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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  1. Silverburn

    Most arrows point to Apple. Says it all really.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

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

      1. Bumpy Cat

        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:

      2. Mips

        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?

    2. David 138
      Thumb Down

      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.

      1. Chris Parsons Bronze badge

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

    3. Captain Scarlet

      Apple made OS9

      /me runs screaming from the building

  2. Kevin7

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, but it's good for lawyers

      and patent trolls.

    2. keithpeter Silver badge

      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.

  3. Alan Bourke

    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.

    1. matt 44

      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.

      1. g e

        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.

        1. matt 44

          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.

          1. Christian Berger

            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.

            1. Daniel B.

              @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.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @Christian Berger

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

        2. Anonymous Coward
          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.

        3. SuccessCase

          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:

          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.

        4. PassiveSmoking

          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?

          1. iucidium

            Re: Absolutely Wrong

            *grabs LG Prada*

      2. Anonymous Coward
        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!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

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

            Here is another clue: it wasn't Apple.

            1. matt 44

              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 ?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            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.

            1. Joel 1

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

              (One other nitpick - the original iPhone did have a camera)

              My daughter had an LG Prada phone. It scored massively on the style front. It was less than brilliant on the usability front. It worked well enough for the time, but was definitely a phone on a par with the others around at the time. It felt like a feature phone which happened to have buttons that were invisible.

              When the original iPhone was announced, it felt like something completely different from all other phones that were around at the time. It's primary competitors at the time were probably Handspring and Palm. At any rate, it was enough for me to move away from SonyEricsson feature phones - previously I would never have even considered a smartphone. I had used a Nokia Communicator for work, and found the experience less than inspiring.

              The technology was not important to me at the time. The usability of the whole was.

              It is true that there wasn't an app store. However, although I had been able to buy java apps for the feature phones, I would never have considered doing even that. I am in a very different place now to back then.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. PsychicMonkey

          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...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Absolutely Wrong

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

          2. Anonymous Coward
            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.

            1. daiakuma

              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.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. matt 44

            Re: Here we go

            Here we go indeed.

          2. matt 44

            Re: Here we go

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

            Cool story bro.

          3. Arctic fox
            Thumb Up

            @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.

        3. Kristian Walsh

          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.

          1. SuccessCase

            Re: Invention != Innovation

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

          2. Pierre Castille

            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?)

          3. Toothpick

            Re: Invention != Innovation

            Innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments, and society. Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a better and, as a result, novel idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself. Innovation differs from improvement in that innovation refers to the notion of doing something different (Lat. innovare: "to change") rather than doing the same thing better

            From Wikipedia

          4. attoman

            Re: Invention != Innovation

            Hear, hear!

        4. aj87

          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.

        5. Daniel B.

          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.

        6. Peter 48

          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.

        7. John 104

          Re: Absolutely Wrong

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

        8. Naughtyhorse

          Re: Absolutely Wrong

          threw away all the existing bad phone interfaces...

          oh and the ability to make calls as well!

          apple are clearly the worst offender (your holding it wrong etc etc etc)

          but all smartphones as far as i can tell are pretty piss poor phones!

      4. Anonymous Coward

        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"

        1. matt 44

          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

          1. rascally

            Re: Absolutely Wrong x2

            Nokia had an app store years before Apple even produced a phone.

          2. Naughtyhorse

            Re: Absolutely Wrong x2

            made apple the most valuable company

            only cos cocaine produders arent quoted on the stock exchange...

            and your point was?

            The value of the company has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with what the company does. it's just the price of a share multiplied by the number of shares. its a beauty contest, nothing more. just look at FB... it's the same company today as it was on the issue day as it was a year before.

            exxon is, i believe, the second most valuable, so does it follow that exxon are more inovative than say Mclaren racing? somehow i doubt it.

      5. Big_Ted
        Thumb Down

        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......

      6. RainForestGuppy

        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

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

        2. Naughtyhorse

          Re: Absolutely Wrong

          i agree with your point except that facts :-)

          clearly you are american, cos yank cars are well known to be badly designed, badly built, with these shortcomings addressed by putting a massive v8 lump in the front. (cornering??? you ever been to montana boy?)

          and for the record my nissan drinks petrol like it's got shares in opec.

          regarding innovation, apple dont do it. tablets, smartphones all featured in sci-fi movies decades before these devices being made (think uhura with her early 60's BT earpiece) these things are merely logical (captain) and as such, like the car with 4 wheels and 4 doors clearly not a patentable thing.

      7. Anonymous Coward
        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." 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.

      8. Peter 48

        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.

      9. Schultz

        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.

      10. John 104
        Thumb Down

        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.

