Would We Prefer HTC To Be Making Cool New Products? Or Just Getting More Patents

from the state-of-the-times dept

HTC has, quite rightly, decried the insanity of the patent thicket in the smartphone arena. In fact, some clueless analyst had written a note suggesting that HTC was at risk because it didn’t have enough patents. The idea that quantity of patents matters is a really scary thought, but with the way the patent system works today, companies who have no desire to own patents are increasingly being pressured into doing so. Thus, HTC has been in the process of getting its hands on as many patents as possible, both by ramping up its own patent application filings, and by buying others patents (such as via the purchase of S3).

As someone who has used a bunch of HTC phones over the years, all of this is pretty depressing. I’d much rather the company focus on doing what it does best: building cool smartphones and devices. While our broken system may be forcing it to invest in patents (and patent litigation), wouldn’t we all be better served by letting it (and others) focus on building cool products to compete in the marketplace? Or is that just too old fashioned an idea?

Filed Under: ,
Companies: htc

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Would We Prefer HTC To Be Making Cool New Products? Or Just Getting More Patents”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Nrbl says:

HTC wanted a free ride

Ways to make “cool products” –
1) Innovate – HTC & innovate? – LOL! They’re a dumb manufacturer.
2) Get a benevolent sponsor like Google – HTC adopted Android
3) Pay & license someone else’s cool stuff – HTC licensed Windows Phone from Microsoft

Any company which does 1 will get high margins. Companies in 2 & 3 will eventually become low margin companies.

However, they didn’t anticipate the hidden costs of Android – litigation, patents etc. Of course, some of the patents being used against Android are ridiculous.

But, you can’t question the fact that to innovate, you need to invest significant money & resources – which HTC didn’t do!

TechnoMage (profile) says:

My HTC Dream (the first Android Phone, aka G1)

And every HTC phone I’ve used has been built solid and worked well. That is what they need to focus on. and to the above commenter… HTC had to make the drivers, the hardware, and balance all the power needs, etc… of the G1 (let alone every phone after that). Look at the list of HTC vs other Devices supported by Cyanogenmod… That requires in and of itself well made products (to get people to donate their time and effort to work on custom ROMS, and quality hardware/software/drivers that can be used in other ROMS effectively)

Personally I just hope the DoD/Fed. Gov’t steps in (like they did with airplane technology/patents after WW1) and basically makes patents in the mobile sphere unenforceable (for national defense purposes)… Heck… There was an article out a while ago saying that some custom hardened(security) Android device was able to launch nuclear weapons… I would wager that it was based off some commercially available device & all of its patents.

My G1 still works today (even has a 15 min max battery, lol)… despite the plastic case looking like it went through WW2.

I installed Cyanogenmod after my 2yr warranty was up, and That allowed me to use my phone for a total of 3~4 years easily. (keeping up to date software wise)(not hardware wise…obviously)

I can honestly say that the G1 had MUCH better drivers than my current Samsung Intercept (yes I know.. POS phone, but I work on top of the line Android devices all day….. So I just have this for phone calls and nothing else) And in the long run it matters which device manufacture has the best drivers (because that has an effect on performance, stability, battery usage, etc) just as much as any other aspect of a hand held.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Re:

if you sue and loose you pay the other sides legal fees.

That would just lead to even more non-disclosure settlements for millions of dollars – funneling more and more money to the trolls so they can buy more bogus patents and encourage more companies to settle…

Nuke the patent system from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Into the Commodity Zone.

What is happening, fundamentally, is that smart-phones and similar hand-held computers are moving into the zone of diminishing returns, just as desktop and laptop computers did before them. Any task which is highly visual competes for attention with physical navigation, with seeing where you are going. That means that tasks like reading, writing, programming, mathematics, painting and drawing, movie-watching, and video-game-playing tend to require enough visual attention that one has to sit down to do them, and one is likely to need quiet surroundings. Most of the “apps” which appear on smart-phones are little more than alternative links to websites. There are only a handful of distinctive smart-phone “apps,” which actually take advantage of the user’s mobility.

Smart cellphones are becoming commodities, just as desktop computers did before them. When these little computers first emerged, it must be about twenty years ago, when they were known as “personal digital assistants,” I recall thinking that they were very dull. The single most obvious application was store-keeping, walking through ranges of shelves in a warehouse or a store, scanning the bar-codes, and doing related things. Store-keeping wasn’t anything I had any great desire to do. Nowadays, there are smart-phone apps which you can point at a bar-code, and be told that there is a better deal on the internet. So why not drop to the bottom line, and not visit the store in the first place?

As it developed, the single most successful application of smart cellphones was as a better jukebox, to play recorded music. Listening to music does not conflict with the visual sense. All right, so everyone has a jukebox now. What do you do for an encore?

