back to article Why the Apple-Samsung verdict is good for you, your kids and tech

Relax, everyone. While the patent system is far from perfect, a remarkably common-sense jury decision last week in the Apple-Samsung trial has clarified that patents are the "lifeblood of business", as inventor James Dyson calls it. Putting powerful short-term legal protections under inventions is overwhelmingly more …

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  1. Christopher Rogers
    Mushroom

    Ah yes, the tech blogs of the world are divided

    Gizmodo have published an article that rips this case to bits and suggests Samsung have enough ammo to blow massive holes in this outcome

    I gather you don't agree....

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Ah yes, the tech blogs of the world are divided

      Maybe Gizmono's website is more rounded, just realised El Reg doesn't like corner (Well certainly in the browser I am using).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      Re: Ah yes, the tech blogs of the world are divided

      Gizmodo? Ah well, Apple are fucked then.

      What bothers me is that 27 of you up voted this. I'm not going to argue who is right and who is wrong, I'm massively disappointed that 27 of you think althay an article on Gizmodo has any merit whatsoever, legal or otherwise.

      1. Neil Greatorex

        @AnotherNetNarcissist

        WTF is an althay?

        Enquiring minds need to know.

    3. John 104

      Re: Ah yes, the tech blogs of the world are divided

      Interesting, considering that Giz is the most heavily Apple slanted site this side of the Atlantic.

    4. Shagbag

      Gizmodo? Groklaw

      Credit where credit is due. A lot of Gizmodo's material comes from Groklaw (and is acknowledged by Gizmodo as such).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Gizmodo? Groklaw

        A lot of Gizmodo's material comes from Groklaw (and is acknowledged by Gizmodo as such).

        Regrettably, that is very much *not* a guarantee that the material is free of bias. I'm not saying that Groklaw isn't a brilliant site, but I would caution against considering it neutral because it isn't. Try, for instance, to say anything negative about Google and see what happens..

        1. Joseph Lord
          Holmes

          Re: Gizmodo? Groklaw

          Yes, Groklaw were brilliant on the SCO case (SCO really didn't have a case and Groklaw showed it very well) and calling shenanigans on the OOXML standardisation process but I don't feel that they give balanced or entirely legally based views of the Android cases.

          I don't like Oracle but I do think that they had a very real case that the overall Java API was copyrightable, it seemed at the very least an open issue. Groklaw seemed to always focus on the simplest examples of API (such as a max function) where there really aren't many alternatives that make sense rather than the more complex and creative parts of the API.

          On the Samsung case there was a lot of deniable about the extent of Samsung's copying (inappropriate in my view) not just the legality (a tougher question) of it.

          1. Shagbag

            Re: Gizmodo? Groklaw

            For the record, I don't think any web site editor is without bias. Even El Reg.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Gizmodo? Groklaw

            If the Java API was copyrightable then every java application would be owned by Oracle along with anything that interacted with a java application. No if API's were copyrightable the computer world would be destroyed.

      2. iucidium
        Trollface

        Re: Gizmodo? Groklaw

        So you could say that Gizmondo *put on sunglasses* slavishly copied Graocklaw's article?

        YEEEEEEAH!

    5. Mr Temporary Handle

      Re: Ah yes, the tech blogs of the world are divided

      "I gather you don't agree...."

      It looks more like he decided to simply ignore the facts and make up his own story. In much the same way the jury decided to ignore the judge's instructions and make up their own decision based on god only knows what...

      Which is a pity because he does have some good points. All of which are probably going to be ignored by anyone who actually has the stomach to read that far.

      As for the 'judgement' itself...

      I hesitate to suggest racism but it's beginning to look as though our resident conspiracy nut might actually be right for once. 'Foreigners' cannot get a fair trial in the U.S.

      1. AntiPoser
        Meh

        Re: Ah yes, the tech blogs of the world are divided

        Interesting about fair play similar case Apple vs Samsung in Korea had a very different outcome with both sides being punished by the courts...so some merit maybe to the conspiracy nuts...

        1. Polkyb

          Re: Ah yes, the tech blogs of the world are divided

          Whereas Apple vs Samsung in the UK was found in favour of Samsung and Apple were told to say sorry on their UK website for bringing Samsungs name into disrepute.

          I wonder if the US jury were issued with pitch forks for their deliberations?

      2. markrb

        Re: Ah yes, the tech blogs of the world are divided

        It certainly is interesting that many courts of fair-minded people around the world have thrown Apple's case out. However, a US court, just down the lane from Apple's headquarters, have found in favor of the US company. I really didn't see that one coming :)

        This is definitely a victory for the American consumer. No doubt. Apple will absolutely NOT try to block sales of Android devices from other vendors. The US market will see increased competition and lower prices :)

      3. Test Man
        FAIL

        Re: Ah yes, the tech blogs of the world are divided

        "I hesitate to suggest racism but it's beginning to look as though our resident conspiracy nut might actually be right for once. 'Foreigners' cannot get a fair trial in the U.S."

        Please do hesitate. It's not racism, it's xenophobism. Get it right.

        1. Martin
          Headmaster

          Actually...

          ...it's xenophobia, not xenophobism.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ah yes, the tech blogs of the world are divided

        Which is ironic, because they are "all" foreigners in their own country, generally speaking ;)

      5. Wilseus
        Go

        'Foreigners' cannot get a fair trial in the U.S.

        Really? You think?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Sounds like this was written by an Apple fanbois

    This article is completly and totally misleading. Firstly the jury verdict is unlikely to stand appeal - the jury foreman ignored the judges instructions to the jury, and has tried to impose punitive (= punishment) fines when specifically told that no such fines could be applied. The jury foreman has also indicated in interviews that his main convern was maximising the value of a patent he holds. The jury also screwed up by attempting to fine Samsung for things that the Jury said they were not guilty.

    The only good thing about this is that the verdict is only applicable to USA. Other countries that have seen similar battles between Apple & Samsung have produced more realistic results - for example the "pox on both your houses" judgement in South Korea.

    1. iucidium
      Thumb Up

      Re: Sounds like this was written by an Apple fanbois

      And also, don't forget the Apple/HTC UK trial of recent months. The one where the had 'prior art' screamed at them. Yeah the one the pro-Apoke press tried to spin with 'the Galaxy isn't cool enough' yadda yadda.

    2. dssf

      Re: Sounds like this was written by an Apple fanbois-- Sammy's Revenge Coming?

      http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Desktops-and-Notebooks/Samsung-Series-5-7-AiOs-Understand-Hand-Gestures-From-3-Feet-Away-500591/

      Apple might be expecting a $1.05 beelions check, but Samsung might push apple into hysterics or histrionics and mouth-frothing pretty soon... 3-Foot distance hand gestures....

  3. Turtle

    No one. At all.

    No one is going to change their minds about this. Anyone who has made up their mind is not going to unmake and then remake it. Trust me on this. See the threads about the Apple-Samsung verdict, and ask yourself how many people condemning the verdict will rethink their opinions. Correct answer: none.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: No one. At all.

      What you mean to say is "No-one who holds the stance opposite to mine is coming to my side", which is being in close orbit around the Apple Nucleus.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No one. At all.

        Not nucleus, "core". As in "rotten-to-the".

  4. PeeedOff
    Happy

    As can be seen from this post, this could be the Best billion dollar ad-campaign Samsung ever had.

    Guy: "Wait, so what they're saying is, Samsung is the same as Apple?"

    Friend: "I know, right? Makes me think twice about how much I paid for my Mac Book"

    Guy: "Seriously"

    https://plus.google.com/u/0/114476892281222708332/posts/246srfbqg6G

    Not mention that the Jury hadn't a clue what they were even doing at this trial

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=2012082510525390

    1. Euchrid

      re: Best billion dollar ad-campaign Samsung ever had

      Speaking of ads, I believe that Apple has yet to comply with a UK court ruling that it has to place notices in the press that Samsung didn’t copy it. The wording of such notices could be rather interesting now.

    2. Paul Renault

      Can here to say "THIS!"

      From the Groklaw article - you'all really should read it:

      The foreman[Patent Holder Velvin Hogan - http://patents.justia.com/2008/07352953.html ] told a court representative that the jurors had reached a decision without needing the instructions.

      I wonder if Mr. Hogan's patented method was ever used to D/L video without permission...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "As can be seen from this post, this could be the Best billion dollar ad-campaign Samsung ever had"

      I agree, but, most of the dim wits buying Apple tech are not clever enough to realise this.

      Let them pay through the nose for rubbish.

  5. Anonymous Coward 101

    So we have a simple choice - no patent system, and the patent system as is? No third option presents itself?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, we have a third one.

      No patents on ideas, mathematics and software in general.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Yes, we have a third one.

        > No patents on ideas, mathematics and software in general.

        Or you go whole hog and allow patents on argumentations in court.

        Then get popcorn.

        If the popcorn is not based on a patented corn germline that is the only one allowed By Law as it contains The Latest Nutritive Supplement Lobbies For Mandatory Addition.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A third option

      would confuse the dumb masses.

    3. Simon 11

      Another choice would be to ban certain types of invention from patent protection and instead cover them under copyright. I think this method should be used for any software invention.

      Patent protection should also be removed from individual components (such as the rounded corners of a screen) and can only be applied to the end product. Policing this would then involve a degree of infringement (the active ingredient in that drug is x, your drug only contains x, it is 100% in breach of the patent - Or, your tablet has rounded corners on its screen and everything else is different, it is 1% in breach of the patent)

    4. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Patents are valuable if they protect something truly innovative. In the US, the USPTO does a particularly bad job of sifting out the duds, that is the core problem. The USPTO lets past many patently false claims, or things for which prior art clearly exists. They then assume that the patent holders will fight over it in court. In Europe, the situation is very different, and the investigation into prior art is much more thorough (as it should be). This prevents the need for fighting over the validity of the patent in court. That also means such well-researched patent offer better protection to inventors with smaller pockets to pay legal fees.

