So we see bizarre and ridiculous patent claims all the time, but this one really seems to go beyond any level of ridiculous, and I can't wait to see how patent system defenders explain this one. A company called NetAirus has sued Apple for patent infringement
over a patent it applied for in 1999 and received in 2006 for a wireless handset communication system
(patent 7,103,380) that is so broad and so generic, it's hard to see how it could possibly have been approved. Patents are supposed to be for specific implementations, not the idea, but if you read through the claims (there are just 14 of them), they seem to all cover very generic concepts that describe putting a mobile phone and a PDA on the same device -- a concept that was widely
discussed in the mid-90s when everyone was using their PalmPilots, and wondering when they'd merge into mobile phones. It's really quite stunning that a patent so broad got approved. Please, patent system defenders, explain how the claims on this patent make sense.
In the meantime, though, this lawsuit really highlights the difference between an idea and execution. Having an idea and getting a patent is pretty meaningless if you don't actually build something. Apple built a product -- and not just the vague product described in the patent: they built something really impressive. Ideas mean little in the long run. Execution is everything. But when we allow companies to patent basic ideas and sue the companies that actually execute? You've set up a market that hinders true innovation.