According to the New York Times, for the first time ever, both Apple and Google spent more money on patents than researching new products and innovation in 2011. The actual article is an in-depth report on current and past patent lawsuits, and how the patent war may be hurting the consumer.
The rapid change and improvements that occur in technology, especially in regards to smartphones, forces major players like Apple and Google to draw swords in the patent war. Every day Apple, Google, and Motorola file new lawsuits, and seek patents in regards to protecting their intellectual properties. It is a shame that these companies have to waste so much time involved in legal muck when that time could be spent researching the next big innovation.
In 2006, Apple had to give a large sum of money to Creative over the original iPod design. This was essentially the start of the patent war for Apple. Steve Jobs said “Creative is very fortunate to have been granted this early patent.” Jobs made it very clear that nothing of the sort would occur with the iPhone. According to a former executive, Jobs said “we’re going to patent it all.” Apple’s engineers were asked to participate in monthly “invention disclosure sessions.”
Apple’s official response in August to the verdict in the Samsung patent suit:
“Apple has always stood for innovation, To protect our inventions, we have patented many of the new technologies in these groundbreaking and category-defining products. In the rare cases when we take legal action over a patent dispute, it’s only as a last resort.”
“We think companies should dream up their own products rather than willfully copying ours, and in August a jury in California reached the same conclusion”
In the last decade, the number of patent applications submitted by Apple has grown at an insane rate. The fact is, Apple spends millions of dollars perfecting their product design and pioneering new technologies. Who could blame them for protecting their hard work? Even something as small as the “slide to unlock” feature on the iPhone took countless man hours and dollars to perfect, and companies don’t want their signature features to be ripped off.
Do you think there should be a new patent department formed to handle the tech industry? It seems there could be a better organized patent process put in place for an industry that sees such rapid change and innovation so frequently.