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back to article Apple's patent insanity infects Silicon Valley

Spotting a patent troll used to be easy. They were the ones who sold lawsuits, not products. Companies like Intellectual Ventures picked up the title "patent troll" from critics as they went beyond buying and licensing patents to suing companies like Dell and Hewlett-Packard over claimed violations. That is, until the industry …

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Mushroom

Most arrows point to Apple. Says it all really.

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Anonymous Coward

Indeed, Apple are the most valuable company ever. So obviously you follow the money.

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Possibly another reason ...

Apparently one of the reasons that Apple is so highly valued is because hedge fund investors, spooked by the fact that they're actually pretty useless, are buying AAPL:

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/more-evidence-wall-street-is-overpaid-20120821

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Didnt this whole war kick off after Apple attempted to get Samsung banned from Germany? Everyone sues everyone else then they cross licence but Apple tried to suffocate competition. Now i would quite imagine Apple have themselves cornered with alot of upset companies who no longer play nice.

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Alert

Apple made OS9

/me runs screaming from the building

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Headmaster

Nicely. Nice is an adjective, you need an adverb here.

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Childcatcher

Q: Why do people hate Apple?

(that's as a company not the products.)

A: Not because they are the biggest priced company. Not because the products are innovative. Not because their products work. No, it is because they do not want anyone else to be better or even half as good as they are. They are in fact jealous: frightened to be second best.

Is it time to think the unthinkable: to ban patents?

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FAIL

Anyone with a brain knows this endless patent litigation will be toxic for the entire industry. It's ultimately going to strangle innovation rather than encourage it - patent litigation looks more like protection money than a way to protect good ideas.

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah, but it's good for lawyers

and patent trolls.

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Windows

Outside USA?

"Anyone with a brain knows this endless patent litigation will be toxic for the entire industry"

Perhaps the Rest Of The World will just get on with things?

When you see 'not for sale in USA' on some really smart shiny things, I suspect that the adoption of revised patent legislation in the US will speed up a little.

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Absolutely right.

Apple do very little innovation - their genius largely lies in design, execution and marketing of existing concepts. I hope they lose this nonsense.

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FAIL

Absolutely Wrong

Lazy unsubstantiated argument, the iPhone and iPad were the greatest innovations of the last 10 years. Your argument could just as easily be applied to the motor car. engine, wheels, gears already existed. Someone took these existing concepts and created a car but by your definition its not innovation, utter crock.

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g e
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Re: Absolutely Wrong

Given the main component of a tablet is the screen then Samsung/Sharp have probably done the most 'innovation' in the tablet space. You don't think these components are provided without datasheets and reference software (so whomever's using it can base code from it) for implementing software interface, tap, multitouch, centroid detection, etc do you? Perhaps you do.

The CPU's, memory and network stuff remaining are just (by now) well-trodden computing bits. All of this is obvious to most technically minded people.

Slapping a UI in and stuffing it in a shiny case are apple's specialities, not grass roots 'innovation', they do gadgetry mashups well and marketing extremely well.

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Anonymous Coward

' the iPhone and iPad were the greatest innovations of the last 10 years'

Please pick me up off the floor, I can't stop laughing!

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Re: Absolutely Wrong

you still miss the point entirely and my original point still applies. you are talking about something entirely different, i've no doubt that science and technology continues to push the boundaries of what is achievable - making things bigger and better (or smaller and better). Just like engines were over a century ago, there were people who made really good engines but as with an LED panel I dont remember there being much noise about "joe public" scrabbling to buy an engine for his living room, or (contemporarily) buying a state of the art LED panel. You are trying to re-define things so that they fit your argument.

Apple took these bits, insisted that things like touch worked properly, made sure battery life was good, refined to death to get an almost perfect experience and in the process re-defined the mobile phone market and created a huge market for tablets - that IS innovation even Samsung "great innovator of LED Panels' created something that looked remarkably similar to the iPhone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Absolutely Wrong

Exactly right. The iPhone UI and design was a game changer for the industry.

Anyone who disputes this should look at the state of smartphones prior to the launch of the iPhone. Even Android was going to look like a Blackberry with a small screen and qwerty keyboard. Windows Mobile was in two flavours, non-touch and touchscreen versions (but no multitouch).

Microsoft wrote it off as being unlikely to succeed, it almost killed Nokia and RIM are struggling. It's only Android that has managed to grow and that's due to it being given away for free and being open source.

When did you last see any Apple competitors innovate? none of them have anything truly original, they just stick on features or amalgamate other existing technologies like projectors.

