One of the topics that I have dealt with most this year, which is coming to an end, is that of patents. As an Apple blog, this is an issue that, although sometimes we would have liked to avoid, has not always been possible. In reference to it, the New York Times has published a report where they tell us how this mechanism works, the participants and how we have reached this situation
If there has been a predominant note in the last year it has been the patents. But not only those related to Apple, but also the same ones that affect the search giant, Google. Last year both companies invested more money in the acquisition of patents than in research and development of new products . And this is not a statement that is the result of a study of dubious origin. In an extensive report that appeared in the New York Times, data is given and the subject is openly discussed.
Two facts as an example of the policy that later in Apple have carried out . One case concerns Vlingo, which is the company behind the S-Voice engine of Samsung, a direct competitor of Siri. This company almost went bankrupt to defend itself against Nuance, a rival company that later bought Apple. In the tremendous struggle with Nuance, it almost ended up ruined, so it had no choice but to sell itself in the end to Nuance to save debts. Another example is Apple’s move with Creative , another creator of very good MP3 players. Both companies were involved in patent disputes during the development of the iPod. In 2006, Apple was forced to pay Creative a sum of 100 million dollars for the use of a patent of the latter in Apple’s iPod, although Cupertino’s could recover part of this money if Creative licensed the product to more companies. Steve Jobs then said:
From that moment on, at Apple had an idea. Patent everything they could and so the number of applications for patent registration has multiplied pro 10 in recent times.
These are the words of a former Apple executive, who pointed out how the development of some apparently simple functions had taken years of development and a lot of money in research, using for example slide to unlock . Something, according to this former executive, that seems very simple, but that until now nobody had done, so they are forced to protect their creation .
In March 2010, Apple sued HTC, a company closely related to Google and its Android operating system. Without much interest in negotiating any kind of agreement, Apple started the process of lawsuit. And if there is something that cannot be hidden, it is that Apple has seen Google as the enemy, the real target, something that is corroborated by some opinions coming from Cupertino, as is the case of Nancy R. Heinen, general counsel at Apple until 2006.
In the US newspaper’s report, they not only quote statements by company executives, in this case from Apple. An important part is the USPTO, which is in charge of approving or rejecting all patent applications filed . Robert Budens, one of the managers of these applications states:
Among all the statements that appear in the report, some seem to shed a drop of light , as in the case of James Besen, a Harvard law expert.
We have already talked about the problem that can arise from focusing many patents on a single company . The patent registration system in the United States was right in its origin, as it was intended to protect small creators. However, with the emergence of large companies, they register a large number of patents, either developed by themselves or purchased from other companies . Therefore, it can become difficult to develop a product that does not affect this or that patent, thus greatly limiting the capacity for innovation, development and growth.
In the case of Apple it could be that, as well as it seems that they are trying, that there is a stagnation in the development of mobile telephony as we know it and to show the innumerable fronts that it has open that as an ultimate objective they only intend to stop the sales of rival companies. These are not my words, but those of Tim O’Reilly, editor of computer guides and a critic of software patents:
From Cupertino they give their point of view in the report appeared in New York times :
There are also words in clear allusion to the Korean Samsung:
As we can see, and as ugly as it may seem, the subject of patents is something that will still give a lot of talk . In this article I have focused on Apple, although the original New York Times offers a very interesting reading by expanding the data a lot. If you like the topic I recommend you to read it, since it has no waste.