      11. iucidium

        Re: Absolutely Wrong

        Look inside your iPad - quelle surprise! Samsung parts.

  4. RainForestGuppy

    One group that's behind all this..


  5. ZeroP

    Tried to rate article 11 out of 10


    1. Gazareth

      Re: Tried to rate article 11 out of 10

      That's because Christopher Guest holds the patent on that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tried to rate article 11 out of 10

        But is it FRAND?


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Tried to rate article 11 out of 10

          iPlayer volume control goes to 11, does he know about that?

  6. Richard Jones 1

    Apple Certainly copied one thing

    Nothing is more easily or rapidly sure to give me the pip than *(&^%$££"! (cr)apple. It is even faster than and far less enjoyable than the real fruit.

  7. matt 44

    Disingenuous reporting

    Apple are far from the most litigious, Apple is subject to many more cases than it has brought. But its easy and lazy to trot out the same myth about Apple being a troll and get the same mindless responses from anyone who has the faintest dislike of apple.

    1. Tim Parker

      Re: Disingenuous reporting

      ..or you could try actually reading article ?

      1. g e

        Re: Disingenuous reporting

        Why? When the pictures are so pretty...

      2. matt 44

        Re: Disingenuous reporting

        I read it, you clearly didnt. Look, even the title reads - "Apple = patent troll"

        1. Tim Parker

          Re: Disingenuous reporting

          "I read it, you clearly didnt."

          Well, I did - and nowhere did I see anyone accuse Apple of being the "most litigious" as you said. Matt does say he wished a number of companies, Apple included, would carry on with the good work they have done and stop indulging in so much troll-like behaviour - fair comment IMO, and hardly singling, or anyone else, out. From the article

          "Apple is great because Apple has embraced (copied) and extended others' ideas. The same is true of every other technology company. There is no such thing as pure ex nihilo innovation. Everyone builds on the shoulders of those who came before them..."

          "The technology industry seems to have forgotten this, and great brands like Apple and Google are sullying those brands with patent troll-like behavior. They should stop and get on with their real business: selling devices, selling ads, selling things."

          That's hardly disingenuous in my book.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Last year I was on holiday in Cornwall and visited a restored steam pumping engine at one of the old tin mines. They were running the engine that day and the man in charge of it was discussing the history of the development of steam engines with some other visitors. Suddenly he started talking about patents - James Watt had patents on his steam engine and spend most of the latter part of his life taking other people to court for infringing his patents (though interestingly, apparently, someone else had patented the crankshaft so that Watt had to use a less efficient "planet gear" to convert the linear motion of the cylinder into circular motion on a drive wheel). He even persuaded parliament to pass a new patent act to extend the length of protection on his patents. But the comment that hit home to me was that due to Watt taking to court anyone else who tried to further develop the steam engine the result was that the main take off of the industrial revolution was probably delayed by 20-30 years until he died/his patents lapsed when other people were able to come in and develop further improvements that generated the power needed for railways etc.

    In 200 years time will people be looking about at the start of the 21st century saying that the "electronic revolution" was delayed by 20-30 years because everyone sued everyone else?

    1. keithpeter Silver badge


      Patent pooling and nationalised industry: US was different in 1920s

      All good fun.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      No - because fortunately we have an entire continent where US patents can be widely ignored !

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Were there really no smart phones before the iPhone? I am convinced there were, possibly suffering from reality distortion. Reckon a couple of space cakes from the Silk Road should fix that right up!

    1. Christian Berger

      The sad thing about all those patents is that they are about the things I hate about mobile phones. Just build one without all those missfeatures and you'll get a near perfect device.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well you could start by looking at anything with Symbian, Series 60, UIQ , Quartz ..... the grandaddy of them all was probably the Ericsson R380, followed by Motorola P800 ......

      " In December 1999 the magazine Popular Science appointed the Ericsson R380 Smartphone to one of the most important advances in science and technology.[4] It was a groundbreaking device since it was as small and light as a normal mobile phone.[5] It was the first device to use the new Symbian OS.[6]" - you'ļl be wanting page 60, although there seems to be an early super-curvy plastic-fantastic iMac laptop (iBook) in tangerine on page 61,

      and a Handspring Visor on page 62 ..... with stand and clip-on fullsize keyboard - deja vu!

      Or the venerable Nokia Communicator 9210 ...... landscape clamshell phone , Symbian ...... querty ...

  10. James 51

    we'll be left with BlackBerrys. Again. Heaven help us

    Oh come on, they aren't that bad. RIM was one of the few companies with no arrow pointing outwards. Nokia's only one was a settled suit with Apple. Although now M$ have their claws firmly embedded that may change.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll just leave this TED talk here

    It's worth a watch for anyone interested in this subject... IMHO of course.

