Maybe Apple thinks they can afford to play bull in the china chop of developer opinion right now but I'm sure I'm not the only developer that felt a little sick to his stomach firing up Xcode today. I plan to put iOS and Apple in my rear view mirror.
I've just had enough of their controlling, paternalistic attitude. It was one thing when they were the scrappy underdog but the idea that I need the OK of the richest company in the world to install software on my (mobile) computer just suddenly seems equally laughable and creepy to me.
It astounds me the kind of stuff Apple gets away with this days that Microsoft could have never dreamed of doing in the 90's.
Can anyone imagine if Microsoft had required its approval of applications like Netscape before allowing Windows users to install them?
Can anyone imagine if Microsoft had sued BeOS or RedHat for infringement of patents as trivial as pinch-to-zoom?
And now they're doing exactly that with Windows 8 apps, and nobody cares because Apple made walled gardens cool.
I don't follow the line of reasoning there.
I have no problem with curated app stores or app DRM, by the way. I just think that there has to be a way to side load apps that don't meet the censor's approval for whatever reason.
Apple controls what goes into the store because they want to protect users from apps that steal information. iOS does not have the malware problem that android does as a result.
It is not apple's fault that this has not proven as popular in the makretplace as the appstore-- but they had this feature in from day one, a year before the appstore even shipped.
These apps have access to the iPhone UI patterns such as navigation controller, tab controller etc, and look and feel and work like native apps-- because they are native apps.
I'm tired of people who are ignorant of the technology and ideologically driven to spread lies calling the truth "bizarro world". You're the one who is telling the lie here, buddy. Your need to characterize me like that stems from it. Further, your ignorance of the existence of a solution is not proof that the solution doesn't exist, and when told about it, you should research it, not characterize me.
I write iOS apps for a living. I know how their distribution controls work, thanks. Without Apple's explicit permission for each and every device I can't distribute my app. To muddy the waters here is intellectually dishonest. You should be embarrassed for trying to argue that this is anything remotely like Android or any of the current desktop platforms.
How do I put executable code onto my iPhone and run it without their permission? Unless you can answer without the words "iTunes app store" or "jailbreak", you have proven yourself wrong.
However, I do want to make sure that I get at least one more update out there to take care of any issues that might arise from the iOS 6 transition so I'll probably wait until I'm sure there's nothing serious there.
1. Apple products are the best in quality, design, and utility for me.
2. Their platform is hugely profitable and I want in on the action.
For me, it's simple economics. But I also tend to be an oddball around here. I'm one of the few who sees the benefits of copyright and I also believe patents have a completely valid place in society. What I think really sets me apart in these views is that I'm not a hard liner about any of them and from what I've seen on HN for the past 3 years, most people here (at least the ones who comment on these issues) are. I know about the dark side of patents, their abuse, and I'm right on the same page as others when they come out against abuse of the patent system. I also see some of the insanity surrounding copyright too. But you have to consider all the information in order to make an informed decision. Because of this I'm not one of those who decides to boycott all things made by company X because of their actions or position (could be one or a history of them) on issue Y.
I don't understand why people such as yourself take to boycotting every time something like this happens. I truly don't, and I'm not trying to be snarky or dickish at all so please don't read it that way. What I see in this case is standard Apple behavior and coincidentally they just happen to be right on this. If this abandoning of Apple really is about the lawsuit then why didn't you jump ship from the start instead of waiting for the ruling? And if this really is about the patent system then why is everyone making it about Apple? Apple is using the tools at its disposal to protect itself and in other cases simply make sure they stay ridiculously profitable. Apple didn't invent the patent system. If anger belongs anywhere it should be directed toward the system not the user of the system.
For starters, the reality is that Apple's revenue streams are quite diversified and their product portfolio is very strong. From iMac, to iTunes to iPods/iPhones/iPads.
So the notion that Apple would launch into litigation "just for the money" seems misguided, at the least - if only for the fact that if they lost the suit, there could be significant ramifications for their sales (e.g. an injunction against selling any of the products in the suit for X period of time, etc.). With sales and revenues growing as much as they are, a wrongly filed lawsuit can be even more risky than rewarding.
For a company as wealthy (and innovative) as Apple, there are more considerations than just protecting market share and trying to extract patent rent from competitors as a revenue stream.
There are many other companies that come out with many features in their products that Apple doesn't sue. See Windows, Safari vs Chrome, iPod vs Zune, Adobe Premiere vs Final Cut Pro, most "ultrabooks" vs Macbook Air, etc.
The issue here is that Samsung, HTC, et al. essentially have done what many companies in China have done. They acted like a hardware manufacturing partner - then using the inside knowledge they gained of the intimate architecture of the products, they reverse engineered them and competed directly.
That's like you hiring a web developer to build your startup - and both of you build it to traction, and once you take all the risk and prove the market, (s)he leaves and builds a direct competitor using his insider knowledge.
It's the most insiduous kind of 'IP stealing' that you can get.
If you had that done to you, and your ex-developer (in fact, he is still managing your codebase) is making a ton of money off of your ideas and IP in your market, I am sure you would be pissed too.
The money is just sprinkling on top.
Also, I think it is hard to argue that Apple doesn't pour their hearts into what they do. That's why they are the most valuable company on the planet and will continue to be for years to come. It's because of the rate at which they innovate.
Not the rate at which they copy.
So cut them some slack, and walk a mile in their shoes.
Apple is a public company. If Apple decided to hold itself to a set of standards more stringent than its competitors, it would be hampering itself and acting against the interests of its shareholders. Complain about, and work to fix, the system. Don't expect Apple to fix it by ceding the rights it currently has to its competitors. Especially when, as a company, Apple genuinely seems to believe that the blatant copying of iOS in Android is unethical.
Also, you know Samsung has filed similar suits around the world, and in no way is opting out of the patent system, right? Buying a Samsung as a fuck-you to patent law is a joke. They aren't working to fix the problem. They're just losing.
I think you should give this a read: http://www.billbuxton.com/multitouchOverview.html and notice these words: "What I am pointing out, however, is that "new" technologies - like multi-touch - do not grow out of a vacuum."
This is little more than a new round of the CSR debate.
I find it hard to fault Apple for cashing in on the ridiculous legal system.
Hate the game, not the player, right?
Its unethical because the Android - iOS relationship can be narrowed down to one person...Eric Schmidt. He sat on the board of Apple, absorbed the process of Apple getting into the smart phone market, then emulated it at Google while he was CEO there. Although to be fair, Android innovates in some areas where iOS does not explore (running the JVM on smartphones).
"I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong," Jobs said. "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."
With that in mind, the email reads far more genuine than the blog post implies.
Samsung makes up a non-trivial share of the entire South Korean economy, one fifth of the country's exports and employing roughly one of every thirty people - if overnight they were barred from selling products internationally, at what point does the state intervene?
Surely Apple has a responsibility to defend its patents and innovations?
We ("rabid Apple fan[s]") need a strong and successful Android to ensure some balance in this next generation of computing. We need a successful Android to keep Apple on their toes.
Google has figured out how to innovate with Android. Ice-cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean feature a unique and notable user interface.
Samsung, on the other hand, designed 'TouchWhiz' to imitate parts of the iOS look-and-feel in order to mislead customers.
Think about that.
But, of course, Apple has the rights (and responsibility) to defend it's patents no matter how baseless / crazy they are.
Motorola recently sued Apple, and one of the patents covers siri's audible voice prompt, so Apple will have to innovate around that. Also, media playback resume among several devices is Google's innovation. Apple will have to innovate around that. And that's just the beginning. None of them are FRAND, which means higher penalties and bans.
I agree, companies have a responsibility to defend their innovations.
The oldest multitouch device I know is the MERL Diamond Touch table (2001) which clearly predates everything Apple did. I am unsure whether or not somebody had implemented Pinch&Zoom on it before 2005.
In 2007 I worked on a Multitouch Table project as a student (http://digitable.imag.fr/). We built our own FTIR table and implemented a basic interface. We used Pinch&Zoom; I implemented it myself and I can assure you I had never seen an iPhone before. It is so obvious that when you include it in an interface you do not have to explain it to the users, they will try it naturally. If anybody using a multitouch interface tries that within 10 minutes, how can it be patented?
I wonder when Microsoft started to use it internally, too. They already had a working prototype for Surface in 2007: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEiFhD-DIlA
Thus pinch-to-zoom as Jeff Han demonstrated it, using cameras to take pictures of your hands is not the same thing as apple doing it using software to turn noisy amorphous blobs into finger points on a capacitive touch screen.
