Patents and Copyright out of control

The patent and copyright system which ostensibly was created to promote innovation has turned into a giant out of control monster, which limits choice, drives up costs, hampers innovation, favors organizations which are already powerful and well entrenched over the little guy, and helps lawyers and patent trolls exploit the system like a parasite.  It exists and get worse because powerful interests like the rentier system it promotes and reduces competition.  Consumers should be up in arms.  Hopefully the latest case between Apple and Samsung will highlight this problem.  If Samsung cannot sell the SIII in the US that will only restrict choice, and drive up costs.  Of course many people are perfectly happy to live in the gilded Apple prison under the dickat of their overlords, but I am not.

This from eff.org

August 27, 2012 | By Julie Samuels

Apple v. Samsung: What Does a $1 Billion Verdict Really Mean?

We wrote last week that Apple and Samsung would be better off — and their consumers would be better served — if the tech giants took their epic patent battle out of the courtroom and into the marketplace. On Friday, the jury found that Samsung infringed a host of Apple’s patents and awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages. That’s more than a billion less than Apple had demanded and a small drop for Samsung in the grand scheme of things. But it’s real money nonetheless, and that’s before the injunctions.

The way the press reported the verdict, one would think the outcome was unexpected or unusual. But really, this case is just the latest in a long line of high-stakes patent litigation, each an instance of a patent system fundamentally unmoored from its constitutional goal. Sure, this case had some interesting elements: patents allegedly covering 3G technology, Apple’s ability to protect the functional designs of its products, and so on. In that regard, Apple v. Samsung is nothing new.

Since Friday, there has been no shortage of news and commentary surrounding the jury’s verdict. So what’s left to say? We can talk about whether a user interface should be covered by a patent (it should not), whether the law should protect the “look and feel” of a product (again, it should not, whether under patent or copyright law), or Apple’s own storied history of finding inspiration from those who came before (just a different way of saying “copying”). But what it comes down to is simple: it is time for this to stop.

The Constitution is clear on why the government grants monopolies: to “promote the progress of science and the useful arts.” Apple would have released the iPhone without a patent covering the rounded edges of its devices or the “rubber band” effect — the way a screen bounces when you scroll to the bottom. These patents, and the resulting lawsuits, do not promote the progress of science and the useful arts. They do not benefit the consumer. Instead, they are just another tool that businesses use to squelch competition and extract money from each other. The answer to competition is, or should be, more innovation, not courtroom battles that cost millions upon millions of dollars and drain judicial resources.

Apple v. Samsung demonstrates so much of what ails our patent system. But it’s not all bad. This case made big news; people are paying attention. Now is the time to talk about the many ways that software patents hinder innovation instead of helping it. It is the time to talk about the public interest and how taking Galaxy products off the market would harm consumers. It is the time to talk about how we can find a system that makes sense for how people use, create, and develop software. We are having these conversations at defendinnovation.org and hope you will join us. The system must be fixed. Let’s make it happen.

And this from Yahoo News.

Samsung: Apple trying to limit consumer choice

Associated PressBy YOUKYUNG LEE | Associated Press – 5 hours ago

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  • People walk by the entrance to the Samsung Electronics Co. showroom at its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. The Tokyo District Court on Friday dismissed Apple Inc.'s claim that Samsung had infringed on its patent - the latest ruling in the global legal battle over smartphones that pits the two technology titans against each other. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)View PhotoPeople walk by the entrance to the Samsung Electronics Co. showroom at its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. The Tokyo District Court on Friday dismissed Apple Inc.’s claim that Samsung had infringed on its patent – the latest ruling in the global legal battle over smartphones that pits the two technology titans against each other. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
  • A man uses a cell phone as he stands in front of a display of the new Samsung Galaxy Note II smart phone during a media preview at the Samsung stand at the IFA consumer electric fair in Berlin, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)View PhotoA man uses a cell phone as he stands in front of a display of the new Samsung Galaxy Note II smart phone during a media preview at the Samsung stand at the IFA consumer electric fair in Berlin, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
  • A boy checks an iPhone at an Apple booth at an electronic store in Tokyo Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. A Tokyo court has ruled that Samsung did not infringe on an Apple patent, in the latest development in the legal battle between the two technology titans. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)View PhotoA boy checks an iPhone at an Apple booth at an electronic store in Tokyo Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. A Tokyo court has ruled that Samsung did not infringe on an Apple patent, in the latest development in the legal battle between the two technology titans. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung on Saturday accused Apple of resorting to litigation in an effort to limit consumer choice after the iPhone maker said it was seeking to stop the sale of Galaxy S III smartphones in the United States.

Fresh from its $1 billion court victory over Samsung Electronics Co, Apple Inc., in a separate case, asked a federal district court in San Jose, California, on Friday to add four more products to a list of Samsung goods that Apple says infringe its patents.

The new list of 21 products includes Samsung’s flagship smartphone Galaxy S III as well as the Galaxy Note, another popular Android phone. If the court finds those devices are infringing Apple’s patents and irreparably harming the U.S. company, it could temporarily halt sales in the U.S. market even before the trial begins.

The latest accusation is part of a larger, epic struggle over patents and innovation in one of the most lucrative consumer electronics sectors that is unfolding in 10 countries.

The biggest stakes are in the U.S., the world’s largest smartphone market in 2011. Last month, a jury in the San Jose court found that Samsung had copied Apple’s design innovations and Samsung was ordered to pay Apple $1.05 billion. Samsung has vowed to appeal the verdict, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

On Saturday, Samsung denounced Apple’s attempt to halt sales of the S III, which hit the 10 million global sales mark in July, less than three months after its release.

“Apple continues to resort to litigation over market competition in an effort to limit consumer choice,” Samsung said in a statement. “We will continue to take the necessary legal measures to ensure the availability of our innovative products in the United States.”

The strong sales of the S III were crucial in driving Samsung’s quarterly profit to a record high in the last quarter and helped it stay ahead in the worldwide smartphone market.

In documents filed with San Jose federal district court on Friday, Apple said 21 Samsung smartphones, media players and tablets released after August 2011 were “copycat products.”

“Rather than innovate and develop its own technology and a unique Samsung style for its smartphone and tablet computer products, Samsung has chosen to copy Apple’s technology, user interface, and innovative style,” Apple said in one document.

The Cupertino, California-based company claimed that Samsung is illegally using its eight patents. One patent is related to the way the device retrieves information in a computer system and another is about gestures on a touchscreen display to unlock a device.

Apple and Samsung are the world’s two largest smartphone makers and together they control over half of the global market. They are embroiled in similar legal tussles in Asia, Europe and the United States.

In April 2011, Apple first accused Samsung of illegally copying Apple’s design and technology in the smartphones powered by Google Inc.’s Android technology. Samsung countersued, arguing Apple’s iPhone and iPad used its wireless technology without permission.

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