Why the Apple patent victory is bad news...

Last week, a US court decided that Samsung copied Apple with their Galaxy range of smartphones and tablets - and it's right that they should probably be penalised in some way, the problem is the US court decision has now added a massive weight to the current flawed patent system; something that will hugely stifle innovation. You see, the problem with the way patents current work is they allow the companies with lots of money to 'own' the right to something that is based entirely on human nature.

There DOES need to be some protection for those who invest lots of cash into developing solutions to complex problems - you don't want a situation that will see someone else come along and steal all of their work with none of the investment. However at the same time, there needs to be some kind of sense check when granting patents. Not only does it put small companies and individuals at risk of stealing patents unknowingly, it also puts a dampener on real innovation and forces providers to 'innovate' un-intuitive ways of getting around the patent issues creating needlessly complicated end products.

Millions are spent defending and protecting patents that could be spent on creating even better software and hardware. If Samsung end up paying over $1 billion to Apple (a company that is already the most profitable and 'valuable' than any other that has ever existed) it can only lead to the consumers eventually losing out; either through higher priced products or through less functional technology.

Patents in recent years have covered things such as changing the colour of an LED based on a status, tap to zoom and even certain methods of unlocking phones. These things shouldn't be patentable - they are so widely used both currently and in the past that granting the patent to just one company is nonsensical in the extreme. Yes, allow patenting of the results of building all of these things into one complex product, but unless they're truly innovative we shouldn't be restricting the use of these small LEGO bricks of ideas and concepts.

Have Apple lost a billion dollars thanks to Samsung copying the design of the iPhone? Of course they haven't. Did Joel Tennenbaum's sharing of 30 (yes a couple of albums worth of tracks) on Kazaa cost the record industry in American $675,000? Did it fuck. Fines for these kind of case NEED to be proportional to the effect on the victim otherwise we end up ruining lives as a matter of principle and that is a VERY bad thing. These cases may be two different things, but they both highlight how rulings such as these are out of touch with reality...

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