Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 3rd Mar 2010 16:36 UTC
Legal Today's "the day after". The day after Apple started a patent war with HTC and Google. Today, we have statements from both HTC and Google, and a number of other people have weighed in as well as to the possible ramifications of Apple's lawsuit.
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RE[3]: Which history?
by elsewhere on Thu 4th Mar 2010 08:25 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Which history?"
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I think you, especially, are missing the point. The issue here isn't fear, its innovation. Years ago, you navigated "smart phones" with jog wheels, plastic sticks, up down buttons. Apple comes along and spends millions in R&D and releases a product that says, look you guys missed this all along, look how simple you could have made it. And they were rewarded for it via sales.

This is called first-to-market. Apple implemented touch in a way none of their competitors had thought of, they were rewarded for that with stratospheric sales, at the expense of their competitors. And there's nothing wrong with that, it's the way the market is supposed to work.

For Apple to say, hey, we thought of this first (which they didn't, since multi-touch interfaces have existed for decades, and pinch-to-zoom was demonstrated by a non-Apple researcher back when Macs were still cute little beige boxes with a monochrome screen), and then call out the lawyers to prevent anyone else from implementing and improving upon it, is not the way the market is supposed to work.

When companies introduce something something new and innovative, they earn the ability to profit from it. The product life-cycle model will reward them for being an early innovator, but success will eventually lead to commoditization, where other competitors can produce something similar without having invested the R&D to develop it, leading to diminishing returns for the original company. To compensate, the original company should be re-investing their initial windfall of profit into developing the next shiny new thing, so they can maintain their momentum and start the cycle over again with the next best new thing. That's the way the market is supposed to work. Companies innovate, others compete, companies are forced to invest in continual innovation to remain ahead, and consumers ultimately prosper.

When companies try to subvert this model by calling in the lawyers to try and block competitors from competing, it's a tacit admission that they are either not convinced they can maintain their lead with further development, or they simply want to block the commoditization model and protect their profits. Either way, innovation and the market suffer.

Patents exist for the sole reason of encouraging the sharing of new inventions. Patent rights were intended to encourage the creation of inventions, safe in the knowledge the inventor could negotiate terms for "rights" to their invention. The intent was for inventors to publish their creations so that others could benefit, while protecting the rights of the original inventor. They were intended to spur innovation, not block it, despite the abuse they frequently suffer.

So "competition" comes now and everyone, all of a sudden are debuting touch screen gesture based phones. Don't try to pop the obvious argument here, cuz if it was so obvious, why didn't RIM, Palm, MS do it before Apple? What you are saying is, you want tech on your terms and you could give a damn about anything else. Apple spends millions in shareholder money building this thing and should let competitors use their invention against them?

Technology doesn't exist in a bubble. Every advancement is built upon the work of others. That's the way it is supposed to work.

You ridicule the market that existed before Apple entered the fray, while ignoring the fact that Apple built their product on the years of investment and expertise that other companies have contributed. Apple created a clever user interface, but their platform is still driven by the work of other companies. Companies like Nokia, Qualcomm, Motorola, Erickson et al. invested billions in developing GSM tech. They, along with other groups like ARM, pioneered power/performance ratio technology. Bluetooth was created. Nokia drove camera tech to handsets and created the concept of a multimedia phone. RIM created the concept of a handset as being an extension of the desktop in terms of messaging and management. The list goes on.

Apple comes along, uses all of that collective foundation to build a handset, and you claim that they are somehow elevated to a higher level by virtue of an evolutionary improvement in interface? The iPhone wouldn't exist today without the billions of dollars and years of effort from Apple's competitors. And there's nothing wrong with that, it's the way the market is supposed to work. Apple saw an opportunity and seized it, as they are often effectively able to do.

Apple is entirely dependent upon the work of others. Their entire business is built around polishing and implementing existing concepts better than anyone else.
And again, there is nothing wrong with that.

However, their dependency on the work of others could very well come back to bite them in the iAss now, because they are sending a message to the other established players in the industry that they are drawing a line in the sand with regards to their software patents. There's two big problems with that; first, software patents in general are shady with no certainty that they will be upheld, and second, they are useless outside of the US, as opposed to many of the patents Apple's competitors hold.

Apple excels in user experience design, and as such should expect to be emulated. There is absolutely nothing in the iPhone that isn't built on previous ideas and work, it's just put together better than most have been able to accomplish. That warrants a market advantage, but not a legally enforceable one.

The other issue is Google. Google sat on Apple's board and innovated from the board room. What Schmidt did is tantamount to corporate espionage. You dont sit on a companies board, setup sharing agreements to suit yourself and then take what you have learned and compete against the company you were responsible for helping guide. From encouraging Webkit to be open sourced and then using it for the basis of Chrome and saying look how much faster we are than them, when you are on the board of "them"? WTF? Google, do no evil? Really?

First of all, Webkit was open source to begin with, Apple had no choice due to the licensing of the KHTML base they utilized.

As for corporate espionage, that's a far bit of a stretch. Schmidt didn't sit there rubbing his hands, twidling his non-existant moustach, and plot Apple's destruction. Many companies have directors that are from other organizations within the same industry.

Schmidt didn't undermine Apple, and he stepped down when he realized that Apple was moving in a direction that was no longer complementary to Google. Android and Chrome don't exist to compete monetarily with Apple, they exist to try and block Apple's strategy to absolutely control user experience with the internet. He probably stayed on the board longer than he should have, but he was there because of his previous relationship through Sun, and because the shareholders were happy enough to keep him there.

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