      So the patent system itself is not broken in my opinion. The the current implementation is bug ridden and badly in need of updates.

      1. Ian Yates
        Pint

        "The USPTO lets past many patently false claims"

        I see what you did there

        1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
          WTF?

          The USPTO is so fucked up that it has managed to issue the same "exercise a cat with a laser pointer" patent 5 times, have a look here for some other "useful" inventions.

          WTF, somebody has patented Dog nose smudges as art?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    patents = profits

    This is not good for the end user at all! cheap quick advancing tech is good fro the end user, business getting rich by paying over huge sums to each other and preventing new devices from working as well as they could by out-pricing them is NOT GOOD for the consumer at all..

    this is just another way for business to stifle the good inventions and to restrict and milk them as they please.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: patents = profits

      I think where you are wrong is for small inventors. Yes, when large multi-nationals produce something and patent it then it stops competition somewhat.

      But if you are a "man/woman in a garage" type inventor who wants to build a business from a good idea then the patent system is the way to protect your idea. If you don't protect it then a huge company will just copy you and you'll end up bust before you've even started.

      Watch Dragon's Den, the ideas that get investment always have patents or patent pending status, why? simple, because it ensures that nobody else can lift their idea until they have built up their business.

      1. Mark .

        Re: patents = profits

        That was the (unpatented) idea. The practice is that if you're an inventor in a garage, big company will just sue you out of the market because your revolutionary new device infringes on 10 trivial patents to do with shapes and UI behaviour.

        If a massive multinational company like Samsung can't protect themselves, what hope do individuals have? And even if they didn't have any patents to use back against you, do you have the deep enough pockets to sue Apple and win?

      2. Raumkraut

        Re: patents = profits

        But if you are a "man/woman in a garage" type inventor who wants to build a business from a good idea then the patent system is the way to protect your idea. If you don't protect it then a huge company will just copy you and you'll end up bust before you've even started.

        So this small inventor gets a patent, and a huge company infringes it. You inform them; they ignore you; you file suit. The company counter-sues for all of their patents which your product infringes, and you end up bust.

        If you're really, really lucky, and the infringing company cares about improving their product more than killing the competition, and have cash to throw around, they might buy you out.

        The only small "inventors" that generally thrive in such a climate as the US patent system are those who don't actually produce anything other than lawsuits - NPEs aka Patent Trolls.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: patents = profits

          Eerrrr. Patent trolls are the ANSWER to your hypothetical problem. By putting financial muscle behind a brilliant patent, they are able to bring the evil "huge company" to the table and negotiate a licence for the patent holder and a fee for themselves. If they are exceedingly well heeled, they might buy a patent outright and carry the case (and cost) themselves, netting the entire licence.

          Sound familiar?

          "Patent trolls" get a bad rap, like EVERY MIDDLE MAN on the planet. People hate brokers of every shape and colour, but accept willingly that things are better because of them. Fact.

          There are some dubious patent trolls, just as their are dubious real estate brokers. That is not a case for their extermination.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: patents = profits

        >Watch Dragon's Den, the ideas that get investment always have patents or patent pending status, why?

        Reggae Reggae is Open Source sauce [ingredients on the label] and seems to do OK - can't think of many other's that made money. Statistically there's as much chance of a Dragon going bust as there is the prog yielding a multi-million profit business.

        ...also (bearing in mind we probably only see the better ideas) there's vast amounts of stuff which is too stupid or obvious to patent on the show which also devalues the system.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Open Source sauce"

          Ingredients != Recipe. I believe there are lots of laws requiring food manufacturers to list their ingredients; it is the proportions and means of processing and combination which tend to remain trade secrets.

        2. GettinSadda
          Boffin

          Re: patents = profits

          ...also (bearing in mind we probably only see the better ideas) there's vast amounts of stuff which is too stupid or obvious to patent on the show which also devalues the system.

          I'm pretty sure that it works like X-Factor in that they show the top and bottom 2%. You laugh at the bottom 2% and hope the top 2% get through. You never see the middle 96% as they don't make good TV.

          1. John Bailey
            Happy

            Re: patents = profits

            You do on the American one. I saw some guy trying to market his revolutionary paper cups, and the toilet buddy. A pipe with a funnel to avoid bathroom aiming mishaps.

            Come to think of it.. I think it was all 94%ers.

      4. Ru
        Unhappy

        Re: patents = profits

        if you are a "man/woman in a garage" type inventor who wants to build a business from a good idea then the patent system is the way to protect your idea. If you don't protect it then a huge company will just copy you and you'll end up bust before you've even started

        If you are a man/woman in a garage (and I'm more of a shed fan, myself) and you patent something of interest to a big, powerful and rapacious company, you're not in a strong situation. Your best bet is to sell up to that company or its competitors, and hope you get a decent amount of money out of the transaction. The alternatives are either a) company steals your idea because they know they can use their legal team to reduce you to a smoking crater in the ground, or b) patent a whole bunch of things which are very closely related to your own idea, and which prevent any practical realisations of your idea ever being made. They can then offer you a pittance for your own patent, which has now been almost totally devalued.

        Oh yeah, c) a Chinese company blatantly copies your idea because they know you haven't got any means to stop them. But that would imply that your idea has mass market appeal, which is pretty unusual. Of course, it is quite possible that your idea is not valuable enough to steal or license, in which case you're probably okay, but down a few thousand in patent application and attorney fees. Awesome.

      5. Thorne

        Re: patents = profits

        "But if you are a "man/woman in a garage" type inventor who wants to build a business from a good idea then the patent system is the way to protect your idea. If you don't protect it then a huge company will just copy you and you'll end up bust before you've even started."

        Patents don't stop people from stealing your ideas. They are nothing but a blunt club. You still have to have the financial muscle to swing the club and the more financial muscle you have the harder you can hit. If you don't have the money, you can't defend your patent.

        Garage inventors usually have all their money in their invention so don't have the financial muscle to defend themselves from thieves or trolls and usually have to sell their soul to an investor/s if a court challange happens.

        The way to fix patents is to make them harder to get and easier to defend. Apple is famous for it's BS patents such as "Slide to unlock", "rectangle with rounded corners" and "two or more fingers on a touch screen". The problem is now everyone is making BS patents to troll everyone else. The only defence is to have your own BS to troll the troll (which doesn't work for true patent trolls cause they make nothing)

        Nobody wants true patents because that takes time and money in research when a simple broad concept is harder to get around and requires no research

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obviousness filter required

    The problem with patents is that too many are being granted in situations where the value of the patent monopoly is vastly in excess of the cost of developing the concept into a product.

    (this is aside from the question of functional patents vs. design patents (are those called "registered designs" in the UK?).

    In my own working experience (which includes getting a patent to my name), I've seen the firm I worked for

    a) pip a competitor at the post by getting a patent application in for the same concept, a day earlier (and it was a pretty obvious extension to the technology in question)

    b) get ripped off by the previous owners who sold the registered design for one of the product casings (basically a steel box on a pipe, classic form-follows-function) to some of their pals before selling the rest of the company to its new owners

    Where patents make sense are situation where the cost of developing the concept itself is high, or it takes a long time to get it to market - pharmaceuticals are the poster child here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obviousness filter required

      Original AC here - just to point out that the original purpose of the patent system is to encourage inventors to tell the world about new technologies (in exchange for a temporary monopoly) instead of keeping them as trade secrets - so that once the monopoly has expired that technology can be used by others.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obviousness filter required

      "Obvious - Easily perceived or understood."

      That can apply to so many things. It's not hard to understand many patents but they're perfectly valid.

      Take Microsoft's FAT32 long filenames tweak which they have a patent on, it seems obvious that you would store a longer version somewhere in the file header.

      But if it was so obvious why wasn't it done sooner? it's only obvious because after you learnt how it was done you had knowledge of how to do such a thing.

      This is why the "clean room" implementation method exists because once you have knowledge of the implementation it tends to "infect" your thought process on how something can be done. If you have no knowledge of the solution then when you implement it you tend to do it in a different way. This method was used to create a copy of the IBM PC BIOS without infringing on any copyright by IBM. However even this isn't a defence against patents.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_room_design

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: AC 15:24

        Microsoft's FAT32 patent is a very bad example, the reason no one else did it earlier was IT WOULD NOT WORK WITH WINDOWS until Microsoft did it their way.

        No one in their right mind would choose to do thing in the FAT32 way unless they have to work with MS software, and their oligopoly status means you have to.

        This is an example of why patents need reigned in - where you can't interoperate without infringing. The basic idea behind the patent system is good, the problems I have are those already stated, that the may be:

        too obvious

        too general

        not very inventive

        needed for interoperability

        too long lasting in areas (e.g. software) where 20-25 years represents many, many generations of a product.

      2. eulampios

        Micosoft's fat32 long filenames shit

        Take Microsoft's FAT32 long filenames tweak which they have a patent on, it seems obvious that you would store a longer version somewhere in the file header.

        Linus Torvalds' idea, he was using long before Microshit did it

      3. stanimir
        Windows

        Re: Obviousness filter required

        Take Microsoft's FAT32 long filenames tweak which they have a patent on, it seems obvious that you would store a longer version somewhere in the file header.

        But if it was so obvious why wasn't it done sooner? it's only obvious because after you learnt how it was done you had knowledge of how to do such a thing.

        It's applicable to a relatively badly designed file system - i.e. FAT12/16/etc. What's the point to store an extra long file name if the OS won't read it? Around 1992 ext2 supported 255 filename length.

        FAT32 was introduced win95/OSR2 (iirc) - i.e. 1996 - years after long names were available. How much more prior art do you need?

