At stake in the San Jose case are five Apple patents and a set of registered and unregistered trademarks on very specific elements of Apple's industrial design and software user interface. None of these speak directly to creating a damn fine Web browser in your pocket or a sleek slate on your lap that’s the equivalent of a full-blown PC.
Not surprisingly given the millions of patents issued to date, Samsung has been able to find good examples of what it claims are prior art for each of the five Apple patents. Indeed elements such as a black, rectangular shape with rounded corners, a flat face with a large display and a centered lozenge-shaped speaker are not rocket science. Others thought of them before the iPhone emerged, and Apple was looking at those same prior practitioners in its quest for new ideas.
For its part, Apple has been able to field impressive experts who argued reasonably the Samsung examples were not prior art. Similarly, Samsung has been able to field five patents of its own that are very respectable—including two that appear pretty significant to the 3G networks all modern cellphones use.
Just as Samsung has done, Apple has been able to find examples of what it suggests are reasonable prior art from the pool of millions of existing patents. And Samsung has been able to field experts who make reasonable arguments those examples are flawed in some significant ways.
One gets the impression that if Judge Lucy Koh would not have put a 25 hour time clock on each side’s time with the jury, they would have found prior art invalidating the prior art of the other side. And they would have found credible experts to argue the details of the prior art of the prior art. Madness this way lies.
There’s a lot of grey area to go around here, more than enough for nine average Joes and Janes from San Jose to sort out. At the end of the day their decision may say less about whether Samsung copied Apple or vice versa.
The verdict—whatever it is—may be a measure of how well or poorly the patent system serves the needs of the average engineer and his or her marketing colleague in expressing and protecting genuine innovations.
The verdict also could be colored by emotional issues, such as how the lawyers did or didn’t make an emotional trust connection with the jury, how they raised or failed to raise feelings of distrust for the other side. But that’s another story.
How do you define "put into use", though? Plus, a lot of industries have pretty long horizons from research to selling a product. For example, I know that companies have been spending real money on FinFETs for a good 7 years, and only just recently have you been able to buy a product with them in it. So all of that work should be in the public domain?
This question always came to my mind. Patents can be filed in wide domains and technologies. Does patent granting organizations have the manpower and expertise to do justice to the examination. I guess in the coming era patent related jobs are going to create a revolution.
In my case, a Tapwave Zodiac 2. The Zodiac was a Palm OS device intended to be a combo PDA and handheld games machine. So it had things like as ATI video chip with 2D accelerations and 8MB video RAM driving a 320x480 screen, Yamaha stereo with stereo speakers on device, 200MB of RAM, and two SD card slots, one of which was SDIO. You could plug a wifi SD card into it and go online, and several browsers existed for the device.
Tapwave went belly up in 2005, but I have three Zodiacs and still use one regularly, mostly as an ebook viewer.
@ost: Since most of the working hours I put toward the patent application I was pressed to process for my design was spent in the application process and the design was catharsis then the patent office would get working hours designing would be zero and the sleeping hours would be .01. I do not think adding documentation of the process of designing will benefit anyone but bean counters.
The problem within the present patent process is not proof of work done. It is proof of uniqueness and verification that it is constructive in nature and not being used to prevent progress my a competing entity. If the patent is not put into use within a reasonable time frame (I am a fan of 18 months as stated in a post to a related article) then it is deemed obstructive and opened for use by anyone.
Obstructive patents or squirreling patents away so that they prevent progress is the worst use of patents. The duration of exclusivity (or license) is amongst the next few poorly chosen features of the patent process.
It's a tribute to human ingenuity to say that we were able to produce more new ideas and products despite the patenting process preventing use of ancient (10 years is ancient in many arenas) methods.
Being listed as inventor or co-inventor on 30-some patents - ALL of them obvious (really, one award was for an LED that was essentially an "idiot light" for a high pressure pump)I concur with many of the previous comments about obvious "inventions". But my clients always want at least a patent application as proof-positive of "due diligence" in case of a claim of infringement. This fear is not unfounded - google Jerry Lemmelson...few corporations have not been sued at least once over one of Jerry's often specious patents. And who can forget the infamous Wang 30 pin memory patent that claimed invention by sticking 8 or 9 DRAMs on a pcb using a 30 pin connector. So when in Rome....
An possible improvement to the patent system would probably require the applicant to include a list of documented working hours spent to invent the invention. And the validity period should match that.
I think it is a matter of scale, rather than scope. As you have stated, there is nothing wrong with the concept of a patent system. However, the sheer number of filings creates a denial-of-service scenario, particularly for individual and SMB filers. Like any DoS attack, it can be mediated by throttling the rate of filing, and that throttling could be accomplished by putting a cap on the number of applications a single filer can make per year. This would force large companies to choose their patent applications well and prevent them from flooding the patent office with dubious "inventions". At the same time, it would again put individual and SMB filers on a more even playing field.
Rick, the test of the patent system is not whether it serves today's engineers but whether it serves society's interests long term. These can be different things, but the balance has to be struck with the long term in mind.
Battar - You are flying in teh face of reality. The whole industry is producing products that simultaneously contain hundreds of innovations patented by multiple parties. The patent system gives them tools to cooperate, and it gives them tools to fight if that's what they prefer to do. They cooperate 99% of the time and everybody benefits.
giuann, patent laws were about random granted monopolies _before_ 1574 Venice(before 1623 in the UK). The laws we have today were made to sweep that away and to grant limited monopolies only to meritorious innovations. That's all the system is striving to do, even when it is not perfect in everyone's eyes.
I say, don't tinker with the principles of the system (certainly not until you get your head aroud the reality not the mythS!), just focus on quality and learning how to use the system yourself. Patenting the use of an acceleromter as a tilt sensor is not patenting the laws of physics. Anyway, the system is not designed to prevent people filing rubbish applications. The question is what claism will they get granted.