind, rather than be gated by Samsung's deployment of 32nm, they went with the tried-and-true 45nm process from the start. Can't say it turned out poorly for them.
I think we can all agree that its wrong for someone to blatantly steal and profit from the innovations of others. From a fundamental fairness perspective, that's just not right. But at the same time, in every business in the world, competitors size up the leader and try to take them down, often times trying to take a page from the leaders book and learn from its success. This business of a patent on the rectangle is ridiculous. I appreciate your commentary, Rick. And I wish I knew what the solution should be.
people honestly really buy samsung phone thinking that it's apple phone.. really? people really so stupid? I saw all samsung phones have samsung logo on front face... for reasonable min iq person, there is zero chance it gets confused.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for todayís commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.