        Software patents should be abolished!

      4. John Sanders
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Obviousness filter required

        But if it was so obvious why wasn't it done sooner? it's only obvious because after you learnt how it was done you had knowledge of how to do such a thing.

        The fact that you may think that no one came with such a simple idea, (for example any single engineering package that I used on the late 80s, early 90s did embed a long name plus a description in files) scares me.

        Like the people who think that copying the general style of a device is a bad thing.

        I would like that Palm was alive and sue Apple for having a touch sensitive screen with rows of icons.

  8. Dazed and Confused

    Re: Patent System Is Broken

    Leaving aside the behaviour of the jury, I don't see how you can argue from this that the patent system is not fundamentally broken.

    I agree with the principle of patents. Lets be clear about this, I am not anti patent.

    But, the way the patent system appears to be working, most especially in the US, is a business or a bureaucracy.

    Lets take two of Apples patents as examples.

    1) a rectangle with rounded corners.

    Well people of have been making just about everything in this shape since the human being learned to make thing in a shape of their own choosing. Even for a mobile phone, just about all mobile phones have basically been a rounded off rectangle. How can someone have the temerity to even try and patent this?

    2) the bounce back.

    This is not an invention. This is modelling a normal physical behaviour. If you throw something at a surface it bounces. If you throw a scrolling menu at the end, why shouldn't it bounce. It isn't a new idea, it is simply an implementation of what life has taught us to expect.

    Computers have been used to model real world things for over 60 years. Even if a patent for the first case had been granted it would have long since expired.

    To be allowed to have a patent for each new example of "modelling a real world event" is simply ludicrous.

    But coming back to the reason why the patent system is broken, is that the issuer of patents, the patent office, is not acting as a filter on this nonsense. It is either acting as a business which charges a fee for each application and a further fee for the granting of each patent and therefore has a built in incentive to maximise the issuing and granting of patents. So "Some joker wants to patent a rounded off rectangle?" "Has he brought his cheque book?" K-ching thank you.

    Someone wants to patent bouncing balls on a computer. K-ching thank you.

    Someone wants to patent bouncing space ships in a computer game. K-ching thank you.

    Someone wants to patent bouncing menus on a computer. K-ching thank you.

    The alternative view is that the patent office is acting as a typical bureaucracy, which is practice tends to mean a job creation scheme for bureaucrats. The more patent applications, the more jobs for the boys.

    Either way, there is no sense being applied to the granting of patents. And because of this the patent system is now do more harm to innovation than good.

    I'll leave it to others to respond to the behaviour of this particular jury and why to the casual observer they appear to have been unbelievably rushed and one sided.

    (PS, there is no incentive for juries not to rush, I don't know how it works in the US, but over here the jury system is a way of fining honest members of society for doing no wrong, the faster you can get out the door, the faster they will let you get back to work)

    1. Patent my ass
      Pint

      Re: Patent System Is Broken

      What this case does indicate to me is how minimal, nefarious and whimsical are the genuine advancements in technology Apple's patents represent.

      If I create an app for iOS and Android, I would want the same shape icon on both for consistency. The icon shape is a 'trade mark' not a 'patent'. A smartphone with no apps is little more than a mobile phone with a cut down internet browser and mp3 player.

      What Apple need to remember is what happened to Microsoft. When MS began to dominate and bully, they got busted, and most importantly, offended their partners and customer base. As soon as Linux emerged, everyone was porting their applications.

      This ruling is only polarising the user base even more. Many of us don't want to see the recreation of another overly dominant vendor. Didn't the US Govt force Intel to share with AMD so that there was no monopoly? And there was seriously genuine expensive technology advancements there.

      1. toadwarrior

        Re: Patent System Is Broken

        But if android has over taken iphone in units then apple isn't a dominant player and in fact that shows good reason why they need to protect themselves. They spent money to develop something and countless android companies just swoop in, copy it, sell their item for less and over take apple.

        1. dajames Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: Patent System Is Broken

          They spent money to develop something and countless android companies just swoop in, copy it, sell their item for less and over take apple.

          That would be a good argument if it could be shown that people only buy Android phones because (and only because) they are "like iPhones" only cheaper. I personally, bought my Android phone for the things it does differently from the iPhone ... such as having a bigger screen, replaceable battery, SD card slot, and not requiring iTunes malware to sync. The iPhone is a nice shiny, but it doesn't score top marks in all categories.

        2. Windrose
          Unhappy

          Re: Patent System Is Broken

          "They spent money to develop something and countless android companies just swoop in, copy it, sell their item for less and over take apple."

          Ah, but that is the question, is it not?

          Did Apple spend money to develop something, or did they just rip off those that came before? For example - as was pointed out: touch sensitive screen with grid of icons representing applications? Palm, for one, did it before and better than Apple. No patent should be allowed.

          Besides, as a side note, it's impossible to mix up the iOS-only-app-icons-allowed with Android-widgets-and-apps-and-oh-myyyyy desktops.

    2. Raumkraut

      Re: Patent System Is Broken

      You're talking about design patents like they are utility patents; the two are rather different animals.

      AIUI Apple's grievances against Samsung are about Trade Dress (design patents, trademarks, service-marks, etc.), which boils down to a company attempting to piggy-back on another's success by cloning their product - rather than doing their own homework, and coming up with their own designs.

      1. jaduncan
        FAIL

        Re: Patent System Is Broken

        "AIUI Apple's grievances against Samsung are about Trade Dress (design patents, trademarks, service-marks, etc.), which boils down to a company attempting to piggy-back on another's success by cloning their product - rather than doing their own homework, and coming up with their own designs."

        Apart from their claims based on the utility patents, it's all non-utility patents and trade dress, yes.

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  10. Nev Silver badge

    Hogan's Law...?

    "If this were my patent, could I defend it?"

    1. The Original Cactus
      Coat

      Re: Hogan's Law...?

      "That's not a patent, this is a patent."

      Mine's the one with the VHS tape of Crocodile Dundee in the pocket.

  11. Whitter
    Flame

    WTF?

    I initially assumed this was an article with brash <sarcasm> tags.

    Alas not.

    1. John 104

      Re: WTF?

      @ Whitter

      No kidding. An amazingly Apple sided take on the ruling. This is in no way good for consumers. This is a loss for us all and just one more case of Apple bullying its way about in the market.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: WTF?

        No worries, they will simply be left further behind by the rest of the world. Not so good if you live near Apple HQ though. I mean, you might have to take a plane to get a decent handset ;)

  12. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Standards and Prior Art

    We are told that the jury in this case effectively ignored the issue of prior-art, leaving Apple open to claim that they "invented" the concept of rounded corners, among other things. A claim that is clearly ridiculous and just by itself throws the whole system into disrepute.

    The other point that is bad about software patents in general is that they act against standardisation. if every single manufacturer or software designed has to start every design from scratch, for fear that someone somewhere has patented the "for" loop, it means that users will have to learn a completely new set of operations for every product they buy. Whereas what users want is standard operations that work across the range of products from different suppliers. I don't want to have to learn a whole new set of pressy-swipey movements every time I decide to get a different tablet or Pc or phone - and I don't appreciate the extra difficulties that these software patents add to learning a new device. Imagine if every car had a different configuration of pedals and levers because someone had patented the steering wheel?

    1. PsychicMonkey
      Joke

      Re: Standards and Prior Art

      Apple have just patented "method for steering a vehicle", it describes a means for a vehicle direction to be altered based on user input.

      It may or may not have rounded corners...

      1. Michael Thibault

        @PsychicMonkey

        >It may or may not have rounded corners...

        It <emphasis>must</emphasis> have rounded corners: it's a patent for steering a vehicle--which means the implementation necessarily requires that the vehicle in question has changed course, or can be made to change course, through use of the method. Not having rounded corners means no succesful implementation, therefore no patent.

        Bzzzzt!

    2. QuinnDexter
      FAIL

      Re: Standards and Prior Art

      "Whereas what users want is standard operations that work across the range of products from different suppliers. I don't want to have to learn a whole new set of pressy-swipey movements every time I decide to get a different tablet or Pc or phone - and I don't appreciate the extra difficulties that these software patents add to learning a new device."

      Really? Is this missing the same <sarcasm> tags that I expected the main article to have?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        WTF?

        Re: Standards and Prior Art

        > Really? Is this missing the same <sarcasm> tags that I expected the main article to have?

        Jesus, what are you on about? That's a perfectly valid point.

        What is your point exactly?

    3. Philip Lewis
      IT Angle

      Re: Standards and Prior Art

      Re pedal placement etc. It was in fact the case previously that cars had different pedal placements and the steering wheel was one of many options.

      The current pedal configuration was first implemented by Cadillac, I forget the year. I suggest you try and drive a model T ford sometime, where the accelerator and advance (look that up) are on the steering column, the gear change is a pedal and the brakes operate on the gearbox not the wheels. Innovation was rife and patents a many back in the early days.

      Many very early motorised vehicles did not in fact have steering wheels, they had a tiller or often an horizonatal wheel with a handle attached (a common wheel system in the maritime world for closing hatches). Some pictures randomly here http://louderfunier.blogspot.dk/2009/02/cars-of-1800s.html

      Learn some history and engage brain.

    4. Ronny Cook
      WTF?

      Re: Standards and Prior Art

      Furthermore, even if your "clean room" development comes up with the concept of a "for" loop *independently*, the concept is still covered by a patent and you can be sued for damages.

      I don't think I have ever *met* a programmer who consults patents for ideas. Since it is the release of ideas that justifies the patent system, the justification for granting that monopoly on an idea is rather thin.

      This might be otherwise if the barrier for entry were higher. The core problem with the patent system as it now stands is that it is relatively easy to be granted a patent which is not genuinely innovative.