Other people can implement pinch-to-zoom because pinch-to-zoom cannot be patented.
Both Apple and Jeff Han could have patents on their very different implementations of this same feature.
Unfortunately people really seem to believe that patents cover features, and I think this is due to the deliberate spin put on the discussions by anti-patent people.
If you disagree, try reading the pinch-to-zoom patent itself.
Thus pinch-to-zoom as Jeff demonstrated it, using cameras to take pictures of your hands is not the same thing as apple doing it using software to turn noisy amorphous blobs into finger points on a capacitive touch screen.
People love to say this kind of thing. "They had to defend their property!". No they didn't.
Throughout the 2000's we had an orthodoxy that all these seemingly obvious and bogus patents being filed by huge companies were OK because they were for "defensive" purposes. In other words, the very premise for why most of these patents were not vociferously protested against was the fact that the companies were not going to exercise them aggressively. Now that the stockpile has been accumulated we have people like you saying "Well, it's not their fault, since they have the patents they have to defend them!". Again - no, they don't.
The jury's decision is the best thing that could've happened to the industry in the long term.
I hope we don't really need to discuss the fact that Smsg's devices and Android at least started as clones.
If I was a startup founder who designed and developed the iPhone, and then saw the blatant rip-off by Samsung, I would go nuts with rage. And HN would likely rage with me. But hey, it's Apple, so no bullying, and anyone is allowed to copy whatever they do, right?
Also, I view this whole trial as "a way" for Apple to get at Samsung. Patents were a tool here, not the end goal. We all know the patent system is broken and obsolete, but since it exists, it is a tool that Apple could use. Note that no one seems to dispute that Samsung copied Apple designs, people just complain about the use of patents. I think that is a very one-sided view. Samsung blatantly copied (and continues to do so) Apple designs and they deserve to be punished — that Apple used patents is something I'd consider secondary.
I totally agree on your view on patents.
Is it good for the industry in the short term? I'd say No. Is it the best thing that could have happened to the tech industry in the long term? Yes, I think so.
Android and most devices started as a direct response to iOS. All the major players saw that iOS was disrupting the market and there was no time left to invent something on their own, so they simply built a clone.
From a business point of view the right decision, Microsoft invented a new UI and new devices with Nokia, but it seems they failed, since they were late to the market and to succeed they would have needed a really disruptive idea themselves.
Google had the team and skills to invent something that could disrupt iOS, but they decided to copy it instead and in the process wasted all the brain power of the team that probably has the best chance of finding the next paradigm. What a waste of talent to use all those great people for building a clone.
As a competitive entity, there's no reason for Apple not to leverage every technique at its disposal to ensure its competitive viability - and one of these techniques is using patent litigation to prevent competitors from carbon-copying its innovations.
Moral and ethical arguments should be made with regard to the integrity of the patent system itself, not a single corporation's lawful use of that system. Decrying Apple's behavior either speaks to hopeless naiveté regarding the nature of competition, or self-congratulatory moral posturing.
Companies have an obligation to their shareholders and their staff to protect themselves. A lot of big companies have come out against the current Patent Laws, but at the same time are fighting tooth and nail to protect themselves because that is the current legal environment that they are operating in right now.
PS. Jacques, the "freemium" and "consulting" links on your personal website are dead links
Imagine Gabe Newell's version of that email.
So when and how exactly are we supposed to complain? In a vacuum? When nothing bad is happening, just start writing letters about how awful the patent system is and hope somebody listens? Do you honestly think that would ever work? It's a ludicrous proposition.
If you want change, you have to illustrate why that change is needed. You do that by highlighting demonstrably problematic cases, and by showing that the parties involved are behaving in a fashion that is contrary to the public interest, yet legal, and thus changes to the laws are needed. That is how it works. If anybody thinks the patent system needs reform then this is exactly when they should put their effort into complaining, and they should absolutely be criticizing Apple for their actions. It is not just appropriate - it's the only way change will get achieved.
"These are not patents on innovation, they’re patents on simple ideas and features that you didn’t even think of first but you were the first to patent."
Then the magical aspect of patent law called "prior art" would come into play and it wouldn't be patentable. Yet it is - and yet despite all of Samsungs insistences and millions (no doubt) spent on prior art research - nothing has been shown prior to the date of filing that anything existed. It's no different than Amazon's One-click.
It would be interesting - if you invented something, you spent ten-of-thousands on patents, you spent huge amounts of capital in developing a product - you launch it to much positive press and then someone simply copies everything you have done. You're a small business - what do you do now ? According to your article you sit back and say "oh thats totally ok because thats innovation and I'm happy that everyone has copied me and destroyed my advantage".
The problems with the patent industry are patents abused by companies who have absolutely no interest in developing them but rather trolling them to simply extract money from other companies. Hence the reason the law should be reformed to attach patentable rights to have a enforceable requirement to actually 'use' the patent - thus destroying the majority of trolls. If you dont actively use it as it is meant to be - you have nothing. The requirements and the search of prior art should be greater and longer - to ensure patents are truly innovative and this should not be the role of the courts (due to expense, time and so on within the legal system)
The entire basis of patents was essentially trying to protect the little guy, with an idea against the onslaught of bigger companies just copying them outright and giving them no chance. You state "gone are the days of Steve Wozniak" and indeed "gone would be the days of apple" long ago - because he just wanted everyone to have everything and thats not how you run any business.
I agree that patent law needs reform - but I totally disagree that your somewhat misconstrued article that we should simply destroy patents all together. It should destroy them if they are not being actively used - but a company trying to protect its innovations in not something that I'm against. If you had a startup and a patentable innovation - it would be ridiculous to assume that you would be willing to forgo millions/billions in revenue for some abstract concept of "a greater good". America is a capitalist society and therefore you are fighting that as a concept - not the patent industry. I know my post will get down-voted but it's a reality of business and running a business - you either file for protection or you don't and get copied.
You're right, the entire basis of patents was to protect the little guys. But nowadays the exact opposite is happening. Over the last 200 years, the big guys have wielded their influence to change the system to their benefit. And now they abuse patents to crush anything that threatens their leadership position, whether that's a little guy trying to innovate or another big guy trying to play catch up.
Either way, the consumer loses, and for what? Innovation certainly isn't any better off.
You have no way of knowing whether this is true. Patents could come with a host of disadvantages and drags on innovation and still be a net positive for innovation. There's just no way to know without a control group.
As long as we're throwing out opinions, I find it very hard to believe that the patent system, broken though it is, is anything other than a HUGE net positive for innovation. I'm talking about the patent system across all industries, but I suspect the same would be true for the tech industry specifically. Companies across many industries regularly spend hundreds of millions or billions of dollars to develop products that are primarily protected by patents. If we did away with patents, many of those investments would no longer be made, and the rest would be as shrouded in secrecy as possible. And secrecy is a patent that potentially never expires.
The Economist (hardly a bastion of the free software movement) quoted a 2008 study showing:
A study in 2008 found that American public companies' total profits from patents (excluding pharmaceuticals) in 1999 were about $4 billion—but that the associated litigation costs were $14 billion.
Clearly the litigation costs have grown significantly since 1999. It is unclear to me if the profits have kept pace, but even if they have that still would mean patents cost over 3-times the financial benefit they bring.
It's a myth that software must be protected through patents. Copyright and trade dress law is sufficient.
There is a whole field dedicated to answering this kinds of questions, it is called economics, and there is quite a bit of research in this area analyzing historical evidence from different legal systems, times and industries.
And most of the evidence indicates that patents hinder and stop innovation, and that most innovation and progress happens when there are no patents:
Science doesn't work that way. Even if the preponderance of evidence were the standard, you haven't provided evidence that the preponderance of the evidence supports your position. And even if every economist in the world shared the same opinion, it would be a meaningless claim (even if you got a petition and they all signed it) from a scientific standpoint.
I believe you are wrong, but I would fall into the same error if I simply made the opposite claims you do, and I cannot prove my position scientifically, so I won't argue it.
It is a mistake to simply link to a book and said it is evidence, because that's just being a lazy person. People should be able to come up with their own arguments in a discussion.
That being said, it's an economic book that should be evaluated on its own merit. Calling a book "ideological" is quite unfair unless you're prepared to make an argument against the book's arguments.
Do you seriously believe, no one else can come up same/similar functionality/product? I would like a system where they keep the patent secret(nothing is published) for 5 years, and if in 5 years no one comes up with same/similar idea, patent is granted for next 10 years (rather than current 20 years from filing), otherwise patent is not granted. My guess is 99% of software patents will go away.