    I would have linked to TED directly but according to the comments they have a sound issue going on with their player

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Proof that TED is for morons

      TED: where the brain dead go to get laid.

    2. Christian Berger

      Good example

      Since all the patents here about fashion, not technology. Strictly speaking they should not have been granted.

  12. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    In fact, some even thrive because they are so open to copying.

    Remind me - wasn't that exactly how the IBM PC design became so popular? Not only was it open to copying, it was actively encouraged, with the exception of the BIOS...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In fact, some even thrive because they are so open to copying.

      Yup, which nearly killed Apple, when they were "Apple Computer"

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Matt, meet graphene.

    "There is no such thing as pure ex nihilo innovation"

    But there IS innovation: new processes, new methods, and new substances are invented every day. We want more innovation like this, and patents are STILL the best and fairest way we have of encouraging it.

    Better patent examiners and quicker enforcement to help the little guy are badly needed.

    You want to opt-out of the patent system? Cool, Matt, hand over your gadgets and take the first bus with "Destination: Unicorn Land" written on the front. Let us know how you get on in twenty years.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Matt, meet graphene.

      You conveniently forgot to mention we should stop patenting ideas, methods and mathematics all of which happen to be components of software.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sorry to contradict you, Mr. Asay

    but Intellectual Vultures remains the greatest patent troll of all times. They didn't stop suing companies over patents, it's just that they outsourced the dirty job to a long list of 1200 shell companies they have spawn.

    You don't seem to read El Reg much, do you ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sorry to contradict you, Mr. Asay

      Don't be so apologetic, his analyses are always completely off the mark. Sounds like he's a bit lost, much like his recent job history.

  15. David Lewis 2
    Thumb Up

    Common Sense

    Sadly common sense seem in short supply these days.

    Remember the consultants/lawyers motto:

    "If you are not a part of the solution, there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem!"

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Matt Asay is such a troll

    Matt Asay clearly loves to blame Apple for industry-wide problems, then roll around on the floor, laughing at the nonsense comments that the Android and Apple camps proceed to hurl at each-other.

    1. Andy ORourke

      Re: Matt Asay is such a troll

      Agreed, wouldnt it be nice if we could all just get along and agree to disagree. I mean seriously, I really don't care what phone or tablet you CHOOSE to use, it's your decision and presumably they do the things you require of them.

      My phone / tablet isn't better or worse than your's it's just the one I CHOSE.

      Where would the fun be though, the foaming mouthed rants at least make me smile from time to time :-)

  17. Swarthy Silver badge

    Standing on the necks of Giants

    Where it used to be "If I have seen further it is by standing on ye sholders of Giants". Now I guess it's more important to stand on their necks, to prevent them from being able to "see further".

  18. Number6

    Encourage Innovation

    Patents were originally intended to encourage innovation by providing inventors with a bit of control over their ideas (and so give them chance to make some money) in return for making them public.

    I would argue that the current patent regime, especially the US flavour, coupled with lazy patent offices that grant patents with minimal checking and let the legal system do their work for them, is stifling innovation Therefore, the system should be abolished or some other restriction placed on exploitation of patents.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Encourage Innovation

      Ideas are not patentable matter. Also when you have to deal with 10000 patents a day written in such a dense legalese language that will make Klingon self-explaining then I guess, then yeah you might become a little bit lazy.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not the Apple stole from PARC rubbish again.

    Xerox wanted to invest in Apple! They invited them to PARC and were compensated for the priviledge: "Xerox granted Apple engineers three days of access to the PARC facilities in return for the option to buy 100,000 shares (800,000 split-adjusted shares) of Apple at the pre-IPO price of $10 a share"

    At the IPO Apple's shares netted $22, more than doubling Xerox's investment (this was back in 1980). Today's value of that stock would be over 500 million dollars, if Xerox had kept it. Not bad for 3 days' access.

    Xerox also had no clue or interest in how to to make their GUI technology accessible and affordable to people, that was all Apple.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Metavisor - I still don't see in your post

      that Apple didn't pick (or blatantly copied, depending on whose side you are) some of Xerox ideas.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've said it before and I'll say it again

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: I've said it before and I'll say it again

      Stated in the link: [The patent system] may have had a purpose once ...

      An earlier post in this thread (about Watt and the steam engine) suggests things might have been no better 200+ years ago, and that the purpose then may have been essentially the same as it is now.

      I have not seen a detailed analysis proving that the first mover advantage, which Apple has in abundance with the iPhone and even more so with the iPad, is insufficient to enough to reward inventors.

  21. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Jobs is gone

    There will be no more innovation. Apple is trying to hang on to what it has.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Jobs is gone

      But Mr Ive is still alive ;)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Paul Hovnanian - Re: Jobs is gone

      Except for litigation where the innovation continues. They should hurry up and register the iLegal trade mark before somebody else is doing it.