  13. Uffish
    Pint

    Rich companies' games.

    You have to hand it to that jury though - they certainly knew their duty.

    The beer is for you Mr Orlowski - thanks for the opportunity to comment.

  14. shaan7
    FAIL

    No innovation without patents? Seriously?

    So basically what this article suggests is that innovation cannot happen without patents. Thats so correct, there was no innovation before the patent law was introduced.

    Its just weird that people should only pay an engineer to design something new so that tomorrow they can use it to sue someone they dont like. You need to watch the video at http://patentabsurdity.com/ .

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Go

      Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

      If you read the history of it you'll find that innovation greatly accelerated after patents were introduced, as people finally found justification to put in the time and work.

      Invention then became a race, and as history has shown time and time over, nothing like a race to get minds and resources moving quickly towards a goal.

      1. Alan_Peery

        Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

        You'd also find that

        1) Agricultural surpluses had significantly grown, leading to more free time.

        2) Transport speeds and ranges had radically grown, both naval and land.

        3) The printing press had significantly spread the knowledge base

        4) A series of lingua franca had helped intercultural exchange.

        These things (largely communications) added together, and were kicking off a reaction *before* the patent system was rocking and rolling.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

          Yet none of those things really brought a comparable increase in pace of innovation as the following examples:

          * Steam engine

          * Telephone and telegraph

          * Mass electricity production/distribution and lightbulb

          all patented inventions.

          1. Grikath

            Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

            "Yet none of those things really brought a comparable increase in pace of innovation as the following examples:

            * Steam engine

            * Telephone and telegraph

            * Mass electricity production/distribution and lightbulb

            all patented inventions.

            ------------------------------------

            Indeed...

            However...., as opposed to the stuff Crapple ( and other patent bigwigs) have fielded in the way of "IP" patents and other cr*p, all those patents (and their derivatives) are about truly novel ideas for their time, had proper working models presented instead of beermat-art, and represented quite a bit of actual innovation instead of stringing some existing ideas together ( beermat-art optional.)

            I am of the full opinion that true invention and innovation needs to be protected, in a way that is both practical and evenhanded. Comparing the patents you quoted to the "novelties" petent applications nowadays, shows just how much the US patent system has deteriorated and been subverted from its' original inception.

          2. Bradley Strider

            Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

            The steam engine was indeed patented — and James Watt's patent retarded improvements on the engine for three decades. Read Boldrin and Levine's "Against Intellectual Monopoly".

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

              But without the patent system, Watt may not have been inclined to build on the concepts he helped test for Joseph Black, meaning the steam engine would never have been invented in the first, so the knockoffs would never have been inspired to...knock off.

            2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

              Re: Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

              "Against Intellectual Property" is exactly what I had in mind when I referred to the armchair warriors, who've never been in business, never invented anything, and live on tenure.

              There's even a chapter called "The Devil In Disney"

              I shit you not. It's beyond parody.

            3. Polkyb
              Happy

              Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

              James Watt *couldn't* have written the Steam Engine as there weren't any computers two centuries ago... He may have run around with a stick pretending to play Half-Life though. :)

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

            Didn't the patents on steam engine merely suffice to stifle development in that area?

          4. DarkPhoenix
            FAIL

            Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

            You know, bringing Thomas Edison into a patent argument is a bad idea; Edison was the first true patent troll. In fact, he did more to damage human innovation with his concern about patenting anything and everything than most people could ever imagine. Look up the history of alternating current (which, BTW, the entire world now uses as a standard) to see this sort of thing in action; the US intentionally held themselves back listening to Edison and his claims that his patented DC power system was safer (and helped line his own pockets, as his patent on the DC power system gave him a monopoly on it).

      2. Levente Szileszky
        WTF?

        Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

        "If you read the history of it you'll find that innovation greatly accelerated after patents were introduced, as people finally found justification to put in the time and work."

        Complete rubbish, only existed in Ayn Rand's la-la-land and her hopelessly confused, lunatic head.

        "Invention then became a race, and as history has shown time and time over, nothing like a race to get minds and resources moving quickly towards a goal."

        Someone desperately needs to finish at least a high school so he can avoid further public embarrassment of using the cheesisest-dumbest cliches...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

        At the same time as the Industrial Revolution was kicking off. Post Hoc != Propter Hoc.

    2. toadwarrior

      Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

      To be fair no patents make it much harder for the small guy to compete. A mega corporation will always be able to do what they do for less money.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

        > To be fair no patents make it much harder for the small guy to compete. A mega corporation will always be able to do what they do for less money.

        How is that exactly? If a mega corporation copies your patented idea, how exactly does the little guy find the money to drag them through the courts?

        Patent spats are notoriously expensive and well out of the reach of the little guy.

        1. tom dial Silver badge

          Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

          That's the beauty - or redeeming characteristic - of contingent fees for attorneys in the U. S. legal system. With a plausible claim you can get an attorney to work for you on the basis that he or she will be paid, if successful, a fraction of the award. This has both good and bad points.

      2. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

        Patent protection is out of the reach of small inventors. It's a ridiculously expensive, slow and and complex process, especially if you try to protect an invention across all significant territories.

        So patent law is fundamentally broken in the sense that it is not a level playing field. Big Corps have the resources to patent troll and fill the innovation space with noise. Smaller inventors get nowt, because the whole point of patent law - i.e. protected income from genuine innovation - is not available to them.

        It turns out to be remarkably easy to copy good ideas and/or keep them from market if you can afford lawyers who charge more than a grand an hour.

        As for Apple - they may have won the legal battle, but they're getting their arses kicked in the PR war. I know a number of keen iPhone owners who are disgusted by the direction Apple has taken and disappointed in the lack of innovation in iOS. So they're considering alternatives.

        Apple may or may not lock down the US - I wouldn't bet on a win at appeal - but the brand has been seriously damaged by this case.

      3. stanimir

        Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

        To be fair no patents make it much harder for the small guy to compete. A mega corporation will always be able to do what they do for less money.

        I take you don't work in the IT then.

        Baring the fact you never know what the feck has been registered as non-obvious patent, being small and registering anything doesn't mean you'd ever be able to lawyer up enough and survive long litigation battle. It just waste of a lot money in the lawyers pockets instead going to R&D.

      4. dajames Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

        To be fair no patents make it much harder for the small guy to compete.

        From your next sentence I'm guessing that you meant:

        "To be fair, no. Patents make it much harder for the small guy to compete."

        (Punctuation can make such a difference!)

    3. Christian Berger

      Re: No innovation without patents? Seriously?

      One should also notice that certain areas of the economy refuse to have patents. For example the financial sector doesn't patent things, or the (board-)game industry. Even the semiconductor industry refused to have copyrights for quite some time, knowing that having many "second" sources benefits everyone.

      I have to say I am the inventor of a patent, and all it did was demoralize me. Patents are worthless. If you are lucky you can use them as documentation for part of your product, only patent trolls make real money with patents. The really innovative patents don't actually make much money at all.

      I guess it is the same in other areas. Just look at mobile computing. That's a field that has essentially stopped innovating. What we have there today is even worse than what we had in the 1990s.

  15. john devoy

    Ok, according to the news samsung were found guilty of things including the pinch to zoom and screen bounce effect...both functions of googles android and nothing to do with samsung...how did that work?

    1. aj87
      WTF?

      Yes on both Pinch to zoom and double tap to zoom Samsung were found to be willfully infringing, I still want to know how Google aren't worried about that. All Android devices do that.

      How can Apple take double click to zoom, i.e. using mouse on google maps, or pretty much any GIS and patent the idea just because the input has turned to a touch screen? How is that GOOD for ME, Android or anyone but Apple and their lawyers?

      1. john 112

        oh no

        my program double clicks to zoom. I dont even have an iphone. who knew. ssh dont tell apple.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Screen bounce effect is NOT an Android feature. Samsung added that themselves.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        My sg2 doesnt screen bounce

        It draws some blue graded band... So thats two out of 3 ways of doing it, plus just stop.

    3. Dazed and Confused
      Facepalm

      Pinch to zoom

      is another example of doing something on a computer that is a common real world occurrence. Have you ever indicated to someone that you'd like something to be bigger by moving your fingers apart?

      Why do the jokers allow this sort of rubbish to be patented?

      (oh yes, they allow it for a fee, that's why)

  16. LPF

    Wow do people know that while it is up to the Judgte to provide instrustions to the jury, it is within the juries remit to decide how to access the evidence. The judes order is a guidline not a rule!

    The article was pretty fair, Samsung could have stuck wioth plain vanilla Andriod or gone down the microsoft path , and designed there own unqiue gui. Nope they went down the copy close enough to get the reflected gloy off the iPhone route. As the british judge stated , itsa less cooler version of the iPhone, thats pretty damning right there.

    Samsung have more than enough money and as they proved with the Tocco can design GUI's without reference to anyone else, they just descided to copy the leader and got burned!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wow do people know that while it is up to the Judgte to provide instrustions to the jury, it is within the juries remit to decide how to access the evidence. The judes order is a guidline not a rule!

      Having been on jury service, apparently not. Daily Mail type headlines seemed to have more influence than the evidence in the one I was involved in.

      1. Toothpick
        Meh

        @AC 15:23 - The Jury....

        The author writes "The jury must interpret the law from first principles".

        The jury's job was to interpret the evidence not the law. It is in the UK, I assume it's the same in the USA?

        1. Luther Blissett

          Judge Dredd and his Jury

          1. A judge's directions ("instructions") to a jury are not binding. That they are nevertheless forcing is recognized in law by the fact that they may in themselves be so erroneous or misdirecting as to render a verdict unsafe, and therefore be the basis for an appeal. In this case, an appeal on that basis is most unlikely.

