Apple Withholds Patent From Widget Standard

from the patents-and-standards dept

The idea of standardization around certain technologies makes some amount of sense. Once a standard is set at a lower level, it opens up plenty of innovation opportunities above that standard. However, in the past few years, we've seen a pretty massive problem with the combination of standards and patents. Basically, everyone starts looking for ways to somehow connect a patent to a standard -- but they often try to hide the details so that, once the standard is set, they can start demanding everyone pay up for patent infringement. This is even more likely when companies come up with an agreement to pool patents in a royalty-free manner for the sake of the patent. Companies try to keep their patents out so they can later demand money. It's way too common these days. The latest to do this appears to be Apple, who withheld a key patent on technology for online "widgets", which has recently been standardized. The standard was set by the W3C, who asked for companies to commit their patents royalty-free in order to move the standard forward so that everyone could benefit. Instead, Apple held out a key patent, and can now start demanding people pay up. On the whole, Apple hasn't been that aggressive in enforcing its patents, and hopefully that doesn't change now -- but it does show once again how important patents have become in the standards setting process, and how much trouble they can cause.
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Filed Under: patents, standards, widgets
Companies: apple

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2009 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re:

    "...but it certainly has not been nearly as aggressive as many other companies."
    When Apple launched the iPhone it also made sure to point out how many patents covered it. Even a hurrying moron coudn't miss that message, and even if you did the treatment of potential competitors should clarify things for you.

    "...and who the hell are "the Masnicks"?" I've no idea but most of your articles these days include a pretty narrow specification of whatever it is that "we" think - how would you like to identify this group ?.

    "I've never shied away from giving my opinion -- good or bad.." actually you always do - as one poster has already commented your criticism of Apple s watered down to meaninglessness, but you don't wimp out on you criticisms of those you think are failing,or on your attitude towards those who criticize the successful (such as Apple and Microsoft).

    The main premise of you original article is very silly - you basically say that withholding patents on key technology for standards is reprehensible, if it's Apple doing it it probably OK. But, obviously, facts aren't your strong suit.

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