The truly innovative thing about the original iPhone is they threw away all the existing bad phone interfaces, 0-9 ABC keypads, dumb stylus touchscreens and fully qwerty keyboards and made a touch screen phone you could operate with your fingers. Anyone who owned a Windows Mobile device or a Sony Ericsson P800/P900/P910 will know what a big leap that was.

I suspect most of the fandroids who deny the iPhone's influence were on non-touch screen devices prior to 2007.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Absolutely Wrong

Anyone can make something if you give them a specification. The innovation is in the design and the original idea.

Your rather flawed argument would mean that Microsoft's C++ compiler could take all the credit for creating a nice EXE and it should be called the author of a program. When actually the code as written by a human is the actual innovation, the compiler just a tool asked to do a job and it does it.

Sure, there can be innovations in production techniques and so on. But a decent smartphone is all about the software ultimately.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ' the iPhone and iPad were the greatest innovations of the last 10 years'

Do you own a smartphone with a capacitive screen and multitouch interface? guess who released one of those first. One with a UI designed for finger input.

I'll give you a clue, it wasn't Google, Microsoft, RIM or any other non-Apple company.

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Re: Absolutely Wrong

except of course it wasn't Apple who threw away the keyboard, it's the trend the market was taking, hence why LG got there first.

They may have had a resistive touchscreen, and it might not have been as polished but it was before the iPhone.

The real problem is Apple fanatics rewrite history so that Apple invented everything...

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Anonymous Coward

Here we go

The fanboys are out in force today. Let's clear some things up:

Apple do not invent

Apple do not innovate

Apple are not the ultimate pinnacle of technology

Apple are a design and marketing company, not a technology company

Some people do not buy Apple because they don't like the interface and find it difficult to navigate and get work done, neither OSX or IOS is a perfect interface even though you may like it

Some people choose not to buy Apple even though they can afford to not because they wanted an iphone or mac but couldn't afford it

Just because you believe Apples products are the best thing ever does not make it true

Some people buy devices to get work done, not wave it around in an expensive mines better than yours pissing contest

Your devotion is a waste of time. Apple are a corporate and do not care a thing about you, the organisation only wants your money and they want a lot of it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ' the iPhone and iPad were the greatest innovations of the last 10 years'

Here is another clue: it wasn't Apple.

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Invention != Innovation

Seems to be confusion about these terms when it comes to Apple, but these are the definitions that the industrial development agencies and the patent offices use:

Invention is a scientific or engineering process that results in the creation of new things; innovation is an engineering, business or marketing process that results in the rearrangement or promotion of existing things into a new, more saleable product. So, by an earlier example: making an internal combustion engine is invention; using one to replace the horses that pull a carriage is innovation.

On that measure, Apple are one of the world's great innovators, but they invent almost nothing these days - real invention is risky, and the cold financial logic dictates that you should let small companies take these risks - especially if you've more money for acquisitions than your competitors do.

As for iPhone, the defining feature of the iPhone, its multitouch gesture interface, was bought in by acquiring Fingerworks - without that, the iPhone would have been something like a Palm Pilot, or Newton, with nicer graphics and a substandard phone. On that, my own hunch is that the iPod Touch was the original product, but the "phone" bit was added during development to enable Apple to charge a higher price -- after all, retail prices for even mid-range mobiles were higher than you could ever ask for a media player.

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Re: Absolutely Wrong

No actually Apple took the worst things already on the market, made devices which pleased the operators (at least at first), then put in huge amounts of marketing.

Compared to what came before the iPhone is just bad. Even compared to Apples previous products like the Newton. Compared to what we had, say in 2005, the iPhone probably wouldn't even be considered to be a Smartphone.

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Re: Absolutely Wrong

@ g e

Complete failure to understand the distinction between innovation and invention. Apple are an innovator and less so an invention factory - thought they do also invent. Inventions by nature refer to small incremental steps and all inventors sit on the shoulders of giants who come before. It's built into the notion of a patent (software or hardware patent) that an invention can only cover one coherent solution or technical step. If it contains a mere aggregation of known solutions it has to be divided into multiple applications until atomic "inventive steps" are identified or it falls apart as something that is not truly novel (as an aside it is this process patent examiners have often so manifestly failed to execute properly when granting software patents and it can be argued, if done properly, it will be discovered there is no such thing as a software invention).