          2. The jury's job is not to interpret the evidence, but to weigh it. It is the court's job to determine what the facts are, and to the extent any are ambiguous the court will make a 'finding of facts' in those situations to dispose the case. This is why appeals are made on points of law. But while the court establishes the facts (and those facts may include the fact that testimonies conflict), the jury establishes the verdict. In the UK, at least, it is not unknown for a jury not-guilty verdict to imply the law is an ass, the facts themselves being overwhelmingly in favour of a guily verdict.

  17. Schultz Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Apple patent win --> the wrong incentive for industry

    The fundamental aim of the patent system is to foster innovation by creating a commensurate reward for innovative work. If vague design patents are worth a billion and can be used to block a competitors access to a market, then we must expect more 'design innovation', i.e. firms patenting every possible man-machine interaction.

    This is bad, because it will divert resources from the harder (and actually costly) innovation of technology. Apple stands on the shoulder of giants who invented the screen technology, the processors, the transmission technology, sensors, and much more. The corresponding patents are worth a few dollars per device. Now they can extract 10s of dollars from competitors for reasonably trivial design patents that cost next to nothing to develop. (Contradict me, if you think that there is a big development cost for the 2-finger pinch).

    Lesson for the future: Ditch the hard work involving science and engineering, patent whatever you can come up with on your desk, and invest in good lawyers instead of engineers.

  18. Glostermeteor

    The reason why the verdict in this case is utterly ridiculous is because Apple did not invent the items that they hold patents for and that is why the system is broken. This is exactly why Apple has not had much success in European courts, because they take a much more common sense view of IP in that if it something completely new and distinctive then you can get a patent on it, but if it is just an iteration or a copy of something that has been done before then the patent cannot be granted in the first place. The point is that Apple should not have been able to get patents on these pretty common place ideas in the first place. Square touch screens with rounded icons, and pinch to zoom existed long before the iPhone/iPad or Android even existed so why should these tech giants be allowed to own it? Next Apple will be trying to get a royalty for every square electronic device in your home. I sincerely hope that a non partisan non-nationalistic court finally sees common sense and strikes down these ridiculous patents once and for all. One last fact, the iPhone/iPad could never have existed without the World Wide Web, which was invented by Tim Berners Lee, Tim did the honourable thing and gave his invention away for free, Apple and Samsung should both be reminded of this and stop destroying competition through childish courtroom battles

    1. QuinnDexter

      You almost had a low level of agreement right up unitl your "one last fact". Tim Berners Lee (and his team) are much smaller than the R&D departments of Apple and Samsung. He came up with an idea and a solution, and the solution to that involved many different pieces of hardware which would have had other patents for other companies involved, and you can bet the majority of them would not give their patents away for free. In this instance, an individual with an idea that cost him probably some time, but not much money giving it away for free and large conglomerates protecting their IP into which they had ploughed millions cannot be compared. Perhaps you only discovered TBL when he was on the Olympic opening ceremony or something...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      > One last fact, the iPhone/iPad could never have existed without the World Wide Web, which was invented by Tim Berners Lee,

      You do know that Tim-Berners Lee created his first Web browser in part thanks to NeXT's powerful API for developing WYSIWYG applications (which now lives on in OSX and iOS)?

      "1990 CERN: A Joint proposal for a hypertext system is presented to the management.

      Mike Sendall buys a NeXT cube for evaluation, and gives it to Tim. Tim's prototype implementation on NeXTStep is made in the space of a few months, thanks to the qualities of the NeXTStep software development system. This prototype offers WYSIWYG browsing/authoring! Current Web browsers used in "surfing the Internet" are mere passive windows, depriving the user of the possibility to contribute."

      1. John 104
        Thumb Down

        Don't be an ass. WYSIWYG has been around for decades and is not exclusive or magically brought to us by the wonders of OSX/iOS.

        1. Thorne

          "Don't be an ass. WYSIWYG has been around for decades and is not exclusive or magically brought to us by the wonders of OSX/iOS."

          Slide bolts have been around for thousands of years yet Apple still have it patented. You have an existing idea and an existing device and you simply patent the idea of putting the two together

    3. John 104

      Next Apple will be trying to get a royalty for every square electronic device in your home.

      This is a pointed statement here in the states. If the ruling stands, then it will be used for case law. At that point, Apple could legitimately sue or demand royalty payment from any manufacturer of electronics for putting round corners on anything. TV, Computer, Laptop, microwave, you name it. This ruling MUST NOT STAND just for that reason alone.

    4. Pedigree-Pete
      Thumb Up

      Tim Berners Lee

      Sir Tim Berners Lee to us mortals.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have rarely seen such concentrated bollocks on El Reg. The patent system is broken: It stifles innovation; patents are granted for the fucking obvious ("the use of gravity for staying on the floor" type obvious); and for 'innovations' for which there is plenty of prior art. The patent system in it's current state severely curtails the small player (where much of the world's innovation originates).

    Let's take the "rectangle with rounded corners" for a phone. Rectangles are the easiest to work with. You need to round the corners off to stop the phone shredding your pockets. What shape are you seriously going to use when making a phone? Or the iPad...looks (as has been pointed out before) almost exactly like the slates in 2001 (filmed in 1968). Quite often function dictates form to a large extent and being able to patent the fucking obvious is causing an unbelievable amount of damage to our society.

    Defending the indefensible again. I assume you're trolling, Andrew.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Bent but not broken

      No, sir.

      I can think of 50 things wrong with the patent system - maybe I should write about the first 20 improvements we need to make next. There is a lot that needs to be done - some of it quite urgent.

      But the armchair "patent system is broken beyond repair" position doesn't stand up. You have to quantify the damage ("cost to society") and then demonstrate that this is greater than the innovation the IP system produces, and the value it unlocks. Will our kids be better off? How?

      I am keen to hear alternatives that fulfill those criteria - but I'm sorry, but all I hear is whining.

      1. Glostermeteor

        Re: Bent but not broken

        Andrew, what you are essentially advocating is a world where if you are rich enough and powerful enough to get a patent granted you can then charge a royalty for the use of that service, irrespective of whether you actually invented that service or not. I think what most people who are against your argument are saying is that it is the methodology behind how patents are granted which is flawed, as opposed to the concept of a patent.

        If I truly am the first to invent a system or idea then I think everyone here would advocate a patent being granted to me, but if I just use the ideas of others (i.e. stand on the shoulders of giants) and then tweak those ideas to my own ends am I really inventing anything new?

        Apple should never have been granted the patents that they have in the first place and that is the point I think a lot of us are making, because the ideas behind those patents existed long before the iPhone/iPad were in existence

        1. jonathan 11
          FAIL

          Re: cheap and relatively easy

          Stop at the first sentence...

          You do not have to be rich or powerful to get a patent approved. Patent filing does take a little paperwork but mostly that consists of describing your invention in detail. It is cheap to file, less cheap if you use a lawyer's assistance but still no barier to getting a patent. Actually getting the patent takes a while because of the backlog but everyone (corps and natural persons) are in the same queues.

          If you are the first then file a patent or shut up about it.

          If you start with someone else's work and invent something new on top of that then patent it. The world thanks you for your effort and it a lot of people like it you'll make a fortune. If it sucks then not so much but hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

          More venturing, less complaining.

          Fail, because te premise of your argument is broken.

          1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

            Re: cheap and relatively easy

            "You do not have to be rich or powerful to get a patent approved. Patent filing does take a little paperwork but mostly that consists of describing your invention in detail. It is cheap to file, less cheap if you use a lawyer's assistance but still no barier to getting a patent. Actually getting the patent takes a while because of the backlog but everyone (corps and natural persons) are in the same queues."

            You are, of course, correct. Filing a patent is realtively cheap.

            However, the patent means nothing unless you defend it. THAT is the expensive part. If you do not defend it, your patent is a pretty piece of paper you can hang on the wall. If you do defend it against a big multinational, you'd better have some serious cash at your disposal or you could very well go bust before you even get to court.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: cheap and relatively easy @jonathan 11

            It's not my patent for my innovation that is the problem. It's the colossal weight of everybody else's patent portfolios (2011 data):

            http://ificlaims.com/index.php?page=misc_Top_50_2011

            1 6180 International Business Machines Corp United States

            2 4894 Samsung Electronics Co Ltd KR Korea

            3 2821 Canon K K JP Japan

            4 2559 Panasonic Corp JP Japan

            5 2483 Toshiba Corp JP Japan

            As an independent inventor, I have to wade through 18,937 patents from the top 5 patent-holding companies alone. With Apple at #39 (676 patents) there are still some dangerous players all the way down the list. OF COURSE this is stifling innovation for people who can't necessarily afford the resources to spend all that time/money checking whether you're infringing. You need thousands of (essentially non-productive) dollars before you make your first cent.

            And many of these patents will be patenting the bloody obvious. Let's (sorry about this; but it really is the example that says it all) go back to the "rectangle with rounded corners" again. A phone. Screens are rectangle, so that's going to define the final shape of your phone. You're going to round off the corners a bit because nobody wants a corner in the testicle whenever you sit down and also your pockets will last longer.

            You could, of course, make an oval, hexagon or triangle screen but -aside from the horrific cost of tooling up a factory to produce them- they are sub-optimal shapes for screens as compared to the rectangle and everything but the oval (which would be expensive to produce) would not sit comfortably in the hand. A rectangle is simply the best choice for the job.

            All these tablets...they are essentially slates with modern electronics replacing the blackboard...a form factor that has been around a while. Rectangle with rounded corners. Throwing a touchscreen in there is an obvious next step as we now have touch-screen surfaces and the electronics to back them up which is clearly more satisfying and useful than blackboard and chalk. The idea has been around in exactly that form since science-fiction was invented and there's video of identical objects since 1968 at least.

