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. icon
    Mike (profile), 13 Mar 2009 @ 2:04pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    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.

    Yes, and we ragged on them for doing so (what happened to us siding with the winners always?). But, my point was that unlike others, Apple does NOT have a history of SUING very often over patent infringement charges. That's what I meant by being aggressive. I'm sorry if that wasn't clear, but, frankly, given your comments, I think you know quite well that it was clear.

    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 ?.

    There are a bunch of different writers for the site, and about a dozen employees here...

    actually you always do - as one poster has already commented your criticism of Apple s watered down to meaninglessness

    I disagree. I fail to see how it was meaningless at all. I made the point pretty clear, but it's obvious in your rush to toss out an insult without any factual basis that you were going to ignore that.

    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).

    Honestly? You're clearly reading a different site. I'm pretty clear in my widespread criticism of both Apple and Microsoft, both of whom are companies I think are doing a lot of very dumb things. I've never shied away from criticizing either one.

    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.

    Huh? I'm not saying it's ok if Apple does it. I'm saying it's equally reprehensible. I'm very troubled by the fact that Apple did this, but the point of this post was to focus on the mess created by standards and patents for everyone.

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