If you take the lawsuit for what it is, namely that only Apple can have pinch-to-zoom et.al, yes the consumer loses.
But if this lawsuit makes vendors keep a little more distance between each other, I'm all for it. As a consumer, I'd rather have a wide array of choices rather than one cash cow and its copycats, and I'd argue that this is what most people would understand as innovation. (And this is the opposite of innovation: http://allthingsd.com/20120807/samsungs-2010-report-on-how-i...)
Are we talking about patentable innovations, or something else? A lot of patentable innovations do not make anything, a lot things which are not patentable make boat load of bucks. Your comment seem to have clouded this distinction.
It seems to me that you are questioning the basis of government granted monopoly. But this grant is not on the basis of money generation, but on innovation and benefits to the society by disclosure.
Imagine if someone discovered and invented a principle and device for unlimited cheap source of energy. If he kept it to himself, it may definitely help him to unknown riches. And possibly the secret could die with him. But if he shared his secret sauce, then all of us in the society will benefit a lot. Patents are a means to that end. What do you think?
First of all, this imaginary genius could still choose to not disclose his innovation. Patents are optional. Take for instance the Coca Cola recipe. Its kept as a trade secret . But consumers can still choose to drink Pepsi and co. instead.
Second, I doubt a case like this, an truly important innovation that only one person will come up with, has ever occurred or will ever occur. If you look at the history of science and innovation, there is apparently always multiple people or groups working independently on the very same innovation. Famous examples are the first piloted flight  or the discovery of calculus .
For me this is the strongest case against, today's, patent law. We overstate the importance of the supposed single genius that humanity depends on. And yes, I question the the basis for any monopoly.
In the Apple vs Samsung case though, it was _also_ about consumer confusion. Samsung did not only use Apples innovation like pinch-to-zoom, which in my opinion should be fine, but tried to fool buyers into thinking that they got an iPhone by copying Apple's look and feel.
You could say, that any idiot would see the difference. There is no Apple logo or iPhone label on Samsung products. But, I argue, thats just our geeky perspective. My grand parents or even parents wouldn't be able to tell the difference, unless I write them a note with 'A P P L E' on it.
I could live happily with this problem, but I can agree that this is a grey area.
If this 'education' is not performed, then they'll never know. I've seen it with my own eyes.
The real value to Coke is the brand, marketing, advertising, and bottling network.
There are numerous versions of the Coke recipe floating around, and seven open source cola recipes ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenCola_(drink) ).
I disagree that patenting was meant only for the small guys. Patenting was meant to make innovation happen and fast. Simple as that. Social welfare policies are designed for the small guy.
In any case how expensive is it to file a patent, or get a job with the company which has the patent and work with them.
The so called small guy you talk about does not give a damn about innovation. He wants to be the next Steve Jobs.
Let's admit it. Money is important for everyone. Apple, Samsung, Small guy, Big guy. Everyone.
What one can discuss is how to collect taxes from people and deploy that to support indie innovators(if may call them so) who want to fly solo.
No. The point of the patent system was to provide an incentive to documenting your inventions and sharing them with others.
When Apple had clearly stolen the look and feel of Delicious Library to make iBook. The author was a "small company". He even show some happiness that his work was used by Apple.
The point is, he couldn't have sued Apple. Simply because, actually, a small company could certainly not win over a big one. The big one will use a lot of money to keep the trial as long as possible while continue to steal your stuff. Even if won, it would have last too long to save your business. And you had lost a lot of energy. This remember me the medieval justice were the richer always win.
Actual patent system only give an advantage to big companies.
What if big player start to sue small startups because they used the double-click, the swipe, a wood texture that looks like a library?
Apple bought the "coverflow" look from a small company
So, can I claim that, because he put books on shelves in his software that he stole the idea from us, when we did it 10 years before him?
His claim that Apple "stole" this from him is completely absurd to the point of nonsensical. He couldn't have sued Apple because his claim is nonsense.
Just as my claim that he stole our idea of putting books on shelves is nonsense as well.
The sad thing is, so many people believe this kind of nonsense.
"Hey I put books on shelves in software!" Look how innovative I am!
To compare this to patents is beyond reaching.
Clearly you are very misguided. You are comparing featurephones with smartphones (the ones with screens and stuff). Smartphones existed way before the iPhone.
It makes me extremely sad that the marketing lies of Apple are taken for truth.
Apple may have invented the vendor lock-in, though! :P
Oh, and Apple's vendor lock-in is still a damn sight better than the telco lock-in it replaced (in the US).
The first iPhone didn't even support 3rd party apps (and afaik in the beginning Steve Jobs never intended to support native apps). Other smartphones had native apps for ages, though.
People should just stop to pretend that apple invented phones with big screens, it's ridiculous.
I think the iPhone's main novelty in the market was that Apple invested heavily in consumer-friendly design and aesthetic appeal, and then they marketed the shit out it. They single-handedly dragged the smart-phone market across the chasm, just like they did with the MP3 player market. Brilliant and gorgeous work. But not in areas that I think are deserving of patent protection except when the R&D drives some deeper technical innovation.
Yes the iphone was shiny and beautiful, but it also worked! This "treo was awesome" straw man floats around alot until I actually ask them about it and then the whitewashed memories come flooding back and people step back and say, you're right, it was awful.
This is not how civil discourse works, and for the record I owned Windows Mobile phones before the iPhone and while they were not as good as the iPhone or the HTC Dream or many competitors, they had rounded corners, a bezel, a rough multitasking framework, apps etc.
They were in every way a proto-iPhone, and the idea that the iPhone did anything but promote smartphones to the average person is hilarious.
I do think the PalmOS was showing its age at the time, and a bad app or extension could cause a lot of trouble. But having used PalmOS for years, getting things reasonably stable wasn't hard for me. And as a nerd, I'm pretty tolerant of crashes.
So no, it's not a joke. The Treo was a solid nerd smartphone for me.
Hopefully pull-to-refresh isn't patented. I'm not about to look either lest I be found willfully infringing.
False. Patents don't cover features. Patents cover inventions. Apple won against samsung for copying apple's solution for how to implement a feature. Not for having that feature.
This misrepresentation trivializes the nature of the patents and is ideologically driven. Don't fall for it.
If you disagree, try reading the patent.
The iphone was not a smartphone when it was released. It lacked the ability to install ANY third party software. It was essentially a very snazzy feature phone.
Its success did not come due to its smartphone credentials, which are still heavily inferior to its competition. It's wholly owned to its design and usability.
Any phone that let you install your own applications.
Even if that were true, the problem for me is Apple didn't patent the iPhone. They patented tiny little implementation details, like pinch-to-zoom and slide-to-unlock. The iPhone was revolutionary not because of rounded rectangles and a regular grid of icons. It was revolutionary because it was a phone that people actually enjoyed using. Did pinch-to-zoom and whatnot play a role in that? Possibly, but this whole case hinged on a handful of tiny implementation details and that's what I'm disappointed about.
It's like blocking the sale of a car because someone had a patent on having the indicator paddles on the steering column. Are there other places to put the indicator paddle? Sure, but it's only a tiny detail in a hugely complex system.
Having said that, I'm happy Samsung got done for the trade-dress stuff, because that was pretty obviously blatant copying.
People often compare it to the Tv market or the car market. Yes, all TVs look alike. They are all ugly. Yes all cars look the same: like shiny bling to impress an ape. I dont consider the lack of choice in design in those markets a good thing.
I dont like patents, but i would love for products in all categories to look more unique. Maybe Apple should have won because of the tradedress. But not because of the patents.
Apple also has a great deal of very fundamental patents with regard to the unique way for reading touch screens that they invented. This does not mean only Apple can have touch interfaces, but the method they invented for implementing them, however, they do have patents on.
The reason this trial was about these lesser patents and trade dress was the same as the reason it was over products that are no longer on the shelves-- the legal system moves very slow. The "big gun" patents hadn't yet been granted at the time Apple started getting sued.
Also, I'm curious to know which are the "big gun" patents you're referring to. Does this mean Apple will be able to sue Samsung again for even more?
No, we weren't.
I had a Cingular 8125 (HTC Wizard) a year and a half before the iPhone was introduced and it was perfectly fine. Apple just added shiny icons and took away the keyboard and stylus. BFD.