          3. Schultz Silver badge
            Stop

            Cheap and relatively easy?

            To file a patent may be cheap and easy. To make money off a patent is not.

            If you have a patent but no major resources to enforce it, the big companies can and will safely ignore your patent. You do not have the financial means and the required judicial expertise to defend your patent in court. If you actually manage to defend your patent against all odds -- and against the focused expertise of top lawyers and well-compensated experts -- the damages will be trivial and they might throw you some peanuts. More plausibly, they'll just appeal and find better experts to rubbish your patent. Worst case, they'll need find a way around your badly worded patent, because you were too cheap to hire a top patent lawyer.

          4. Thorne

            Re: cheap and relatively easy

            "You do not have to be rich or powerful to get a patent approved. Patent filing does take a little paperwork but mostly that consists of describing your invention in detail. It is cheap to file, less cheap if you use a lawyer's assistance but still no barier to getting a patent. Actually getting the patent takes a while because of the backlog but everyone (corps and natural persons) are in the same queues."

            Cheap? When are patents cheap? I have a couple and it's non stop filing fees for every damn country and you have to keep paying else you lose the patent and every cent you spent so far. Patents are anything but cheap.

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Bent but not broken

          "If I truly am the first to invent a system or idea then I think everyone here would advocate a patent being granted to me, but if I just use the ideas of others (i.e. stand on the shoulders of giants) and then tweak those ideas to my own ends am I really inventing anything new?"

          The trouble is that, until you get back to antiquity, EVERY invention draws on SOME OTHER invention in some way or form. Even some of the simplest inventions like the Gem Paper Clip and the modern staple wouldn't have been possible without other inventions (in this case, mass-production machines to produce metal wire). IOW, EVERY inventor stands on the shoulder of at least one giant unless that inventor took their inspiration from nature (and even then you're standing on Mother Nature's shoulders).

          When was the last time someone invented and patented a device COMPLETELY from scratch, including the things used to build it? And then showed the proof of his innovation?

      2. Mark .

        Re: Bent but not broken

        Straw man anyone?

        I don't think anyone is saying the system is impossible to fix. The comment above didn't say that, nor was that the argument in your article.

        Indeed, we could think of plenty of ways to repair the system. For starters, don't grant patents on things like "look" (which should be a trademark issue), especially on something as basic as rounded rectangles. Or don't allow patents on UI behaviour.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bent but not broken

          Or don't allow patents on what amounts to merely window-dressing on top of the hard work that component developers have done ;)

      3. Brian Morrison
        Go

        Re: Bent but not broken

        One thing that would help is if patents were only granted after public consultation amongst interested parties, so the patent would still apply from the date of application but it would only be granted if a public process of finding prior art had been completed.

        This is the thing I don't agree with, that Apple can rely on patents where the existence of prior art is suspected, or known, but have still been granted.

        Now I suspect that this will mean that the patent offices and examiners will need to run things rather differently, but isn't that the point?

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bent but not broken

        I see that patents should serve a function - that of protecting innovation for a specific time in order for the innovator to make enough money to be worth innovating in the first place.

        The system as it currently stands is thoroughly broken, however, because patents are being granted when they shouldn't be. It's that simple. Patents are being granted that:

        * Ignore prior art

        * Are stating the bloody obvious

        * Are ignoring the fact that function to some extent determines form.

        As a result; tactically it's best to patent the fuck out of anything you can think of...the more obvious and universal you can make that patent the better it 'works' for you and the wider the range of people you can sue. This limits the field to people with plenty of money and time (or more money to pay for people's time). Smaller players just cannot compete with Mega-Globalco's patent portfolio and that is stifling innovation.

        Let's say I want to make a phone. I have a couple of ideas that makes this phone unique. My competition would be Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Nokia and a host of others. Each and every one of those players will have something to fuck me up; and more probably several somethings. This will -at the very best- increase my costs to manufacture the phones and will very probably make the whole idea uneconomic. Worse yet; probably none of these patents will contain anything new or innovative whatsoever.

        That's why the system is broken. Patents are being granted that shouldn't be. Effectively, you're limiting the pool to organisations with serious sums to spend and carving the 99% out of the game.

        1. jonathan 11
          Happy

          Re: Your straw man is on fire

          "Let's say I want to make a phone. I have a couple of ideas that makes this phone unique."

          If this is the case then you do three things:

          1) File Utility patent applications for the things that make your phone unique. Don't file a patent for "a phone" just for the one or more features individually that are *your* inventions. If you do not have any inventions, you just used existing inventions rearranged into a new design then skip this step.

          2) File a Design patent for your unique phone. This protects your phone design (the way all the components come together) from someone else making a direct copy or a copy that is so close it would be easily confused. File this patent *even if* you also have utility patents pending also.

          3) License the IP for all the utility features used in your unique phone that you did not invent. There will be a lot of them and it will take a few percent off of your margin but wil not slow you down in going to market. Much of the licensing will come bundled into the components and/or will be FRAND; i.e. the chipset will come with licensing (or directions on where to go to get it), the OS will come with licensing (in fact usually you "license it" rather than purchase it), etc.

          Presto, you are now in business with a unique and hopefuly saleable product that is protected from being copied!

      5. Captain Underpants
        Meh

        Re: Bent but not broken

        This post seems to put you at odds with your own original article.

        Here you acknowledge that there are many problems with the patent system (and let's be clear - when complaints are made about "the" patent system, most often they apply specifically to the USPTO and its fairly lenient, shall we say, standards for checking that something qualifies as an invention, that there is no prior art, and that it involves a non-obvious step involved in the process of creating the invention). Yet the article seems predicated on the idea that there are only two options available: the current, seriously flawed system that mainly rewards people who submit patent applications (regardless of whether they've actually done any work to either invent a workable concept around the patent's material, or put any effort into bringing a product to market based upon it) or no patents whatsoever (where people will likely still be willing to invent stuff - see every piece of open-source software, freely distributed IP eg webcomics, and so forth - but at a substantially reduced rate as the legal protections allowing straightfward economic reward mechanisms to function disappear).

        Surely the third option (a sane, better-implemented patent system) still exists and is still the goal?

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Andrew Orlowski - Re: Bent but not broken

        Mr. Orlowski, are you talking about Mr. Tim Cook's children future or about the children of regular consumers who will be forced to pay premium prices because of lack on competition ?

        Granting a monopoly to Apple can't be good for everyone that's for sure. Besides that, if you could look at the rest of the world spared from this patent madness, they are doing (and innovating) just fine. Also, according to you, Ford should prevent other companies from copying their cars, allowing others to build only three wheels vehicles with a square steering wheel. Oh, what's that you say ? Ford copied it from Daimler ?

        As for that Mr. Hogan you admire so much, well he was dumb in performing his duty. At least he could have kept his mouth shut instead bragging about how he decided to toss aside the prior art just because it was bogging them down. Combine this with the judge preventing Samsung to show the jury evidence of prior art and all this trial was for nothing.

        Oh, and between me and you, granting a patent for a square with rounded corners or for highlighting words in a text on a screen actually is a proof that the patent system is broken beyond repair. It is however excellent for the IPR and patent lawyers and their children too.

      7. Comments are attributed to your handle
        Stop

        Re: Bent but not broken

        This is the classic, "If you don't have a detailed solution to the problem, then you aren't qualified to complain about it" escape hatch.

      8. IR
        WTF?

        Re: Bent but not broken

        ""But the armchair "patent system is broken beyond repair" position doesn't stand up. ""

        Beyond repair? I don't think that a single comment on here has said that, and those out on the internet who have done so are minor in all ways. Broken, yes. Beyond repair, certainly not.

        ""You have to quantify the damage ("cost to society") and then demonstrate that this is greater than the innovation the IP system produces, and the value it unlocks. Will our kids be better off? How?

        I am keen to hear alternatives that fulfill those criteria - but I'm sorry, but all I hear is whining.""

        So in order to complain about something at all, you must produce a detailed description of the faults, how to change them and detailed analysis on how those changes will affect society hereafter? Such a shame you don't follow your own advice. You still seem hung up on current system vs no system at all.

        So many people have effectively said "The US system is broken, the European system is better", which does pretty much everything you ask in a single comparison from its own evidence.

      9. John 104

        Re: Bent but not broken

        @ Andrew

        OK. Here is a real "cost to society". If this ruling stands, Samsung has to pay 1.2 BILLION dollars(US) to Apple. Do you honestly think that they aren't going to pass this on to consumers by way of higher price tags for their devices? Or perhaps they will just not spend so much to develop features for their kit. Or both. That affects anyone who might consider buying their product. You can say that they have deep pockets all you want, but I guarantee you that no one at Samsung is just shrugging this off and saying to themselvs, "oh, well, no worries. We have lots of money and this is just a small percentage."

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          @ John104:

          Or perhaps Samsung will clock the message that copying Apple is lame, but coming up with a much better user interface that (say) helps people communicate better, can unlock value and create profits.

          A case in point: the current iPhone will probably be my last - and the clunky iOS UI has a lot to do with that decision. It's now years behind the competition in terms of convenience and ease of use. If Apple wants to guard this, then hell, let it.

          Patents simply force rivals to innovate. That's the point. The system is working.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @ John104:

            "Patents simply force rivals to innovate. That's the point. The system is working."

            No. No they don't; no it really isn't and no it doesn't.

            It's a rigged system. If you don't have a shitload of money then you can't play. And that's wrong. Anyone can have ideas.

      10. Levente Szileszky
        FAIL

        Re: Bent but not broken

        "You have to quantify the damage ("cost to society") and then demonstrate that this is greater than the innovation the IP system produces, and the value it unlocks. "

        Excuse me but we DID show repeatedly how this utter PoS patent system we have now stifles innovation, essentially limits competition and blocks new inventors from joining the fray - it's your turn to show otherwise, dear, not us to keep explaining you the same thing over and over again, let alone the utterly ridiculous req ...

