Defensive tool. Not
Apparently after Apple were sued for $100m in 2006 by Creative, Jobs' attitude was patent everything, especially as the iPhone was being released. Reads to me as though Apple got a bloody nose and Jobs' attitude was not to get caught out like that again.
Interesting article here on his "Defensive tool".
...and an extract here:
It was 2006, and Apple was preparing to unveil the first iPhone. Life inside company headquarters, former executives said, had become a frenzy of programming sessions and meetings between engineers and executives. And, increasingly, patent lawyers.
Just months earlier, Apple reluctantly agreed to pay $100 million to Creative Technology...
Privately, Mr. Jobs gathered his senior managers. While Apple had long been adept at filing patents, when it came to the new iPhone, "we're going to patent it all," he declared, according to a former executive who, like other former employees, requested anonymity because of confidentiality agreements.
"His attitude was that if someone at Apple can dream it up, then we should apply for a patent, because even if we never build it, it's a defensive tool," said Nancy R. Heinen, Apple's general counsel until 2006.
Soon, Apple's engineers were asked to participate in monthly "invention disclosure sessions." One day, a group of software engineers met with three patent lawyers, according to a former Apple patent lawyer who was at the meeting.
The first engineer discussed a piece of software that studied users' preferences as they browsed the Web.
"That's a patent," a lawyer said, scribbling notes.
Another engineer described a slight modification to a popular application.
"That's a patent," the lawyer said.
Another engineer mentioned that his team had streamlined some software.
"That's another one," the lawyer said.
"Even if we knew it wouldn't get approved, we would file the application anyway," the former Apple lawyer said in an interview. "If nothing else, it prevents another company from trying to patent the idea."
The disclosure session had yielded more than a dozen potential patents when an engineer, an Apple veteran, spoke up. "I would like to decline to participate," he said, according to the lawyer who was at the meeting. The engineer explained that he didn't believe companies should be allowed to own basic software concepts.
Looks like there was only one kind of tool