Most commentators frame the Samsung/Apple trial as being about copying - did Samsung copy Apple in designing phones and tablets. But to me, the trial and much of the commentary miss the point - which is, so what if Samsung copied Apple?
Is there a single industry where competitors don’t copy each other? Don’t auto companies copy each other all the time? Don’t all electronics, TVs, refrigerators, whatever, look similar, and follow design trends as their competitors introduce innovations? That is just part of the deal if you are going to compete.
Apple has chosen a particular style of competivness - they innovate a lot, come up with new ideas. It has brought them great success. But there are other paths to success. Samsung innovates in some areas, and follows trends in others. They have had a lot of success, too. And it isn’t like Apple has never copied anyone.
Apple relies on innovation, so I understand that they don’t like it when someone copies them. But really, tough shit. Just because innovation is important to them shouldn’t mean they get to sue competitors that come up with similar products. Copying is good for consumers - we get more choices and lower prices for similar products. It might not be the best for Apple, but they don’t seem to be hurting all that much.
Cult of Android reports Apple is probably losing a patent suit against Motorola.
I like most Apple products, and appreciate their innovation. But tech patents are a plague on the industry. Apple is at the top of their game, but their patent litigation isn’t really helping them at all.
Apple continues to try to use the legal system to stop their competitors, this time in Japan. Leaving aside the many issues surrounding patents (software developers hate them, lawyers love them), is this really a wise thing to do in the long run?
Certainly with tablets, Samsung, and all other competitors for that matter, have had almost zero impact on iPad sales. So I don’t see what Apple really has to gain. But they do have something to lose - goodwill. Apple is ‘cool’ now, and has been for many years. Why put that at risk by acting like a bully?
WIth phones, Samsung and others have had plenty of impact. But is suing competitors really the best way to compete? Are all phones that are a black rectangle with icons really “copies”? Again, I don’t see why Apple wants to create ill will by being the industry bully, especially in an industry where they are already so successful.
Most of the Apple fan blogs, even the more thoughtful ones like John Gruber, are on a rampage of Google bashing this week. I wonder if many are even attempting to take the “fan” part out of the equation. What if it was Microsoft and Google joining together to make sure Apple couldn’t buy the Nortel patents? Would you view it the same way? What if Google was suing Apple for copying the user interface for notifications in IOS, or MS was suing Apple because they had patented resizing a window using any edge, which has finally appeared in Lion?
The issues with patents are bigger than the players.
Much has been written about the apparent fact that Google was offered the opportunity to join in with Microsoft and others to purchase patents from Novell (or was it Nortel?), which supposedly shows that there is no plot to keep any patents away from Google.
But think about this for a moment. Google has way fewer patents than Apple or Microsoft. To protect yourself from being sued, you need as many patents as you can get, in lots of different areas, so you can bargain with whoever is suing you. That is why even Apple, who already has plenty of patents, is buying even more. So what good would it do for Google to join up with MS? Google needs patents that others don’t have, not patents it shares with others. So of course they didn’t join up with MS.
On the other hand, MS gains either way. If they partner up with Google, it keeps Google from using those patents for its own defense. If they win the patents, it gives them more ammo against Google. They only lose if Google gets the patents. So they are happy to partner up with other industry giants to keep the patents out of Googles hands, or to partner up with Google. Either way they win.
By the way, real classy move by Frank Shaw of Microsoft, making public a private email from a Google lawyer.