        "I am keen to hear alternatives that fulfill those criteria - but I'm sorry, but all I hear is whining."

        I am willing to listen if you can make ONE SINGLE meaningful argument but all I hear is the same empty cliches, laughable nonsense that Apple et al love to throw out when competition endangers their profit margins.

  20. Frederic Bloggs
    Boffin

    I'm confused

    What I can't get my head around is that there is US case law that says that a UI is not patentable, the functionality of that UI can be copied (M$ v Apple many years ago). There was the recent Java bust up between Google and Oracle which ruled that a clean room reimplementation is not copying. All Samsung products are clearly marked as Samsung and not Apple products and run different operating systems anyway - I notice that Apple did not do Samsung for "passing off". They don't even work alike, the UIs are not the same (albeit some of the differences are small).

    Help me out here someone.

  21. Levente Szileszky
    Stop

    Oh noes...

    ...our man O is back in his bubble where patents are a must, failing jury system is better than not having them, everybody is a freetard etc. Too bad, I started to like his sane posts recently.

    Meanwhile here, in the real world, I have yet to met a single person who does not think the verdict is downright ridiculous and the real sign of a broken system where Apple, the biggest Chinese goods-relabeling company of the world, can openly use a classic chauvinistic 'American invention' BS after openly ripped of plenty of existing design and gets a billion dollar verdict against a Korean relabeling discount outlet who already had the same Galaxy tablet design in the works more than a year before the first iPad was launched...

    ...a parody of a justice system with completely clueless idiots in the jury, that is.

    1. Kevin 6

      Re: Oh noes...

      Actually IMO I think the jury foreman was a cunning person

      If you read the patent he owns it's basically is the patent for a DVR that was filed a few years after things like TIVO started coming out.

      So he probably figured he can't bash apple for what he did himself, and probably figured the verdict can help him out in the future if he sues a company.

      Hell he said himself "If this were my patent," "could I defend it?" in theory if this judgement stands he possibly could.

  22. SuedePflow

    This article sucks!

    The brunt of the lawsuit was regarding the "look and feel", not the OS. This anti-android article seems to only attack the Android OS. You say Android "replicates the experience" of IOS. I say it dominates IOS. Android offers all of the benefits of IOS with none of the shortcomings. Numbers don't lie - Android is the most used OS on the market by a long shot. Recognize.

    Thanks God for Samsung and Android and the like. I wouldn't own a cell phone if the iFail was my only option.

  23. Steve Knox
    Facepalm

    Andrew, you're your own worst enemy

    Nobody put a metaphorical gun to Samsung's head and required the South Korean giant to look to Apple's user interface as a template ... Samsung could have examined what users are actually doing

    A very good point, and one which I happen to agree with. But we know that others don't, so let's see how you support this argument:

    ...Others have seized the opportunity. Microsoft is one. The Windows Phone Not-Metro UI – built around hubs and live tiles – may be flawed, but it demonstrates the merit of thinking about user requirements rather than simply trying to replicate the experience. RIM has also tried to focus on the user interface as a workflow in BlackBerry 10...

    So to support your argument that looking to users rather than the current UI frontrunner can be a better way to design a UI, you point to: the two companies currently fighting each other for the irrelevance crown in the smartphone market. Was no better example available? How about BlackBerry 10 years ago? Or Nokia back when it actually mattered? Or how about *gasp* Apple itself with the first iPhone?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Andrew, you're your own worst enemy

      Or, you could look at Google, who took pains to ensure that vanilla Android is non-infringing. It's the Samsung special sauce that landed them in court.

      Oh, and for all the rounded corners folk - that particular element was chucked out by the jury.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Andrew, you're your own worst enemy

        "Oh, and for all the rounded corners folk - that particular element was chucked out by the jury."

        Maybe, but IIRC I heard the Samsung lawyers whining after the verdict about Apple and this particular aspect of the case. Really, Samsung's lawyers are pathetic. One of the few points they won, and they are still using it as their grandstanding poster child. Fucking pathetic is all I can say.

        As for trying to get Apple via the "exhausted" patents route was IMHO culpable and bordering on terminally moronic.

        Samsung should start their in house cleanup by engaging a new firm of attorneys.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Andrew, you're your own worst enemy

      So copy the successful company, or innovate badly are the only options you propose as existing?

    3. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Steve, you're your own worst enemy

      SK: As I said in the article above, I think the iOS user interface has gotten unwieldy and is a general PITA to use.

      If Apple wants to throw good money around protecting this, ahem "crown jewels" that it thinks it has - then why don't we let it? Rivals are forced to innovate, and Apple gets manacled to a simplistic UI. Both Apple and rivals will be forced to compete elsewhere in the value chain.

      It's a win-win.

      I think what you're saying (and it's a fair point) is that Apple's rivals haven't got any traction from doing it differently yet. That's certainly true for WP. I'd just one word to that: 'yet'.

      1. Neil Greatorex

        @ Andrew - Re: Steve, you're your own worst enemy

        You've been bigging up Windows Phone Operating System 8, Metro, on Nokia for a goodly while now.

        In this article, ostensibly about Apple=Samsung, you manage to get in an advert.

        In light of Oracle et. al. disclosures re. paid <cough>consultancy </cough> work, anything you feel you want to declare?

        Just arse-king like.

  24. Fading Silver badge
    Trollface

    What a shocker.

    American jury finds for American company.

    Pope declared Catholic, bears defecate in wooded areas

    - film at eleven.

    1. Neil Greatorex
      Happy

      @ Fading

      Re. Ursine mammals defecating in arboreal environments, question:

      Do Bears shit in front of the tree, or behind?

      Oh, and how can you tell the front of a tree from the back?

      1. Thorne

        Re: @ Fading

        "Do Bears shit in front of the tree, or behind?"

        Bears shit where ever they like and then eat the hiker with the camera

      2. Marcelo Rodrigues
        Happy

        Re: @ Fading

        Not sure, never caught one in the act (I shit You not).

        As for the front/behind, it's easy:

        The front is the side which is opposed to the behind! :)

  25. ItsNotMe
    Pint

    Should be an interesting appeal

    Being that the Jury Foreman had a 35-year engineering career in hard-drive technology (Memorex, Storage Technology, Digital Equipment), and a U.S. patent in his name, and the other jurors had no such experience, it could be that he overly influenced the others into seeing HIS point of view.

    I am NOT saying Samsung aren't guilty of copying from Apple...thank goodness Apple have never done anything like that...Steve Jobs: "Good artists copy great artists steal" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW0DUg63lqU)...but it seems very possible that Samsung can prove partiality/prejudice/undue influence on Mr. Hogan's part, towards the other members of the jury.

  26. Rabbit80
    WTF?

    Confused

    I read this thinking "This is some awesome satire" and waiting for a punchline or some obvious joke to creep in.

    Then it dawned on me that it was for real. Ouch.

  27. Jay Holmes
    WTF?

    Which planet are you on??

    You honestly believe that the jury did its job correctly??? I suggest you go back and have a look at how much information they had to go over and how little time it took them! They ignored the judges instructions, whether they were orders or guidelines is debateable else where. They were instructed to only award damages not punitive damages, but they did anyway.

    The juries foreman even said so in an interview (and isnt he turning into the right little media darling??) afterwards about how they wanted to punish Samsung.

    What I want someone to do is make a video of the iPhone and which ever Samsung phone they claim is a copy. I would like to see them side by side and I would want to the Samsung phone doing whatever it is that Apple claims has been copied. Then I would like to see the prior art and all other touch screen phones that came before it, just to show the iPhone isnt the first in class!!

    Finally I want to show an iPhone and a Samsung phone to a couple of 1000 people and the ones that cannot tell the difference should get a slap for being stupid!! (imho of course!!)

  28. kororas
    WTF?

    Why the Apple-Samsung verdict is GOOD for YOU, your KIDS and TECH

    No its not, wtf are you smoking?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why the Apple-Samsung verdict is GOOD for YOU, your KIDS and TECH

      Maybe the judge in the case should ask him.

    2. WatAWorld

      Re: Why the Apple-Samsung verdict is GOOD for YOU, your KIDS and TECH

      This decision is only good for lawyers.

      It will make technology as expensive, slow and cumbersome as the legal system.

  29. SirDigalot

    Patents were not much liked in the olden days either

    If a certain Mr. T. Jefferson had anythign to say about the matter...

    That said, he really did not seem to like much of anything really the cranky old sod, still I liked his point of view...

  30. TechUK

    The jury were not judging the validity of the patents

    The author is incorrect/ The jury was judging whether or not patents had been infringed.

    This is like a court deciding on whether or not a driver has exceeded a speed limit. Whether the speed limit is right or wrong was not the remit of the court - the validity of the patents will be tested elsewhere.

    I am all for intellectual copyright on truly innovative and original works with no "prior art". But when a company is granted a patent for a "bounce", a "sliding lock" or a rectangular shape (with or without curved corners) something IS serioulsy wrong.

    Innovative drugs, the transistor junction, light emitting diodes, the Laser, Compact discs etc. ARE the sorts of things that patents ARE designed to protect, not things like a "bounce" that sea waves, ripples on a pool and railway buffers have been doing for years. "Slide to unlock" - my outside tollet had that before Steve Jobs was even born.

    1. WatAWorld

      Re: The jury were not judging the validity of the patents

      Actually the jury can decide the patents are invalid. They can decide that law is invalid too.

      As with the UK and Canada, the USA does have the concept of jury nullification.

  31. toadwarrior

    the article is right

    I can't help but feel the article is written in such a way to troll the commentards given it's obvious many of them are irrational fandroids.