Until the iPhone, touch-screen phones were slow, clunky and unresponsive. They had shitty resistive screens that were a total pain to use. (LG actually released a capacitive phone before the iPhone, but the software was the same shit we had for ages so it didn't change a thing). Even simple things like lists were scrolled by aiming for a 2px wide scrollbar and dragging it.
But then the iPhone came along with smooth and fluid graphics and animations, actually innovative and fun touch gestures like simple flicks to scroll through lists (and a 60fps smooth animation while doing so), pinch-to-zoom and so on. The experience was actually enjoyable.
The same thing happened with the iPad. Back in the early 2000's we had "tablets" with a downsized desktop OS (Windows XP). Total shit for a touch-screen device.
Even after the iPhone some competitors failed to realize what made it good. Nokia's touch screen abominations were just sad - and they're still releasing some terrible Symbian devices like the new PureView 808. The Verge's review summarizes Symbian's problems pretty well:
> THE SYMBIAN EFFECT: WHEN GREAT HARDWARE IS RENDERED USELESS BY TERRIBLE SOFTWARE
> Actions like scrolling or pinch-to-zoom feel like requests you’re filing with a clerk somewhere in a bureaucratic dystopia — to be carried out at some indeterminate time in the future. Completing this slow-motion train wreck is the only thing worse than unresponsive operation: a complete crash of the entire phone.
Apple needs to stop with their bullshit litigation but they truly did push the industry forward with touch devices. It isn't a coincidence that touch screen phones exploded after the iPhone and that people actually started caring about tablets after the iPad.
Well, I don't even agree with you on that.
I got five years out of my "unenjoyable" HTC smartphone. I could tether it to my laptop without forking over extra money. I could run whatever apps were available (which is more than could be said for the iPhone on launch day, because there weren't any). I had a full keyboard, a web browser that supported SSL, a music player, and Pocket PuTTY -- should I have given a shit about smooth scrolling?
Lucky for Apple that most competitors had key people who thought exactly like you do for a good while after the iPhone launched - why give a shit about smooth scrolling and polished, intuitive interfaces?
No, it was not "perfectly fine." Otherwise they would have sold a hundred million of them.
Give credit where it's due, for Pete's sake. It is a fact that prior to the iPhone, cell phones sucked ass. It is also a fact that granting Apple a twenty-year legal monopoly on trivial "innovations" will hurt consumers as much as it will Apple's competitors.
This is a lot like saying to a friend who sees $100 on the ground that it can't really be $100, otherwise someone would have picked it up already.
Apple is a marketing powerhouse. They are brilliant at it. They hook you emotionally. They convince you that they created some device specifically for you. They really make you believe that it is changing your life. That it is revolutionary. They even help you rationalize flaws. (iPhone drops cals? Oh, that's just stupid AT&T's fault.)
That's how they sell 100s of millions of devices. The devices are also quite slick, but you have to concede that slickness alone is not what drives Apple's profits. The marketing budget numbers came out during this trial I believe, and they were staggering.
(Shrug) A $100 bill lying on the ground will be picked up very quickly, by the original owner if no one else. That means that if you see $100 on the ground, chances are that it's not real. It might be a $1 or $10 bill that you've mistaken at first for $100. It might be counterfeit or play money. It might be someone playing the old "glue some cash to the pavement and laugh at/film people trying to pick it up" game. The chances that someone has actually misplaced a $100 bill in public, and that you are the first to come upon it, are very low indeed.
They convince you that they created some device specifically for you.
I don't know about you, but if the engineers don't do their job well, the marketers have no chance of making me believe that. Otherwise my house would be full of shiny gad.... wait, uh, OK, moving on to the next point....
The marketing budget numbers came out during this trial I believe, and they were staggering.
Larger than the marketing spend across the entire Android ecosystem?
The fact is that there are plenty of tech companies who spend more on marketing than Apple does, and who often have better ads, as well. Each of those companies has something in common: they sell less stuff than Apple does. Therefore, your dismissal of Apple as a "marketing" company, while not necessarily wrong, must be incomplete.
It's impressive how you try and own the very fallacy you're using. It doesn't change the result but gives the superficial impression that you've addressed the criticism.
> The fact is that there are plenty of tech companies who spend more on marketing than Apple does, and who often have better ads, as well. Each of those companies has something in common: they sell less stuff than Apple does. Therefore, your dismissal of Apple as a "marketing" company, while not necessarily wrong, must be incomplete.
Citation needed. Apple advertise their products on UK TV to a much higher rate than any other smartphone. I've only ever seen brief SGS3 and N7 adverts, I see an iPad or iPhone advert every other break.
Stop making assertions and demanding they're right. You are not.
I actually think that is a BFD. If it had a keyboard, the whole idea of dynamic UI's would not exist.
Would anyone think that angry birds is cool if we had to play it with arrow buttons on the keyboard?
Handspring Treos were dedicated touchscreen-based phone-PDA hybrids not much later.
PalmOS had grids of icons for its screens from day one.
Apple's primary innovation wasn't technical, it was marketing. They tied a few pre-existing ideas together slightly better, made them more shiny and used the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field to convince the world it was a never-before-seen quantum leap.
Look at the recurring pattern in this thread and elsewhere.
Apple fanatic: Apple deserves a 20 year government enforced monopoly because they did it first. Everyone else stole it, and are thieves, who deserve to pay.
Member of the reality-based consensus: small portable computers existed before the iPad/iPhone and every individual part that you could name (or patent) had been done before by others. Concrete factual example A, B, C...
<sound of crunching mental gears and cognitive dissonance defences engaging>
Apple fanatic: But Apple did it better and make more money! Therefore it doesn't matter who did it first. People who build on the innovations of others and provide them to consumers are what is important here.
You could spend all day trying to get them to face up to their conflicting logic, but they'll resist with all their might.
The reality is, you guys are ideologically driven- you want to get google off the hook for stealing Apples inventions, so you pretend like the patents cover features rather than implementations.
Your dishonesty is shameful.
This is Samsung vs Apple. Not Google vs Apple. Don't be so arrogant and blind.
> Your dishonesty is shameful.
Pull down notifications. Begin backpedalling.
But you bolster my point: it's clearly Apple on one side. Who is on the other side in order for the anti-bad-patent crowd to be labelled collectively as "ideologically driven"?
I think that those "innovations" seem simple now in hindsight, but why didn't any of the companies previously making smart phones or PDAs (Palm, Windows CE, HP, Compaq, Dell, etc) come up with something that not only the hardcore nerds would actually want to use?
I really don't think it was just marketing. Apple made a smartphone that almost everyone could pick up and enjoy using.
I definitely see both sides to this story. It sucks that Apple is killing fair (and unfair) competition but it also sucks that Samsung can just sit there and blatantly copy Apple's innovations. There needs to be a balance.
This is the best quote I've seen about the verdict:
"Samsung only found itself in trouble with the products that copied liberally from Apple. It did not help their case that they had a hundred page document describing what to copy nor the fact that Google went to them and said "do not copy Apple that blatantly"."
One of the reasons they sucked, was because they had to...
They were done 2, 5, 10, 20 years before the iPhone, iPad, etc came out... When we had CPUs, screens, drives, etc, that were inferior and could not handle the same load or work that modern hardware does.
Three years earlier in 2005, the N770 had a bigger higher DPI screen than the iPhone, HTC had phones with the same CPU speed.
But none of those devices had software specially made for finger touch with a capacitive screen. They didn't suck because the technology didn't exist, they sucked because other companies didn't see further ahead than the existing, navigation button / stylus driven interfaces that had existed for 10 years prior.
If you need further proof, just look at the time it has taken Nokia, RIM and others to respond to the iPhone. It took _years_. If technology was the limiting factor, you'd think they would be just as aware of technological developments as Apple was, and have similar devices to the iPhone lined up and ready to go by 2007?
Why didn't Apple just rebrand a Symbian or Maemo device and put an Apple logo on it, if marketing is the main deal? (Or better yet, why not just relaunch the Newton GUI?)
Apples invention was the combination of many simple things into one good product, but they are protecting it by patenting all of the simple things.
I went through so many Windows Mobile phones until I finally realized that the joke was on me. The user experience, the battery life, the apps, the bugs, the limitations imposed on operating system data and indeces, and the hardware were all horrific. I can't extract anything good from that experience, let alone say that any of those devices were "perfectly fine."