  22. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    If intellectual property rights are so vital..

    Shouldn't Hollywood be allowed to patent things?

    If you can patent rounded corners or putting a rectangular screen on the front of a device - then surely you can patent always having the car explode when it runs off the road or having the girl realise that she really loved the nice guy all the time?

    Then increasing the number of patent trolls would decrease the number of formulaic movies!

    Well actually it wouldn't but they would have to base them on Shakespeare and Austen instead of last months other blockbuster.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Great article.....really. The chart was an eye opener.

  24. Mitoo Bobsworth

    More money than brains

    All of them.

  25. dssf

    There's an app for that...

    and apple will patent "Patent Patent Corporate Insanity, in Collusion with and Exploitation of the USPTO"...

  26. david 12

    Art, Artists, Painting

    Artists have always known that art is built on previous art. Actually, they often spend years studing art. My friends used to spend their spare time going to art gallaries. It wasn't any less bitchy than the Music business, but they weren't trying to pretend that every idea had never been used before.

  27. attoman

    The core of innovation is frequently invention- but someone must pay the inventor

    Invention is the provence of small companies, individuals and little groups in large entities.

    The truly important inventions like the touch screen (both resistive and its close cousin capacitive) invented in the '70's and used both by fingers (including a form of multi-touch) and with styli emerged from small companies/inventors trying to solve problems of using the new microprocessor in new product applications like GAMES (Atari's Pong is one such).

    These devices were for the most part rejected by PC companies large and small who had no idea about the tablet computers and small games the size of calculators the inventors had in mind.

    I can assure you that tremendous advances could have been made in the pointing device area but small minds at Microsoft and Apple decided the mouse was good enough, and self fulfilling prophecy it was indeed.

    Now to point. the touch screen inventors were not paid, their work went public and free.

    Apple paid less then nothing for its touch screen, and anyone who wants to kick the multi-touch patents down the toilet need only call. The inventors saw their work was going no where and stopped. The bean counters got the left overs. The innovators (Apple) got the paycheck and they are not sharing in any way at all.

    So celebrate the licensing effort this article bemoans! For some of us licensing is the only reason we are still (very carefully) in the game. I can tell you all though that for some years now we always make the new stuff with a healthy dose of trade secret unobtanium so who ever comes along after these patents expire may well wish for the old days.

    Remember Patents only last 20 years from the filing date but good trade secrets are forever!

    And for those who admire Techdirt and others who hate patents (but who think their prattle 's copyright is precious). Patents mean the next generation gets to see the last generations solutions so they can improve and build on them. Only works, though, in a world in which the creators are allowed to make a living.

  28. toadwarrior

    The headline implies apple started but (surpringly) tells the truth in the artcle making the headline a bit stupid and misleading. Which I guess sums up most of the content here.

  29. Hubert Thrunge Jr.

    Apple this, Apple that,...

    Regardless of all of this rhubarb about Apple's innovation, invention, or just plain ripping off other people's ideas, if Apple's marketing people spent their usual kind of budget on telling people that adding Potassium Cynanide to your early morning Latte was a great thing because Apple said so, the fanbois would do it.

    Put your blinkers on and run to the light.......

  30. It's sunny in Wellington

    Apple - Pah!

    I've hated Apple and their modus operandi ever since they took down Atari (remember the ST?) for building a module that let the Atari run Apple software FASTER than the Apples of the day.

    This kind of business activity is in their genes, it's what they do.

    I'll go back to pen and paper before I willingly give 1 penny of my money to Apple

  31. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    "Now" Apple and Amazon are patent-trolling?

    Now the patent problem is so widespread that even companies like Apple and Amazon are starting to look like trolls.

    Now? Starting?

    Look-and-feel. One-click. &c.

    Once again Matt shows a rather idiosyncratic view of IT history.

  32. David Strum
    Thumb Down

    Honestly – everyone will just throw away their PCs?

    So all that hardware and money pumped into PCs are all of a sudden gone in a puff of Trend-fever? I DON’T THINK SO REG! In times of austerity, people are not going to all rush out to buy small screened replacements for their big screen behemoths. We know it’s moving towards smarter gadgets, but the main problem with tablets is the small screen. It may be possible to connect it to your 52inch TV at home, but I seriously doubt people will just dump their PCs because Apple and Microsoft demand they do. The idea does not ring true from both the majority of low budget consumers and mainstream suppliers. It only makes sense to Apple and smart phone manufacturers, and they’d love us to go their way. But they are living in cloud cuckoo land if they expect to sell their wares at the prices they demand.

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