Patents do not encourage innovation, they smother it.
If there were no patents, the iPhone would have never been built, because Nokia would have kept this IP as trade secret, or not developed it at all. For companies, patents increase the value of R&D investments by orders of magnitude, and without them, most current R&D spending would be impossible to justify to shareholders. If there were no patents, Apple would have no financial incentive (and that's the only incentive public companies have) to invest so heavily in all of the technologies in the iPhone, as they could easily be copied by others.
The world isn't as simple as "competition always yields innovation". Giving companies limited time monopolies on their discoveries (by definition, limiting competition) increases the amount of R&D they do. This was understood hundreds of years go, even before the Copyright Clause was debated, and still holds true:
I'm not saying that the spirit of this holds true here, or in every patent case. I'm saying that responding "ugh! patents suuuck!" is too simplistic of a world view.
knee-jerk? ROFL... talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Have you ever actually read a software patent? I have yet to find one which is educational, which is (as you point out) the basis of granting exclusivity for disclosure. The complex and abstract style used to write many of them makes them basically useless. Even those that are readable are often obvious to those "having ordinary skill in the art". They were granted because the USPTO is over burdened and innovation happens quickly in the industry, but once they have been granted, simple prior art is no longer sufficient to invalidate them.
Patents on software are basically patents on math. I'm all for copyright protection on software, but patent protection is stifling the industry.
Patents on software are basically patents on math
How, exactly, is that, in a way that patents on anything else aren't "basically math"? More importantly, do you think Nokia would ever have spent $60B on R&D if they got no patent rights for it?
I'm all for copyright protection on software
How is that even remotely, marginally related?
When people say "patents" on Hacker News, you should assume that they mean software patents. Maybe business method patents on rare occasion.
How, exactly, is that, in a way that patents on anything else aren't "basically math"?
A sewing machine is not "basically math". A stapler that doesn't use staples is not "basically math". But more importantly, "a scientific truth, or the mathematical expression of it, is not a patentable invention." (Mackay Radio & Telegraph Co. v. Radio Corp. of America, 306 U.S. 86, 40 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 199 (1939)).
More importantly, do you think Nokia would ever have spent $60B on R&D if they got no patent rights for it?
Yes, of course they would, thats the business they are in. They made $76.22B revenue in 2008.
The tools of our industry are already sufficiently protected to encourage investment, research, and development. Mechanisms are easy to invent are often invented independently, and patents interfere with this.
a scientific truth, or the mathematical expression of it, is not a patentable invention
The mathematical expression of a scientific truth is not just math, it's an observation of our reality. Algorithms ("just math") can be implemented in hardware or software, and can operate on paper or bits. Those are patentable.
Yes, of course they would [have spent $60B on R&D if they got no patent rights for it], thats the business they are in. They made $76.22B revenue in 2008.
Would they still have made $76.22B if their competitors could use their discoveries freely?
This is silly. I'm not sure what you're arguing against - I'm claiming that there is a good reason for patents, both hardware and software (same reason - to encourage innovation) that shouldn't be ignored when talking about patents. You're saying you agree for hardware patents, but not software patents, but have yet to explain the difference between the two, aside from calling one of them "just math".
No financial incentive other than, you know, a need to compete in order to sell their product? It's not as if you can just photocopy a phone and wind up with the software written and hardware designs necessary to reproduce it -- and if you can, how novel are the ideas?
It's disingenuous to state that Apple relied on Nokia's IP (that they would have otherwise kept trade secret), especially given that it's almost certain that Apple engineers ignored existing patents as much as possible when developing the iPhone to avoid additional liability.
There are many ways to compete and sell products. Investing as much money as Apple does into R&D is only financially reasonable with government guaranteed monopolies in place. Do you seriously have any doubt that Apple would spend less money on R&D if they weren't able to patent their discoveries? Would any of their products be possible without such extensive R&D spending?
Unless there is any truth in the "we got our patents into industry standards which Apple supports" line from the article.
I think this was a public good as long as companies--Nokia and Apple are both examples of this--used their R&D to produce goods and services for the marketplace. Under the circumstances, there may be some merit to Nokia demanding licensing fees.
My guess is that there is some back-room stare-down taking place. Perhaps Apple feels that Nokia should cross-license some of Apple's patents. Perhaps Apple is threatening to invalidate some of Nokia's patents. It will be interesting to see this play out. I hope Nokia doesn't devolve into a shell company trolling for license fees :-)
I would imagine that the iPhone still would have been built and would have been nearly as good, even if those patents did not exist.
Except that the actual complaint states that Nokia offered to license Apple the patents and Apple declined multiple times.
This is also possibly a reason why Nokia have waited to sue - they have been spending the time trying to get Apple to license them out of court.
Need more details on this, but Nokia is a respected company, I rather doubt they've decided to take up patent trollery just to see what they can scam out of Apple.
"Earlier this month, Nokia posted its first quarterly loss in a decade amid falling sales."
And that in the same month where Apple has a record quarter.
If you can't beat 'em, sue 'em.
It could be that they legitimately spent time and money researching technology, only to have it brazenly ripped off by Apple, and they just realized it right now. Starting legal proceedings against a big company like Apple isn't something you do between lunch and your afternoon cup of coffee, after all.
(But actually, I made the same inference, and I think it's right. I am just pointing out how carefully-picked "facts" can lead you to believe something that you imagined is a fact.)
Referenced from http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=897380
So, what happens when one company sues other over patents, and the other has interesting patent portfolio? They settle it and each gets to use some new tech (without fear of similar lawsuit in the future).
> "[...] those companies who contribute in technology development to establish standards create intellectual property, which others then need to compensate for," said Ilkka Rahnasto, vice president of Legal & Intellectual Property at Nokia. "Apple is also expected to follow this principle."
So, I think it's not Nokia being evil and suing the disruptive underdog to keep its profits. It's just a (start of) business exchange.
(Disclaimer: IANAL and I own a Nokia phone, so :)