If you think "pinch-to-zoom on a mobile device with touch screen" is a reasonable thing to patent so that nobody except Apple can use it on a smartphone, then you would have also had have no problem if:
- Someone patented "tabbed browsing" on a desktop computer and nobody could sell a browser with tabs on a desktop platform
- Someone patented the pull-down list-select control on a desktop computer, and now everyone writing a GUI for the desktop platform would have to come up with their own variation of a list-select control that is sufficiently different from the patented one.
I could come up with many more similar examples, but I'm not at all sure how/whether the above two hit the mark as an analogy for the trick Apple just pulled (because I find all three situations absurd).
Hm, now this makes me wonder, Ableton Live has this truly brilliant way of navigating a waveform/timeline effortlessly to anywhere in both large and tiny zoom scales, it's incredibly efficient and quite intuitive, and I've (so far) never seen any audio editing software that has something quite like it. I wonder if they patented it? It is way more innovative and non-obvious than the "pinch-to-zoom" that Apple grabbed. Also there are quite a number of different but quite obvious ways to navigate a waveform on the same input devices (desktop+mouse, usually) unlike "pinch-to-zoom", which is really the most obvious gesture for zooming on a touch-display.
Because I was thinking of maybe one day coding up a very simple waveform editor, and I wouldn't be satisfied until I at least tried to implement that mode of navigation. Of course as long as I don't sell it, I'm safe from patents right?
 just adding that because as far as I'm aware these software/design patents only work because they're coupled to a specific piece of hardware (in the US, that is. for now, thankfully it works a bit differently in the EU)
So that would be where maybe my analogy breaks down. However:
Can someone maybe explain me/us what is exactly so unique and non-obvious about the way they implemented it, then? And yes I did read the patent, or at least an excerpt of it that appeared to explain roughly how any decent programmer would implement such a thing, given an hour to think it over and an OS/GUI API that is vaguely object-oriented and event-based.
I did read that part.
Does anyone have the non-obvious part handy? (for the pinch-to-zoom specifically, as I just want to focus on one thing, this conversation is convoluted enough as it is)
I agree that this would be absurd, but I think it kind of misses the point of the case. Samsung pretty clearly copied Apple in a "look and feel" way that goes beyond the particular collection of patents. The patents in the case are just the instruments that Apple used to punish the copying.
There are all sorts of other phones that technically infringe on Apple's patents (and vice-versa), but Apple doesn't seem interested in taking the offensive on these. I think Apple's position is much more about the spirit of Samsung's copying rather than defending any particular technical patent violation. But in order to bring a case, you have to pick out some particular violations rather than argue some abstract notion of "copying the spirit" of the iPhone.
But so far nobody has really explained what this actually means. You're all dancing around the question.
It's very simple: what is the non-absurd way in which Samsung violated the pinch-to-zoom patent in particular? And please be specific, if you're about to use the word "implementation", I'd like to know what you understand by that term. This is not "Explain like I'm 5".
I'm not trying to argue that the patents should have been grated, or that they are a good thing. I'm just saying that they were the particular tools that Apple used to punish a form of copying that went beyond the patents in question.
For example, Jeff Han demonstrated a similar feature, but his system uses cameras to take pictures of your hands.
Thus both he and Apple could have patented their inventions for implementing this feature.
The idea that these patents cover the rights to use features is misinformation designed to make them look trivial.
Of course they seem absurd- they are made to look absurd to you to get you to oppose patents.
And they are doing this by lying to you about what the patents cover.
Of course you can't (officially) patent algorithms either (unless they're sufficiently technical, like MP3 and LZW).
It seems what you're avoiding to state clearly, is what exactly you believe this patent does cover, then. What is it?
Is it that Samsung shouldn't have used a touch screen on a smartphone if they also wanted to implement pinch-to-zoom? Because that's still absurd.
Really, I asked an honest question, and all you say is that's not what the patent covers and it's disinformation--well I was asking wasn't I? So enlighten us, what is the non-trivial bit that the patent covers??
I've met this method of arguing before and consider it a trap. "I think its this, prove me wrong!" In my experience, no amount of research on my part will meet the burden of your opinion.
If you want to argue that the claim is trivial, please, feel free to do the research and quote the patent yourself. Your speculation about what the patent covers is not compelling.
Constantly on this page-- and it appears that this has happened 50-100 times, people have asserted that the patent covers the "right" to use the feature and not the invention.
In fact, the entire basis of the anti-patent movement is grounded in that falsehood.
Thank you for acknowledging that it is false, that was my only issue (because debating specific patents applicability is far more technical of a discussion than you can have in an ideologically driven site like this.)
The end result is that no one else can implement pinch to zoom on a smart phone.
The patent is also overly broad in that it covers all multi-touch touch screen devices. So that whether I use an infrared overlay or a capacitive screen it is still covered.
I've also watched a series of curious arguments revolving around the assertion that patent somehow protect small business which are innovation; as if big companies won't dredge up incredibly expensive patents from purchased portfolios to force licence agreements.
I short, I've learned that the average software & design patent proponent really is as disingenuous and intellectually bankrupt as I have suspected... at least this venue.
Patents are not intended to be a lottery rewarding insight. Patents protect development effort. One-click fails that test.
But in terms of prior art, Jeff Bezos and Tim O'Reilly backed BountyQuest in 2001 as a forum for researching prior art for patents. They couldn't monetize it, so it shut down in 2003 - but not before O'Reilly received what he calls a "killer piece of prior art" on the one-click patent, which he has on his bookshelf in case "Amazon loses its senses and sues someone". [http://openp2p.com/pub/a/oreilly/ask_tim/2003/bountyquest_10...]
The point here is not that your example is wrong. Where you go wrong is assuming that a patent granted on software is anything like a useful mechanism to support innovation.
The test is asking whether the invention is an adequate distance beyond or above the state of the art. The state of the art at the time had no idea of such a simple one-click method - if it did - why wasn't it invented ? The fact it can be implemented so easily is irrelevant to fundamental idea that its innovative, non-obvious and unique. The best ideas are usually the ones no one see's and yes I am a front-end dev so I deal with more interaction components than anything.
Patents do not protect development effort - they protect novel, non-obvious and useful concept's. If they protected development effort - it would be a requirement to actually develop the idea and there is no such requirement and indeed many inventions wouldn't be possible to protect if such a requirement existed - that is, you must fully develop the invention before being granted protection. You're contention that because something is simple infers that its not patentable is incorrect in my mind.
However, I think I don't "need to lose" my opinion that innovation consists of more than saying "put a grid of buttons on a larger screen than most phones" or even "click one link to get to an order screen". You're welcome to your view, although I question your ability to understand what innovation is. I don't issue arrogant ultimata that you "need" to lose your attitude. I just think you'll fail if you live your life that way.
My point is - the unfortunate way that patent law currently works is - you are a doomed if you have something innovative that is patentable - not to patent it because you are most likely going to invest a huge level of resources developing it only to have someone copy it later without anything to fall back on. You might not agree with the patent system, you might hate the way it currently works (and I agree with this notion) but you are stuck with it and you aren't protecting your business from an intellectual property stand point - or providing adequate shareholder return if you don't seek to protect it.
You will do hundreds or thousands of hours developing, fixing and perfecting what could be an amazing idea - you will (maybe) get lots of fresh VC investment and take money from your parents, friends and family all who believe in you - only to push it to market and have someone copy it in a flash and reproduce it without question. What to do then ?
Apple's victory in this case is a negative for society.
Just because something is innovative doesn't mean it isn't inevitable.
I believe capacitive touchscreen interfaces like the iphone's were inevitable. In fact, pinch to zoom was widely demoed before the iphone's launch. That doesn't invalidate the patent, but it does invalidate the idea that without apple it wouldn't have been invented.
Should the first on a market that was going to arise anyway get the monopoly rights on that market? If we were talking about a 5 year patent I could begrudgingly accept it, but to see the touchscreen device market chained to apple's whims for two decades cannot be anything but bad for the customer.
Thus someone else demoing pinch to zoom using a different implementation is completely irrelevant to this discussion.
You guys are trying to redefine patents in order to argue that they should be "reformed"!
By the way, patents don't cover implementations, they cover methods. A method can be so generic that it covers all possible implementations.
Specifically, apple's 915 patent seems to cover two things: determining whether you're in scroll or zoom mode based on the number of discrete inputs on the screen, and also while zooming rubberbanding the content if zoomed out too much. The second claim is something you could replace with some other solution (and samsung did that in a software update), but the first one seems generic enough that it covers all sensible implementations of the concept.
You think that it is just "checking out with a single button press", but that's not what the patent covers.
This is the fundamental problem with the anti-patent position. It is based on a lie.