Innovation by contrast is about assembling inventions/technology solutions (which may be your own protected by patent, your own but available to the public domain, from the public domain, or licensed from others), into something new and coherent and valuable to end users and bringing it effectively to a market. The innovator seeks to identify a novel assemblage of features and design which satisfy end users. On any measure Apple are a spectacularly successful innovator. "Slapping a UI in and stuffing it in a shiny case" is of course just trolling, since it is well documented Apple's design process is anything but a bit of slap and Sellotape. Your use of the ungainly term "grass roots innovation" is an attempt to imply innovation is nothing other than invention, which as I have indicated is a redefinition of the relative meaning of the terms in a poor attempt to make it seem like Apple don't do innovation.

BTW for an understanding of what the result when a company actually relies of lazy mashups and marketing check out this link here:

http://www.androidpolice.com/2012/08/21/samsung-galaxy-note-10-1-review-an-embarrassing-lazy-arrogant-money-grab/

Also check out the state of the laptop industry and the HP widescreen multimedia bricks before Apple showed the way with the Macbook Air - again innovation not invention.

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Re: Invention != Innovation

Well said Kristian, You posted your comment while I was typing mine, so apologies for the duplication in theme.

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Re: Absolutely Wrong

The technology of touchscreens evolved from resistive to capacitive, the capability and price was right for them to be used en-mass on the iPhone, so of course other phone manufacturers are going to follow.

All of Apple's amazing "innovations" are because of this. iPhone, a phone with no keyboard, iPad a laptop with no keyboard. Wow just wow, no one else could have come up with that.

Yes I have an Android device, but I had an Sony Ericsson P900 when that was new, and a HTC TYTN2 when that was new, they were fantastic in their day. technology moves on, components get smaller, cheaper and better.

What Apple are good at is marketing, as an Android fan, I think the Samsung S3 is a hardware cut above, but I haven't got one, nor would I queue to get one, there's nothing I need in it. People in their drones brought iPhone 4S's why? Did they need it? Did the hardware offer anything new really? no but its hype and marketing is that good.

Samsung's touchwiz undoubtedly copied Apple, they should lose on that, but these stupid patents on screens with a small rounded bezel is ridiculous and anti-competitive. Anyone rooting for Apple to win better be shareholders, because this is not going to have any benefit for Apple consumers and its going to make any cheaper alternative more expensive for the U.S. market at least, hopefully our judges this side continue being intelligent.

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@Christian Berger

Oh so very true. The first gen iPhone in fact would actually fall into a feature phone category before the 3G's release. No apps aside from the ones given to you by Apple. In fact, probably worse than feature phones, as these can have third-party apps installed while the original iPhone couldn't.

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Unhappy

Re: Absolutely Wrong

"Anyone who disputes this should look at the state of smartphones prior to the launch of the iPhone."

Lots of Symbian smartphones that did a lot of awesome shit. As Nokia hadn't borged Symbian, most smartphone manufacturers embraced this and were working on a standard UI to be used on the whole platform (UIQ) so they did have something to aim for.

WinMo sucked, but then again WinMo always sucked donkey balls.

RIM had good security, but their specs sucked and the OS would start getting the "infinite clock of DOOM" issues when the shared memory ran out (which is sadly, *still* common on most BBs due to stupidly limited shared memory on the BBs). The first OS with decent features was 4.5, though I'd say that 6 would be the first one that actually looks nice enough to compete with the rest.

Maemo was nice.

Didn't even know about Android back then.

The iPhone killed most of these, so now we have to choose between secure-but-clunky-BB, grab-your-data-Android, or "my way or the highway" iOS. Neither looks pleasant. The Smartphone market looks uglier than pre-iPhone.

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Re: Here we go

Here we go indeed.

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Re: Absolutely Wrong x2

Lazy unsubstantiated argument, the iPhone and iPad were the greatest innovations of the last 10 years.

Another example of a lazy unsubstantiated argument would be: "The iPhone and iPad were the greatest innovations of the last 10 years"

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Re: Absolutely Wrong

If it was so easy to invent the iphone, then go and pick up a smartphone from 2006. If it's so easy then why are none of them anything like an iphone?

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Re: Absolutely Wrong

What utter rubbish.....

If you want to pick a tech innovation as the greatest in the last 10 years then its the ARM chip.

Its low power to high speed SOC is what makes all the current phones and tablets etc possible.

Along with so many other uses its impossible to name them all......

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Re: Absolutely Wrong

Actually no. A car was just a delevopment of the horse and cart, hence why they were orginally refered to as horseless carriages.

But to continue your anology, Apple are like Nissan( or Honda or Toyota, etc).

