Overhype

by Carlo Longino


Filed Under:
iphone, multi-touch, patents, pre

Companies:
apple, palm



Analyst Says What We Already Knew: Apple's Multi-Touch Patent Fight Won't Help Its Business

from the in-case-you-didn't-get-it-yet dept

After Palm showed off its new Pre smartphone, including the device's multitouch interface, at the Consumer Electronics Show last month, Apple made some threatening noises about how it would go after anybody who "ripped off" its intellectual property. As always, we didn't see how this would benefit anybody in the marketplace, since competition pays benefits to consumers, and drives participants, even Apple, to continually innovate and improve their products. Now, a wireless industry analyst has called Apple's threats into question. He makes the point that a long, drawn out IP fight won't help Apple's business in the long run: "Building on the company's legacy as one of the greatest innovators in the technology industry may be a smarter business model than taking on the rest of the industry in a battle that may be impossible to win."

His reasoning is twofold: first and most obviously, Apple stands to gain more by competing in the market than competing in the courts. Second, he says that if Apple went ahead with patent suits, it may not be able to win them. He says that it appears that much of Apple's multitouch IP portfolio is based on work from a couple of its employees -- who also were granted a number of multitouch patents while they were employed by the University of Delaware. The University holds those patents, while the analyst also found a lot of potential prior art he says could threaten the Apple patents' validity if they're reviewed. So if Apple realizes the patents may not stand up to a review, it could explain the bluster; but once it's clear the threats are empty, they hold no value. The question now seems to be how long Apple will try to play out the show, and how many resources it will throw at it that would be better spent on developing its products.

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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 3 Feb 2009 @ 6:25pm

    Re:

    Geeze. Patents give the patent holders monopolies in IP they invent. Consequently, patents incentivize inventors to innovate.

    I think you've got the story a little mixed up there. It's not a "consequence" of the monopoly that anyone has an incentive to innovate -- and repeated studies have shown the opposite. Those monopolies actually significantly decrease and limit the incentive to innovate, because it allows an *inventor* to block anyone else from innovating, decreasing competition, and removing the main incentive for innovation.

    but I'm beginning to wonder if TechDirt would EVER find it appropriate for an IP owner to claim infringement.

    We're waiting to see a case where the "progress of science and the useful arts" is actually promoted. Would be great to find one.

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