The lie is the claim that patents give the "right" to use "features", like checking out with one click. They do not.
The One-Click patent, for instance, spends a great deal of time talking about fraud.
If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than
all others of exclusive property, it is the action of
the thinking power called an idea, which an individual
may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to
himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself
into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot
dispossess himself of it.
That ideas should freely spread from one to another over
the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man,
and improvement of his condition, seems to have been
peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she
made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without
lessening their density in any point, and like the air in
which we breathe, move, and have our physical being,
incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation.
Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.
Ideas are not property. Allowing people to own them is extremely harmful, and should only be done to prevent even more harmful situations from arising. We certainly shouldn't give someone ownership of an idea for no other reason than to reward them for having it first.
a) the society doesn't benefit
b) then you do nothing with it
c) then you don't commercialise it for gain
d) if you don't protect it - you get crushed by everyone else who does
and so on and so on. Indeed, Jefferson stated
"Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility"
Discouraging commericalisation of unique ideas - discourages those who are capitalist and want to move society forward. If every had no protection of their ideas - then all good ideas would be copied and the incentive to produce new ideas would be reduced as a result - or rather everyone remains secret and tries to produce entire products by themselves - again argubly reducing innovation. As I stated in my first post
"The problems with the patent industry are patents abused by companies who have absolutely no interest in developing them but rather trolling them to simply extract money from other companies. Hence the reason the law should be reformed to attach patentable rights to have a enforceable requirement to actually 'use' the patent - thus destroying the majority of trolls. If you dont actively use it as it is meant to be - you have nothing. The requirements and the search of prior art should be greater and longer - to ensure patents are truly innovative and this should not be the role of the courts (due to expense, time and so on within the legal system)"
The argument with the cavemen is a primitive example. My response - Caveman B would most likely build it or kill Caveman A to build it. Which extrapolated to the protection of ideas in modern society may very well occur - competitor A and competitor B want to succeed more than each other and so on. If Caveman A is stronger than Caveman B - then he may very well ask for fruit to borrow his design - Caveman B gives him something of value to borrow his unique design - the other alternative.
Idea's should be able to be commercially protected. You suggest that by no one having a right to commercialise them that society would be better off - what is then the point of innovating and trying to essentially fulfil the capitalist dream of commercialising inventions to profitability if everyone is freely copying everyone else's ideas ? It results in no competitive advantages to some degree. The desire to be innovative and drive society forward is closely coupled with the profitability and commercialisation attached. That's not to say that all inventions require profitability - but most people seeking to protect their inventions are seeking to do so to ensure they maximize the potential of their idea's from a commercialisation standpoint. If anyone was free to copy anyone's truly awesome idea - that doesn't reward or provide additional incentive for people to innovate per my post below - what you get instead is the Samwer brothers who just outright cloned everything.
If you allow someone to patent cotton gins just because they thought that they sounded swell and wrote the idea down, you've seriously hindered any kind of market at all. Your idea is worthless without an embodiment, and no one else can make anything until your patent expires.
If you allow someone to patent all cotton gins based on their single implementation one, you again have poisoned future implementations -- perhaps better and more efficient ones with completely different physical forms -- just because they belong to the idea class of "cotton separating machines".
The point is a very important one: ideas are not property. We can go a little further and say all IP is not property either. You cannot be deprived of it (short of a lead pipe), but you can be deprived of your granted right to profit from it, for a little while at least. That's the motivation you speak of, and that's the only reason patents exist at all, at least in the US.
Of course, this was only after Amazon bullied others, including B&N, using the bogus patent.
If US entrepreneurs suck at serving a global market (and they do - failing even with covering Canada and Mexico for years, their direct neighbors), someone else is bound to fill the niche.
Instead of whining about the Samwers, how about expanding as soon as possible?
Either there's money to be had abroad (then go and get it) or there's not (then why aren't Samwers bankrupt by now, at least thrice?).
I'm not "whining" about the Samwers - I am bringing them into the larger context of this debate. That is - with patent protection - their outright clones would not exist. You draw a completely different imputation by comparing it to business strategy of expanding faster and cloning a product. I am not against, in any sense, taking an idea (groupon) and making it work in a different part of the world - as long as it adds something to it - a different UI and so on.
The Samwers don't add that and that's what is detestable. If your startup worked hard, built a product with a great UI that is commented upon and then a competitor clones it outright in a different market - are you suggesting you wouldn't be pissed ? Because that's exactly what the Samwers do. And sometimes it's not so easy to just "expand as soon as possible" - payments is a whole massive legal headache (in the case of stripe). Verification systems, financial approval and so on and so on per country and many others. Plus, expanding quickly involves local offices, larger teams, greater strategic planning, more investment capital which then dilutes existing people more and so on and so on. So it's not a simple matter of "expand as quickly as possible" but sometimes that's just not feasible.
They probably "should" do that by offering this as a service to promising US startups. But who would pay for that an even remotely comparable amount of $$$ than what they get now?
The only difference is that they evidently found a good formula to do it with repeated successes by focusing on early localization on European (and especially German) market, and so became famous.
By the way, I'm in favor of patents in general, but with very stringent non-obviousness requirements. IIRC the USPTO changed its attitude not so many years ago here, going from a "reject as much as possible" one to a "accept as much as possible" one.
Thanks for the pointer, I'd never heard of these guys. Pretty amazing...
No one brings this up, but all of those phones looked and behaved the same as well. Presumable the first inventor of said phone style could have patented everything and disallowed anyone else to make a dumb phone. This is what the author is speaking to; the notion that an inventor, if with enough resources, can legally own the only logical way to do a particular thing. And if armed with enough of those, can legally own an industry. You don't have to be a lawyer to see there is something wrong with that.
Some of us may have been, but technically speaking that's not true. Samsung, LG, Motorola, and Nokia all had high end devices available with large touch screens prior to Apple's iPhone release. What Apple offered (that was revolutionary) was an easy way for users of their device to purchase content. They achieved this since they required users to have an iTunes account when provisioning their device; and they got away with that because they already had many of the users in iTunes already.
Apple definitely made advances to large screen smartphones (ex: their touch screen was far better than all other offerings at the time, and remains superior to most alternative devices); but to say that it was the iPhone alone (a piece of hardware) that revolutionized the mobile industry shadows integral aspects of the legal and historical argument.
You're not seriously trying to suggest that one-click is a reasonable patent, are you?
It is profoundly dishonest to characterize patents using a trivial phrase like "one-click" and then pretend like that also means that the patent is itself trivial.
I know why you do it- it fits your ideology.
But it doesn't fit reality.
Until then I'll have to assume we live in different realities.
You mean a client communicates with a server with information, then returns some information? How delightfully ingenious!
Your idea of what this patent covers is incorrect. It is not a patent on the feature of "press a button to make a purchase and skip the checkout process" or "have a cookie so we know who you are".
You continue to innovate. You do a better job at understanding your customer's needs and fulfilling them. You do a better job at marketing, positioning, and advertising. You give better customer service. There's tons of ways to compete, other than raw product uniqueness.
According to your article you sit back and say "oh thats totally ok because thats innovation and I'm happy that everyone has copied me and destroyed my advantage".
Meh. A better product is not a sustainable competitive advantage anyway. Better to have a product "arms race" where everybody is forced to "innovate or die", IMO.
How exactly do you do a better job at marketing, positioning, advertising, customer service, etc. as a small business? The implication of being a small business is that you are resource-constrained and cannot do those things as well as the big players can, which is why you need patent protection for your innovations.
I disagree with this implication. Being small just means you have to use the resources that you do have, to greater effect. And a small business has a lot of advantages in it's own way... you can typically learn faster, react faster, give customers more personal attention, and you can pursue niches that would be too small for a larger player to focus on.
which is why you need patent protection for your innovations.
Right, because if Apple decides to use technology created by Enraged Camel Software, Inc. you're going to be able to afford the legal fight with them, even if you do have a patent?
And never mind the money you wasted getting a patent in the first place. Depending on who you believe, it can routinely cost somewhere north of $50,000 just to get a patent. What else could a small company / startup do with $50,000?
And never mind that your startup can easily be attacked by $RANDOM_BIGCORP for "violating" some submarine patent that you never knew about, if you step on their toes. IBM alone has so many freaking patents, I'd bet they could construct a reasonable enough patent lawsuit against nearly any new startup that emerges, if they felt like it. And even if they lost in the end, they'd bankrupt the startup in the process.
