When we were interviewing the CEO of the Nifty Drives, we asked him the reason why he didn’t patent his product, which we thought it was innovative. He said he didn’t care, the brand of a company is not determined by how many patents you have. The people who copy from your innovation are and will be forever copycats. He was true, patents are those things that are ruining the tech industry, especially software ones that don’t even make sense.
Samsung and Apple seem not to have learned the lesson. In less than two years after the massive trial that saw Apple winning over Samsung with $1 billion in damages, the two tech giants are back in court, playing yet another “childish game”. Apple states that Samsung has stolen several different “features” of iOS to make the Galaxy smartphones and tablets. In the “dispute” there are five main patents issued by Apple, including the “unlock feature” and the auto-correct technology. On the other hand, Samsung claims that nine Apple products, infringe two patents. The South Korean company seeks about $6.9 million in damages.
Another war has just begun and we’ll be watching two big companies fighting for “pennies” compared to what they make every year. This lawsuit is another big example of why we should completely remove Software Patents from the planet Earth. How can you sue another company for having copied the unlock feature?
We are not even talking about physical hardware, but of a few hundred lines of code and a great design. In this particular case, Apple has issued a patent for an idea, not for what the company had created. Ideas can’t be patented, not even the code behind them. When we patent code, we are patenting algorithms, which means we are taking some Maths and making it our own. How can we relegate something that should be for everyone just to our own world?
Even in the second patent, Apple is looking to sue Samsung for having a similar auto-correct system. If Apple released its auto-correct system under the GPL license, by making it Free Software, and Samsung had copied it, it would have made sense. In this case, Apple is trying to sue Samsung for having an auto-correct system and “the specific technology” used in it, not for having stolen code.
If patents were respected, no one would have been able to unlock their device and no one would have an auto-correct feature in their smartphones. Patents are for those companies that are scared. Companies, such as Apple, that have been leading innovation in the smartphone era shouldn’t even care about what the others are doing, because they have basically invented the modern concept of a smartphone.
In the same way, even Samsung shouldn’t make use of patents, because patenting software is like two children fighting over candies. Even Google, which might get involved in this trial, has made use of patents in the past, by acquiring Motorola and selling it. They spent $9 billion just because they wanted to find a way to “protect” themselves from the other big players. This shows us how the system has become sick.
Patents do not protect innovation, they actually kill it. What if a company introduces the idea of un-locking the smartphone and another company finds a better and faster way to do it. Innovations are sometimes improvements of previous findings. Isaac Newton would have never thought of Gravity, if Galileo and Copernicus didn’t study and write their observations more than a hundred years before.
Samsung and Apple are still playing this game, they will never stop. In the end, Apple might even win, as they did last time, but what is the point? You create your brand by showing how different you are, if you stop innovating and start spending millions in lawsuits, you are loosing the “coolness” that you have accumulated through the years. These two tech giants should stop and reflect about what they are doing. The money they are spending could have been used to innovate and improve the lives of billions of people.