Everybody made cars before, but they were uneliable, inefficient, the Japanese car manufactuerers came along in the late 70's/early 80's and just gave everybody a more user-friendly vehicle that would start first time and wouldn't drink gas. A car still has 4 wheels, an engine, etc. Nissan/Honda didn't innovate they just refined the product. I don't see Nissan or the likes now going back and trying to sue everybody else for producing a vehicle with 4 doors, 4 wheels and an engine?*

Lying on my bookshelf I have an old Compaq TC1000, It's a rectangle with rounded off corner, It has a touch screen (although it's fairly poor and needs a stylus) but it is a Tablet computer produced 8 years before the iPad. Apple have taken the basic idea and refined it. No innovation just evolution of a design.

*Neither do Nissan insist that you only use Nissan petrol, Nissan oil, only have the radio tuned to Nissan FM and drive on Nissan approved roads. Which is my biggest beef with Apple products

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Re: Invention != Innovation

An alternative definiton set is Invention is the creative step of producing something completely new to solve an existing problem. Inovation is the organisational effort (including manufacture, marketing and sales) of getting the whatever it is to be adopted as the new way of solving the problem by governments, businesses or consumers.

Inventors dream up new stuff. Innovators get it to market.

Apple are not inventors of much but they are the best innovators since the last lot. (Microsoft?)

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Re: Here we go

In amongst your fairytale, i gathered that you don't like apple.

Cool story bro.

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@AC 22nd Aug 13.39 "Apple are a corporate and do not care a thing about you"

Exactly. One of the biggest laughs I have had in recent years was when Mr S Jobs said at a press conference during the "antenna-gate" affair "we love our customers". He managed to deliver that line without cracking up and laughing - all hail to him, the master marketeer that he was. However, that is the point, no example of "BigCorp" loves their customers, they love our wallets - nothing else.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Absolutely Wrong

"Lazy unsubstantiated argument, the iPhone and iPad were the greatest innovations of the last 10 years."

Also a 'lazy, unsubstantiated argument'. Innovating involves, innovating. Innovation from Apple would very rapidly be followed by a patent application.

Apple have patents regarding, the rectangular shape with rounded corners. A feature to unlock by sliding you finger across the screen, searching multiple sources at once and hyper linking where a pattern exists and launching the appropriate application.

Are you really saying these are the greatest innovations in 10 years? Better than anything else - space, technology, medicine?

"Do you own a smartphone with a capacitive screen and multitouch interface? guess who released one of those first. One with a UI designed for finger input.

I'll give you a clue, it wasn't Google, Microsoft, RIM or any other non-Apple company."

Err...it LG was one of the first.

"Even Android was going to look like a Blackberry with a small screen and qwerty keyboard"

No it wasn't - there were two prototypes - one Blackberry-esq and another slab like. However, most fanbois will try to only play half the video showing the two prototypes. What do you mean you haven't seen the video? Oh you just read it on the internet, must be true then.

Apple were a great company who massively raised the game in the smartphone arena, but it was only an evolution, not a revolution. Some of the work that Android, Nokia and others has way surpassed it - with further evolution. The iPhone 5/6 may leap frog ahead again with further features that beat the competition, they may even produce a truly revolutionary phone, that takes the industry by storm, who knows. However, look through the stacks of evidence from the Apple-Samsung trial and you'll see that there wasn't a whole lot of major innovation going on.

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Re: Absolutely Wrong x2

ok, all contemporary phones have touch UI and have an app store like the iPhone - no one had these before apple, the iPad has defined its own segment of devices and continues to define the cutting edge of technology for most consumers.

Apple are now the most valuable company ever and this is on the back of their iPhone and iPad success. Any modern tech show you go to will consist mainly of OEM's producing products derived from Apple's be they smart phones, tablets or Ultra books. thats why they are the greatest innovation in the last ten years because they made apple the most valuable company

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Re: ' the iPhone and iPad were the greatest innovations of the last 10 years'

go on then, what was, cant wait for this, Samsung Galaxy S ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Absolutely Wrong

And HTC Hermes ... also resistive, 3G, WiFi, microSD, keyboard relegated to behind the body ..... not really needed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Absolutely Wrong

True, but do you remember the rather wacky Japanese interiors before it became trendy to do them mostly in dark colours.... I rremember vividly things like light violet carpet and beige dashboard... plus of course an "actual radio" woo... the Brits or Germans would have charged you a LOT for that at the time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Christian Berger

Plus pretty much all the opposition smartphones (and many feature phones!) had 3G already .....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Absolutely Wrong

The LG Prada had a capacitive multi-touchable screen (not resistive) - oh and it was winning design awards before Apple's iPhone had even been announced.