I just don't think patents (and software patents in particular) do any good for startups / entrepreneurs. Actually, I think they are actively harmful; especially when the USPTO is granting these ridiculously overbroad patents for trivially obvious ideas.
To me, instead of a patent office there should be a central online register to archive jury-understandable photos and descriptions or ideally videos of the stuff you do simply to have a validated reference of when you thought of it.
And then patent/IP Law may simply should read soething like this:
It is ok to base any creative work on the work of others as long as the result is something new and great in it´s own right.
It´s not ok to copy the work of others without significantly improving it simply for making money.
Done. Plain Language.
Everything else, the moral right or wrong would be left to a Jury with guidance from a Judge.
Which they basically did in the Apple case. All that patent BS aside, I guess they descided on the basic morale question and started the paperwork.
No it wasn't. Why does this misconception exist? The point of patents is to open up trade secrets for the benefit of society and advancement of the sciences. We don't allow patents to encourage inventors or make sure they can profit, that is the price we pay to get their knowledge, it is not the goal, just the means.
Me and 2 other people invented a product that hadn't existed before and created an entire lexicon for it. Then jokers at a larger company duplicated our product. The manual and website had been at least rewritten but the similarities to our stuff were obvious.
Eventually we found evidence of typos in the internals of our product showing up in their UI. That was when we got a lawyer. We significantly slowed down their product launch and probably got a few managers fired.
It took a few years for our patent to be issued, which finally got them to fuck off. I would have gladly traded a much shorter term on our patent for a faster issuance. Those years felt like decades.
(We didn't appeal to the Internet because the Internet was a much much different creature back then. A corporate blog was unheard of. And it could have backfired: we had one loose cannon employee in our own company who went around a conference telling everyone how that company had ripped us off; the next year at the same conference everyone remembered the story but many people mis-remembered who had stolen from whom. Which is why we tried to handle things with the legal system instead of by trying to tell everyone what assholes they were. Although there is a Texas company that is now complete poison to have on your resume at any company I work for.)
Think of Groupon's business model. There's nothing specifically innovative about it: forced email list, 1 product per day, discounts. But, put together it formed a successful business model. Had they not thought of it and tested it in the marketplace all their copy-cat competitors probably would not exist today either.
At some stage someone someone invented department stores. Someone hypothesized that yuppie americans would like to eat sushi. Someone thought that doing massages in full view in malls would create a new market of people who wouldn't have gone through the book-in-advance, go behind a heavy curtain, 1 hour minimum normally associated with the trade. In Australia I would guess that this last one tripled (or more) the massage therapy market.
It's hard to talk about patents without slipping into the legalize definitions of important concepts like 'non-trivial' but I think a common sense definition is 'wouldn't have been invented otherwise.' A lot of these innovations are genuinely nontrivial by that definition.
They weren't developed in r&d labs but they are all genuinely innovative. They didn't spend huge sums on r&d but someone did the economic cousin of spending, they risked (usually personally) a lot testing them in the market. Much or most of the profits eventually went to copycats. Without the innovator most would not have existed today. They still got invented. I doubt that patenting would increase their rate of invention. I'm sure that patenting would have harmed consumers.
I'm not saying this as a general refutation of patents. I don't know what the correct laws are. I think though that any patent laws are always going to leave us with huge ugly deckfulls of by-catch. Mostly skate & sunfish. But occasionally a walrus, whale or dugong that the crew will not want others to know about.
I have difficulty taking the "prior art" system seriously. It's especially unbelievable with software patents (there are so many things where different patents exists on the same technology), but it leaks over into the whole patent system.
Unless you had a Palm Pilot or a PocketPC. Stopped reading your essay after that.
That was actually much more functional than the iPhone, but harder to use (required a stylus) and in comparison with the iPhone it was ugly.
That Windows Mobile device replaced a Nokia phone and an a Palm V (with internet).
At the same time my colleague on Helpdesk were using Microsoft Tablet PCs running XP to do everything (for two hours).
Not really. It will simply create a new class of startup pitches. "We have this idea. Fund us now and we will return to you with a MVPFP - "Minimally Viable Product For Patent". Big companies of the world will still fund it.
Copyright law prevents direct copying. If someone wanted to make an iphone clone without building on google's effort, they would have to spend hundreds of millions on software deelopment. There is no "simply" when it comes to copying technologies, unless the technology is truly trivial.
You give them far too much credit. Apple happened to be first in implementing an obvious conclusion in the evolution of computing: combining a true operating system with the features of a PDA and adding a radio. Many people saw this coming a decade earlier; I was one of them.
The reason it happened when it did had to do with the hard work of the scientists and engineers who kept shrinking and creating ever more powerful computing technology, not with the guy who happened to allow his engineers to pursue this obvious conclusion. Steve Jobs was a visionary only when compared to other CEO's, not when compared to the scientists and engineers that really make things happen.
Hell, they and much of the "experts" spent the 6 months between announcement and shipping of the iPhone claiming it was going to be a total failure.
So, not only was it not obvious, even after it had been revealed, people claimed that it was a bad idea and would be a failure.
"Why did Google's Android team develop an operating system that resembled a Blackberry"
Irrelevant. The trend toward a more powerful OS as computing resources increased was inevitable. Somebody happened to get there first, and they deserve a pat on the back for winning that race, but they should not get all the credit. People who came before who actually pushed the technology to the limit deserve most of the credit; all Apple did was exploit it at an opportune time.
Your certainty that the innovations brought to the table by the original iPhone were inevitable needs to be justified I'm afraid. Of course it's true that there are many hardware components in all modern smartphones for which the development of which had nothing to do with Apple. However as with the original Mac, to dismiss Apple's contribution is rather to miss the point.
It's as if someone created the most cool looking web page on the planet, and then wanted to claim they invented the Internet. That's how I see Apple. They merely rearranged existing technology in a nifty way, they didn't create all of it. They deserve credit for what they did, not more.
They're claiming that they introduced what has now become the new standard way of interacting with a mobile device, and are seeking to protect aspects of that design from another large corporation that seeks to profit by emulating their work. I'm mystified as to why people find this surprising or worthy of criticism.
Right. But Amazon was wise. They could have seized major portions of the software patent landscape early on, they thought about going down the path Apple is on and they decided against it. In contrast to Cook's statements here, Bezos basically said software patents are not our future and other companies should follow our lead.
If you truly understod the patent system you'd realise it's a lot less "cut and dry" than you perceive it to be. Patent law with all its wonderful intricacies that many spend careers learning can get you to an issued patent. But an issued patent can't guarantee you anything, except the right to sue alleged infringers. It gives you no "right to a monopoly" only a right to sue. It gives you no right to manufacture or sell anything. Someone else might sue you you, regardless of your patent. That's not the patent office's problem.
Your issued patent is only as good as it holds up in litigation. And patent litigation is more or less a crap shoot. With high stakes.
The only way to determine the "validity" of a patent claim is to litigate it. And Federal Circuit decisions are not exactly "consistent" so as to be "predictable", to say the least. The end result is patent litigation is extraordinarily expensive and is to be to be feared, even when the patent claims being asserted are garbage.
The issue is not with the patent system in general. The issue is with how Apple is using the system.
There is nothing inherently wrong with patents or intellectal property.
The problem is with companies like Apple who think it is all some kind of game.
Again, the problem is not IP. IP is just rules.
The problem is Apple, specifically the people who run the company. The problem is the actions they take.
When nerds on the web discuss IP, unfortunately it ends up being employed as the proverbial "straw man". Nerds ignore the actions of Apple and instead debate IP. But IP is not a person, real or imaginary. IP makes no decisions. IP is just a concept. The decisions and the evil being done here are by _people_. Patent law (or any law) does not mandate that anyone has to behave like an a-hole. That is a decision Apple makes, not the drafters of patent laws.
But Apple thinks that just because they can afford to dump millions into legal fees, month after month, year after year, it gives them the justification to make life miserable for everyone else (forcing them to spend the same amounts or be forced out of the game).
Apple behaves like an a-hole. And everyone has to mimic them.
IP is not going to disappear. It's only going to grow. The reforms will have to change how it can be used.
I´m personally quite conflicted in this case:
Apple has a point that Samsung was copying them. Pure copying, not using elements of it and turning it into something new.
On the other side, the ways of protection with patents of tiny bits of it is silly and broken. They are trivial and regard the overall design and should not be allowed.
Famously the Mac itself is based upon the work of Xerox Parc. To the credit of Apple and Steve Jobs they put in a lot of work, made many concepts useable and re-developed the mouse to actually make a consumer product out of it.
