Of course (once the lawyers all get paid) the end result of this battle is likely to be the usual cross-licensing. Reality is, even if one side (Apple in this case) starts out looking for damages, these wars often get resolved not by a judge or jury, but by the lawyers for the two companies doint tit for tat to grant each other more or less what they are already doing. Often the original goal of such lawsuits is nothing more than to force the other side to share its patents. Lawyers get rich, both sides get what they want. They still compete. The small guy who doesn't have the portfolio or army of lawyers generally lets left out in the dark and cold.
Quite frankly, that is the biggest reason companies collect portfolios of patents. It's a grown up version of kids trading baseball cards!
I agree with David Bley that lawyers are parasites that don't create any value. They are SOMETIMES necessary though to protect space where value can be created. That's a very complex issue.
As far as Rick's aha! argument is concerned we do have to look at the concrete. Apple has been an innovator and should not be blatantly copied to the extent that they cannot fund further innovation.
The issue as I see it in this case is that Apple is stifling progress.
But we can't solve the big issue that technology has outstripped the economic, political and legal structures of current society. There needs to be fundamental change.
Three years seems to be way too short a period compared to the current 20 years protection. Companies/Individuals may not be willing to devote as much resources to creation and innovation if they will only be able to recoup and benefit from their patents for such a short time. Your argument for 3 years does not make sense: If the lifespan of most new innovations is about 3 years as you say, then why would others still want to copy it? It must still be of significant value if after 3 years others still want to use it.
Les is correct in that, like most bodies of law, the patent system is flawed. In fact, I have yet to come across any area of law that is perfect. On the other hand, the patent system is invaluable for small companies and startups. It helps them procure funding, create revenue streams, and protect their newly-hatched technology from being reverse-engineered. Obtaining patent protection is often a make-it or break-it event for startups.
Also, even if large, established companies (like Apple and Samsung) don't need patents to procure funding, a strong patent portfolio can help those companies fend off litigation or reach a settlement more quickly.
Yet, it seems to me Apple had a unique and big Aha! moment in seeing how the smartphone should include an open Web browser with an interface that is simple to use based on a multitouch screen--the Web in your pocket.
I don't think anybody really got that before them.
Don't they deserve some patent protection on such a big Aha!
Isn't that what the patent system is all about?
Lawyers are parasites. They create nothing of value and consume the time and money of those who are creating value, not to mention stifling innovation. I find any company larger than the individual inventor (who can't afford a lawyer anyway), that uses the legal system to compete or eliminate a competetor, nothing less than reprehensible. Haven't we figured out that all innovation has a foundation of the work that preceded ours. I very much dislike the fact that this useless stuff is found newsworthy in a technical arena.
Technology patents need to be limited to 3 years since that is the lifespan of most new innovations.
If the patent is not in application within a reasonable period (18mos?) then it should be released preventing obstructive use of patents.