People have rose tinted glasses for sure. It wasn't that the iPhone was mind-blowing. It had less features than a lot of it's competitors. It did some things very well and was a fresh new product. however, what won the day was the app store.

A simple, one-stop shop for apps that were simple to install and had a uniform look and feel. Sure there were apps before, and app stores, but Apple with their experience and problems of iTunes managed to bring them together for the iPhone.

The smartphone market was dry, the incumbents getting lazy, Apple was the new tech golden-boy and already had a legion of fanbois - they launched at the right time with device that was on-trend.

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Stop

Re: Absolutely Wrong

Your counter is highly flawed. It implies that the person creating the car is the first one to do so, which is obviously not the case. Apple took an existing idea and managed to sell it better than anyone else beforehand. Their skill lies in purchasing the right components and wrapping them in an elegant design, then promoting the bejesus out of it and building on that popularity with good customer service and second-to-none image control.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ' the iPhone and iPad were the greatest innovations of the last 10 years'

"Do you own a smartphone with a capacitive screen and multitouch interface? guess who released one of those first. One with a UI designed for finger input."

The answer is LG.

LG released a phone called the LG Prada about six months before the iPhone. It had a capacitive multitouch interface. It had minimalist styling. It was well-received by consumers and reviewers alike. It even won prizes for design.

The iPhone, when it came out, was a lot like the LG Prada except (a) the LG Prada had an FM radio and the iPhone didn't, (b) the LG Prada could play Microsoft's WMA audio files and the iPhone couldn't, (c) the LG Prada ran Flash, and the iPhone didn't, (d) the LG Prada had a built-in camera, and the iPhone didn't.

The other big difference between the iPhone and the LG Prada? The marketing budget. Apple's advertising budget is off the scale. Very few companies in the world can come close. Since launch, Apple have consistently spent well over a hundred million dollars a year advertising the iPhone.

Apple do NOT innovate. They just use blitzkrieg marketing to dominate market segments and create the ILLUSION that they innovate.

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Re: Absolutely Wrong

One small correction there: the original iPhone did not have "apps". In fact, Steve Jobs was opposed to the idea of people downloading apps. Pressure from developers led to Apple launching an App Store in mid-2008, when they launched the 3GS.

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Stop

Re: Absolutely Wrong

Utter tosh. I was quite happy with my Sony clie PDA in 2003 which use a grid of icons as a UI followed by my ipaq which, guess what, used a grid of icons to launch apps. There were also plenty of phones with large touch screens (windows mobile and palm come to mind) prior to 2007. The only problem is that they were solely marketed to buisness types and tech nerds because nobody believed that there was mass market appeal. Apple's philosophy was to not bother trying to compete in this limited and crowded market, instead they figured they should go after the much much larger mass market by creating a beautifully minimalist phone that essentially ditched almost everything but the bare essentials to offer a more user friendly interface that appealed to anyone intimidated by too many options. They then followed that up with unprecedented levels of promotion and marketing, unheard of prior to that for a phone that sat at the top end of the market. When the iPhone first launched it was generally ignored by the big boys in the game - Blackberry & Nokia, who considered it more of an expensive fashion item than a true contender. For one nobody thought there was much appeal for a phone with only an onscreen keypad. When Apple and others started to shift touchscreen only phones by the boat load they proved that there actually was a market for them, and a very big one as well. That is Apple's largest contribution to the smartphone market. They did the very same for the tablet market as well, again proving that you could generate sufficient demand for what used to be a niche device if you promote it well - and this is the key element that Samsung cottoned on to and the only thing Samsung can rightfully be accused of copying from Apple: making promotion a key factor in your device strategy. Their sales figures are proof that that tactic works.

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Re: Absolutely Wrong

The iphone/Ipad were not great innovations, they were just refinements of existing devices to create a good user experience. A bit like the Sony Walkman in the 80s. Sony did not get a monopoly on Walkmans.

Apple deserves all the money it earned with its well-designed product. But Apple didn't invent the phone, the touchscreen or the music player and therefore should not be allowed to stifle competition in the market for such devices. The purpose of patents is to protect costly inventions, not some quick sketch of a rectangular device or the idea to use two fingers on a touchscreen. It takes only one finger to express an opinion on what Apple tries to do.

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Re: Absolutely Wrong

Fanboi much?

Smart phones were around before the iPhone, so there isn't much inventing there, just nice packaging and clever marketing.

iPad? Same. Again Apple just managed to make it smaller and then declare that the world needed it.

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Re: Absolutely Wrong

Sorry, but Palm had touch screen licensed phones back in 2003. Worked a treat too. Next uninformed statment!

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