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The examples you mention for 3M and Corning are valid patent reasons. If a company is going to productize their invention, they should have some protection. They are encouraged to innovate because of the patent process. The same does not apply to Apple and Google.

Additionally, Corning sold off the Corningware brand to a non-research focused company. They've pivoted again, and their research (and relationships with Apple and Google) have allowed them to continue to be successful.

Which I suspect is doing Corning some brand damage. Pyrex(TM) used to be really tough low-expansion borosilicate glass, or perhaps properly tempered soda-lime glass, truly great stuff. Now outside of Europe and lab glassware it's non-tempered generic soda-lime glass, which is injuring quite a few people: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2008/08/pyrex.html

Wow! Thanks for that link!

I have no problem with Apple or any other IT company pursuing hardware patents. But I think software patents are BS.

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