For me the morale right or wrong is the following:
make it your own: While heavily using concepts existing prior, you´ll re-combine them into something way better than the thing you copy: That´s ok for me, it has creative value.
copy: You simply dumbly copy things line-by-line without even understanding the basic concepts of why something is great and throw it on the market at a lower prive: That´s wrong and ripping of the creative work of others.
Samsung to me falls quite clearly into the copy category. I doubt that they have a deep understanding of UX design and the subtleties what actually made the iPhone great and delighted the users.
What´s your take on the morals of this?
But yes, Apple had a deal with Xerox
The patent system needs to be fixed globally. Current international trade agreements are going in the wrong direction, driven by the USA negotiators who are ultimately driven by Disney, MPAA and so on.
The rest of te world would dearly like to see US citizens get involved - the TPP is a good place to start.
However, if you could get a software patent in, say, 6 months, then that 5 year window would make a lot more sense.
Make patents unsellable.
I think the answer to that is, yes. Samsung and other companies did copy Apple just about as far as they could without actually creating a counterfeit.
Yet, that didn't stop Apple from making billions of dollars. To me that is proof that in this case the patent system did nothing to foster innovation.
Take the example of pinch to zoom. If Apple knew they couldn't patent the process would they have implemented it? Of course they would have, it's a better interface (and the fact nearly every other smartphone copied it, yet they still created it proves my point).
Furthermore the purpose of the patent system is to encourage innovation by rewarding inventors for not hoarding innovation with trade secrets. Could something like pinch to zoom even realistically be protected by trade secrets.
The implementation is so simple that once someone has seen it, nearly anyone could replicate it.
Patents no longer serve they purpose of disseminating knowledge. Companies aren't digging through the patent office in search of implementation details, the way it was intended to be used.
I'm guessing we'd be viewing the web scrolling up and down on a Blackberry's nipple :D
There were prototypes at many (probably all) mobile vendors exploring the capabilities unlocked by that technology.
Apple "merely" was boldest - but then they hadn't to consider how a new HCI impacts the brand, since they had no old mobile HCI that mattered.
Things might lag half a year or so due to this, but someone, somewhere would have kicked off the "touch revolution" in about the same time without Apple. Maybe even RIM or Nokia.
Funnily, Android/Google was in a similar position as Apple, in about the same time (new market to enter, knowing the old style mobile HCI and touch, having prototypes for both) - and they seemed to prefer the old style for now.
In a world without iPhone they probably would have waited for one of the big guys to introduce touch, and then followed quickly.
Google wasn't as confident about pushing an unproven HCI onto users as Apple was.
Had the iPhone not been introduced I doubt small little details like these would have changed at all, and there are tons of these small subtleties in the current smartphone OSs.
And that's the BS that Apple ignores and that it makes them go forward.
They should consider how shipping crappy products impacts their brand (are you listening Motorola)
There is a reason I don't even look at the prices for Motorola products anymore.
"Funnily, Android/Google was in a similar position as Apple, ... and they seemed to prefer the old style for now."
That's what happens when you only have engineers making decisions.
I've seen two of the pre-iPhone touchscreen OSes without a sliding keyboard or anything like that and they both sucked hard. I owned a LG Prada and knew someone who owned a Samsung F490. They were both terrible, I would've rather had a classic phone than a Prada and my friend who owned the Samsung F490 handed it down to his daughter and replaced it with a classic phone. Lots of people thought that smartphones with touchscreen would behave like the iPhone in its ads except that it was far from the case.
I don't think anyone but Apple could've kicked off the touch revolution. RIM and Nokia ? they only switched course after the iPhone. Nokia's stayed in the comfort zone with Symbian for far too long and didn't have any innovative OS for smartphones and RIM was making candybar, fat and ugly phones with basically just one target audience : people who constantly use email. As long as most people use cases of mobile internet came from email software, RIM wouldn't have felt the need to innovate at all.
The iPhone was really the first touchscreen phone I ever felt comfortable to use. People who made the comparison to the Prada when they were saying that Apple didn't innovate obviously never touched a Prada. It's one of the shittiest phones I've ever used, and phones with keyboards were much better than this. The tactile feel of the touchscreen wasn't good, it lacked precision and the whole interface was programmed in mobile flash. It lacked any advanced feature and couldn't install apps outside of J2ME crap, unlike Windows Mobile. It didn't even have a real web browser.
It's been proven with the new Windows Phones, and new BB os, that you don't need to copy Apple to make good touchscreen OSes. I can understand the anger Apple felt with some Android vendors, and it is true that Samsung even changed the stock Android icons on some of their phones to match more closely the look of the iPhone (WHAT exactly is wrong with the stock android UI ? for god's sake, don't mess with something that already works great).
Samsung is renowned for being copycats, and not just in the mobile phone market. The trial itself revealed that they were targeting Nokia before they changed course to target Apple. But almost all of their electronic division consists of nothing more than being shitty copycats. Their digital cameras aren't anything to brag and Samsung was so late to the DSLR market (mostly hybrids in their case.. uh) that I can't understand why one would ever consider them seriously. Their whole home appliance division consists of nothing but copying other products, they never made anything worth a look.
If I'm not wrong, these were Steve's words to Eric Schmidt - 'I don't want your money, I don't want 5 billion $, I just don't want you to do Android, period'. So the lawsuit is definitely not about money.
But what started as a well presented and valid argument essentially became an unresortfull, self righteous Apple-Bashing that culmulates in "But as proud as you [Tim Cook] are, as disgusted I am. [...] Today, values have won and I hope the whole world listens. Your values have won, mine have lost, [...]"
(This may sound impractical, but it's the approach I'm taking. And, hey, it already worked for discussions involving Microsoft.)
I'd probably give this a "C-" for poor format, unbalanced opinionated writing, and it's length (too long).
In the future, it's fine to pick a side, but make a case and defend it with research. Don't ask a series of questions in response to a memo. Questions are unconvincing at best.
"Should your kids be home before 10PM?" vs "Your kids should be home before 10PM"
Hopefully this helps the author improve their writing. I don't even have a Nokia phone, I have no phone. Maybe we'd be friends.
The details are probably up for a fair debate -- 20 years of loyalty that can be trivially extended by trivial process changes (e.g. Pharma companies) is undesirable.
For the argument that someone else can come up with an idea, that is an interesting point. If you can see how something works, it is not that difficult to reverse engineer it. But, in the true spirit of innovation, the innovators should be thinking about _outdoing_ what they see. Merely copying someone else is not innovation. And, that is the case with so many software features: both genuine and trivial ones are considered equal.
If there's a way to hide the secret sauce, people would easily do that (and that was historically done for so many things like the spices etc). The only way to achieving that in modern day is to (i) manufacture each important component by self and (ii) create a product that can't be taken apart. Imagine an Iphone that can't be un-assembled without destroying it. In this context, patents would speed up innovation (see the development of alternative compression algorithms) by allowing to examine the details of current implementation and improve upon it.
Samsung (and others) have been making un-wieldly phones for decades. I wonder why they decided to make "rectangular phones with rounded corners" after runaway success of iPhone.
And, this comes from someone who hasn't owned an iPhone :-)
Apparently that claim did not get accepted so now they're trying to stop competition from using iNnovation by means of patent-lawsuits for everything else.
 Prior art, they said. Even though it's absolutely indisputable that Apple came up with the iWheel first, and everybody else copied its rounded corners.
"For us this lawsuit has always been about something much more important than patents or money."
It is clear that it can't be about the money because Apple makes 10x the money Samsung does, its all about crushing your enemies using every available tool in your arsenal, no matter what. When Microsoft did that by bundling their own browser into their dominant OS they were convicted of illegally using their market domination to crush competition. I don't think that fate will befall Apple but the ramifications of this on Apple will be far and wide and for the most part uncontrollable.
I expect that everyone reading this today will, in 5 to 10 years be able to look back at today and see all the manifestations of what happened because of it and then see what Apple has wrought. I have no idea if it will be the best or stupidest thing they ever did, but it will define them as a company. I'm strangely reminded of the Tesla / Edison rant for some reason.
Think about it, the company itself is worth 600+ billion dollars.
They did this more out of principal and to defend their products than anything else.
By the way, I have no problem with Apple suing to defend the look and feel that characterize their brand. It's the obvious patents that worry me.
I'm not trying to be snarky here, but what is it that Apple can actually sell me that no one else can?
I'm sorry but you just flipped your own bozo bit.