About the only kind of new smart-phone applications which really stand up are those which get to the heart of mobility, those designed for facilitating travel, applications which will provide you with a moving map, or call you a taxicab or limousine, or make you a reservation on a train, or guide you to catching the right bus or subway within an urban transit system, or something like that. At a higher level, the system can point out a place to eat, or make a motel reservation, things which fit within the framework of travel.

Patents are coming out of this “existential crisis.” They are a sign of panic. Many years ago, IBM’s reaction to the personal computer was to start compulsively collecting patents. But of course the patents didn’t reach personal computer for the most part. Personal computers were a case of “ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny,” with the manufacturers selling a type of computer which was about twenty or thirty years out of date by mainframe standards, only much smaller and cheaper.

Most patents relating to cellphones are not going to stand up to re-examination. The Supreme Court has made it plain that reciting standard underlying capabilities (“…on a computer,” “…on the internet,” “…using a portable device,” “..via a wireless connection,” etc.) do not create un-obviousness, and when those are stripped away, there is always prior art on the remaining portion of the patent. People did these tasks before there were computers. The pursuit of patents is ultimately the pursuit of trash. The money could be better spent on invalidating the patents of rivals.

Cory of PC (profile) says:

Recently I’ve beginning to think about getting three different patents for not me but for the Internet to, hopefully, combat these patent trolls. One patent will be based around suing about patents, another will cover copyrights, and the last will cover trademarks. That way when a company sues for one, two or all three complaints, we could swoop in, sue them for infringing on our patents!

Plus it’ll give them a taste of their own medicine… that is if anyone hasn’t taken a patent on this (or this is entirely too stupid to work with).

John (profile) says:

Stupid Consumers

As long as there are consumers stupid enough to support companies like Apple by buying their products the ridiculous patent wars will continue.
The sad fact is that consumers today are to selfish and lazy to say “I will not buy your product because I don’t like the way you do business”.
They want their toys and don’t care about the business practices behind them until it affects them, then they are the first to bitch and complain.

William Tang says:

Depressing but necessary

Although I would agree that it is depressing, I think that it is essential due to the way that Apple is acting towards them. If HTC doesnt do something, it cannot move forward. Since HTC is a much smaller company than for example, Samsung. HTC cannot afford to be sued by apple for 40 over patents which would be literally impossible as if HTC was going to be bankrupt.
I used to appreciate Apple, but after this sucky Tim Cook became the CEO, the new products look the same and feel the same, and they want to sue other companies due to the fact that their products might not be selling well as Android. What sore losers Apple are today

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Quantity over Quality

Isn’t it crazy how “number of patents” has replaced “relevant patents” the more the patent wars rage on?

What’s going on is that all the major players have portfolios with thousands of patents, so it is almost an impossible task to actually know what all the claims are, when they are relevant, the quality of each claim, etc. But since we know they are all (deliberately) vaguely worded, we can assume that for any hundred patents, maybe one will have a claim that can attack a competitor.

So, it’s much easier just to do a ballpark count of total patents. The count is only ‘somewhat’ useful, but it is actually easily done, whereas an actual detailed evaluation is nigh impossible.

Isn’t this, essentially, a methodology based on the core principle of the “patent thicket”? We’ve reduced patent portfolios down to “How thick is your thicket?” Haven’t we achieved ‘reductio ad absurdum’ yet?

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Older Stuff
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Monitor Everything (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Cool Components (1)
12:42 Tech Companies Ask European Commission Not To Wreck The Internet -- And You Can Too (4)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Play & Listen (1)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Beyond Chiptunes (12)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Updated Classics (3)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Celebrating Cities (1)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Crafts Of All Kinds (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: One Great Knob (13)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Simple Geeky Toys (2)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Gadgets For The New Year (18)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: A Post-Holiday Grab Bag (0)
13:34 How Private-Sector Innovation Can Help Those Most In Need (21)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Towards The Future Of Drones (17)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Artisanal Handheld Games (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: A New Approach To Smartphone VR (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Let's Bore The Censors (37)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Open Source For Your Brain (2)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: The Final Piece Of The VR Puzzle? (6)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: The Internet... Who Needs It? (15)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: The Light Non-Switch (18)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: 3D Printing And Way, Way More (7)
13:00 Techdirt Reading List: Learning By Doing (5)
12:43 The Stagnation Of eBooks Due To Closed Platforms And DRM (89)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: A Modular Phone For Makers (5)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Everything On One Display (4)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Everything Is Still A Remix (13)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Great Desk Toy, Or Greatest Desk Toy? (6)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: Sleep Hacking (12)
09:00 Awesome Stuff: A Voice-Operated Household Assistant (19)
More arrow