And With Those 200 iPhone Patents Come The Inevitable Patent Disputes

from the nuclear-standoff dept

We've spent a fair amount of time discussing Apple's decision to hype up the 200 patents it supposedly holds on technologies included in the upcoming iPhone. Initially, we wondered why they actually needed such patents -- as it was hardly a protective measure. Try as they might, no other company is going to easily come up with a phone that has nearly the same brand factor that Apple can muster up from its fans. Furthermore, it's been pretty clear that most of the "new" features seen the iPhone aren't really that new. About the only explanation we heard that made sense for hyping the patents was to make up for the bad deal the company signed with Cingular, which will limit the distribution of the iPhone initially.

However, a second reason is becoming clear -- and it's (unfortunately) one of the most popular reasons for getting (and hyping) patents these days: nuclear stockpiling. That is, you want to have all these patents to hopefully ward off others with patents who will want to take a bite out of your success should your technology go anywhere. Already, we've seen claims from LG that Apple was copying an LG phone with its iPhone design. The latest, pointed out by Engadget is that Quantum Research, who has already sued Apple over the click wheel on the iPod is gearing up to sue over the touch screen interface, which it claims to hold patents on. "The description of the iPhone suggests it uses a rear-surface touch screen, and has proximity sensing which can tell if it is held to the ear. That's a QR capability." So now Apple can saber rattle back with its collection of 200 patents against anyone who claims infringement on it -- and then hope that the threat of all out nuclear patent war leads the two sides to come to an "agreement." It's not efficient. It's not good for innovation or progress... but it's how the system works, and it's why so many patent attorneys don't want it to change.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Andrew, Feb 21st, 2007 @ 11:08am

    The system works for two groups

    The patent system works for two groups. The first group is "the establishment" of players who each hold several key patents that are required to be part of the game. Only someone with key patents is able to be part of the club, because they can use them to halt the business of any of the others. Everyone else is kept out. The second group are "IP trolls" who play a different game - halting businesses who play the game above. Since they don't need the key patents to play their game, the establishment can't block them. Neither of these groups are interested in progress.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Sea Man, Feb 21st, 2007 @ 12:34pm

    correction

    "to hopefully ward off..."

    FIRST!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Karl, Feb 21st, 2007 @ 12:40pm

    Re: correction

    nice contribution to any conversation about this article.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    ScaredOfTheMan, Feb 21st, 2007 @ 12:44pm

    Imagine a world without patents?

    would we really stop innovating?

    Why does humans invent, for money or because we have a curious and progressive nature.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Bill, Feb 21st, 2007 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: correction

    A really good contribution to the discussion of this article! Thanks Karl!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Ty, Feb 21st, 2007 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: correction

    Hey, You too Bill! Keep it up!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    cawwot, Feb 21st, 2007 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: correction

    Wow, these are meaningful posts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Luke, Feb 21st, 2007 @ 1:08pm

    Penguins

    I know that I innovate/change anything that I'm doing when I perceive that I'll have to do less work after I've made the change. Or at least apply the same amount of work but seem to have to apply less effort.

    Basically the lazy factor is the only reason I can see good inovation (the TV remote, the internet [porn comes straight to me now], microwave oven [yummy quick heated food], cars, searching for inane patents [Yay! Google!].)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Russ, Feb 21st, 2007 @ 2:18pm

    False Logic

    MAD only works where the other side has something to lose. It works for Sony, MS, HP and IBM.

    For patent trolls, they have no products, therefore can't get counter sued.

    Sooner or later big business will realize this and change their approach. a few more NTP settlements and the true cost of the patent system will become evident. Now it is buried in overhead.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Search Engines Web, Feb 21st, 2007 @ 8:47pm

    BREAKING: Cisco & Apple Settle iPhone Lawsuit

    hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/C/CISCO_APPLE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT
    The companies said Apple will be allowed to use the name for its sleek new multimedia device in exchange for exploring wide-ranging "interoperability" between the companies' products in the areas of security, consumer and business communications

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Search Engines Web, Feb 21st, 2007 @ 8:49pm

    BREAKING: Cisco & Apple Settle iPhone Lawsuit

    The companies said Apple will be allowed to use the name for its sleek new multimedia device in exchange for exploring wide-ranging "interoperability" between the companies' products in the areas of security, consumer and business communications
    hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/C/CISCO_APPLE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DE FAULT

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    michael, Mar 11th, 2007 @ 11:05pm

    The iPhone is an Entirely Different Revolution

    I like the iPhone multi-touch technology for easy navigation. This will be the next PDA generation.

    I will buy the iPhone.

    Get iPhone Converter

    http://www.iphoneconverter.com/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 5:32am

    Re:

    ur grammar sucks

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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