    But the article is correct. The problem though is that when the patent system was devised the lifecycle of items were not nearly as short, you didn't have multi-billion dollar corportations and far too many lawyers.

    One thing I'd like to see is that patents can not be tranferable. That will kill off patent trolls which is a larger threat to the small guy than apple (or samsung).

    There should be an easiesr system for the public to repsond to patent applications through the website with prior art. But it should require enough information from them that if they're just being a dickhead fanboy they can then be punished for wasting time.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Law is not a Science - and that's a good thing

    We are humans, most of our characteristics can't be modelled by equations, neither can our social rules or their application.

    Many of the comments here focus on individual "issues" they have with this case, but in doing so they coveniently miss the full picture, which is that no one but the most dedicated Samsung fan would say a phone like the Galaxy S isn't a outright copy of the iPhone.

    Many also try to dismiss the copying by saying it's "just rounded corners", but again it's a lot more than that. Here's a helpful chart of the claims Again you have to look at the whole picture.

    No doubt Samsung knew this: Google told them so, even their own designers warned them. But Samsung still went ahead because they knew that design was what people really wanted, Apple - Samsung's Electronics biggest single customer - spent years and many millions perfecting it.

    However Samsung also knew that by the time the court dust had settled they would have sold millions of phones that would give them a shot at becoming nr 1. Guess what, It worked. I think Samsung just didn't anticipate the damages amount, but I don't believe for one second they didn't expect to taken to court. They almost begged for it, by teasing Apple with ever more daring copycats (eg Samsung Stores, complete with blue-shirted "geniuses")

    But that's short-term thinking. It's not sustainable, a company can't just constantly out-innovate everyone else all the time. Technology has a limit, do people need ever larger, higher res screens? Multiple core CPUs and desktop class GPUs on phone? Continuing on the old path would only lead to a race to the bottom and a stagnant product line. Fresh development needs time to recoup the previous R&D costs.

    In the end not even Samsung would win, since the next lower cost copycat will soon move in and eat into their sales.

    Which leads us to another interesting observation: had the jury dismissed Apple's claims, other companies - not many have Samsung's financial capacity to take on Apple - would be encouraged to start copying Apple as well, putting Samsung's current position at risk. This way Samsung can move on to more creative products, while showing potential competitors that samsu-ing their way into the market is not an option for most of them.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Law is not a Science - and that's a good thing

      "But that's short-term thinking. It's not sustainable, a company can't just constantly out-innovate everyone else all the time. Technology has a limit, do people need ever larger, higher res screens? Multiple core CPUs and desktop class GPUs on phone? Continuing on the old path would only lead to a race to the bottom and a stagnant product line. Fresh development needs time to recoup the previous R&D costs."

      Don't be so sure. Constraint can make people do some strange but otherwise brilliant things. Consider all the hoop-jumping some programmers had to go through in the 1980s because computers had only 64K of memory to address--if you were lucky. Yet some of the products of yesteryear seriously had people scratching their heads and going, "How did they do THAT?" So, if battery constraints become an issue, barring another battery innovation (which may still happen), coders will simply go back to the old school and start coding tighter, closer to metal, and more efficiently. Plus there's also the race to the bottom: to try and get the same performance out of a phone but for less.

  33. Simon Lyon

    Some good may come from this

    The idiotic statements by the jury foreman ("We didn't need to read the jury instructions", "I'm a patent holder so I could explain to the rest why patents are so important", etc) means there's a possiblity of a mistrial or at least some of the findings being thrown out by the judge.

    And there's many other grounds for appeal on individual findings that Samsung are strong on - for example the exclusion of prior art that shows Apple themselves slavishly copied others' designs but escaped being sued for it.

    But the potential game-changer is what Samsung are leading heavily with and look willing to try to take to the Supreme Court:

    "A patent on a round-cornered rectangle? Seriously?". Like the judge said in a different context: "Are you on crack?".

    I expect they'll continue to hammer that point and try to take it all the way. It's the kind of simple, basic, one-issue legal point that can be taken up by the Supreme Court if they wish.

    And if they do it could put an end to the ridiculous patents that the rubber-stampers at the patent office approve - while quite possibly also under the influence of the aforementioned drug.

    There's nothing wrong with the concept of and law on patents - the problem is gross incompetence at the patent office in letting patent lawyers spin simple basic concepts into "innovations". And allowing software patents when the rest of the world dismisses them as non-patentable.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Some good may come from this

      "There's nothing wrong with the concept of and law on patents - the problem is gross incompetence at the patent office in letting patent lawyers spin simple basic concepts into "innovations". And allowing software patents when the rest of the world dismisses them as non-patentable."

      The trouble is that the PTO works on a shoestring budget. You ever tried getting anything serious done on a shoestring budget?

      As for software patents, perhaps a compromise in light of the pace of technology. In reflection of things the founding fathers couldn't have anticipated (namely, the accelerated pace of innovation in different markets), perhaps patent terms should differ according to their underlying purpose and/or technology. In the case of software patents, given that lifecycles there are very short, the term for a software patent should be similarly short, say no more than two to four years. Long enough to get a decent return on innovation but not so long as to unduly stifle continued innovation.

    2. Heathroi
      Pint

      Re: Some good may come from this

      I would accept that as a compromise, short of abolishing it completely ( the clothing industry seems to do ok without it).

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Some good may come from this

        The clothing industry does have patents, but most of these are in the realm of novel fabrics and fabric-making machines like spinners, looms, and knitters. All of which concern sensible physical products. Patents for mainstay clothes like blue jeans and T-shirts have long expired. As for clothing designs, they're in a legal gray area that even today hasn't been cleared up. In any event, designer clothing is prized for its uniqueness; the claim to fame is standing out so imitation is usually frowned upon within the industry.

  34. henrydddd

    Author need to understand

    This author needs to hear a simpler explanation of the facts. First of all, the copyright/pantent system was intended to protect inventors who might have a lot invested in their new technology. Without copyrights, a young engineer (like Woz was) coming up with a new product could have it stolen and he would have nothing. No one would invest time in inventing new products without patent/copyrights .

    On the other hand, Apple has everything about their phones/tablets copyrighted/patented. Even stupid mindless patents such as patenting a rectangle with rounded corners. That patent should have been thrown out before it was granted! So assume there is a couple of bright kids, like Woz and Jobs were, come up with a truly great mobile phone. Even better than Iphone. With all the patents that Apple has, it is extremely probable that these bright engineers would suffer the same fate as Samsung. Samsung wasn't convicted of stealing circuit designs from Apple, they were convicted of having a smart phone that has the same look and feel of an Iwhatever. If you read your history books, monopolies have never been friends with new technological development!!!!! Apple has truly lost it's soul!

  35. Joey

    Identity stealing

    If you dress up as a policeman, and you are not a policeman, that is a crime. If you produce a national flag with horizontal red, white and blue stripes, you are passing yourself off as France. If you are a British soldier and dress up in a German uniform you will likely be shot as a spy. Identity is about creating a persona. It doesn't matter how simple that identity is. Red, white and blue horizontal strips, a red dot on an white background, a white + on a red background, a red + on a white background, the simpler the better. Samsung took what was essentially an identity created by Apple, not just the black rectangle with rounded corners but near identical packaging too. Never mind the rounded corners, even though there are countless different shapes that could have been used. Why choose black when there are countless other colours? Why have a grid of square icons, they could have been hexagons or circles and been more distinctive. No, Samsung chose to create a 'me-too' and then had the cheek to say that Apple is stifling innovation!!!

    1. 6th

      Re: Identity stealing

      Dude. I’ll bite, just because it’s better than doing work. But I’m entirely ignoring the first part of your post.

      * Apple didn't invent black, in electronic devices or otherwise. It’s a colour that generally doesn’t offend the majority, just like white.

      * Icons to launch apps, square or otherwise, are the tried and tested method of launching apps (easily) since OS’s evolved from console apps, though I do remember XTREE. Icons are hardly Apples.

      * SSung also didn’t choose to implement icons that: flash red and blue randomly, positioned roughly in a grid concentrically, disappear as you go to select them, have the icon default shape of a Torx security screw head with a triangular, multi-coloured background while swirling everything across the screen like stuff in a fishbowl so things overlap and you can’t select the one you want… breaths… probably is because while certainly distinctive - it’s stupid and would piss people off. Not something you aim for when you want them to buy your crap.

      It’s hardly *novel* to opt with using square app / web link icons in a square grid on a square piece of screen real estate. There is loads of prior art to prove that too.

  36. Timpatco

    The question is not "did Samsung copy Apple"

    The real question that Velvin made a conscious decision to overlook is this;

    "Does the iPhone constitute innovation under the Patent Rules?

    The answer to that is an equivocal - NO!

    In short, how can you "copy" something that was already copied or is a feature that anyone with a modicum of intelligence would have come up with?

    1. dajames Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: The question is not "did Samsung copy Apple"

      "Does the iPhone constitute innovation under the Patent Rules?

      The answer to that is an equivocal - NO!

      I think perhaps the word you were lurching towards is "unequivocal"?

      It makes a bit of a difference.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If it was easy to implement...

    I'm posting this anonymously to spare my blushes, but with the disclaimer that I work for (but in no way represent) Samsung, although not for long enough to have been responsible for any of this mess.

    For what it's worth, my opinion (from before switching to my current employer) has been that:

    1) Patents were designed to get the few people who weren't busy working in a field or steel mill to share their ideas.

    2) Patents don't work when millions of people are employed to solve the same small number of problems. (Note: Clive Anderson on Radio 4's "Unreliable Evidence" made a throw-away comment that it would be weird if a few people managed to invent the same thing, and nearly resulted in me ripping my steering wheel off. There seems to be a lot of ignorance outside the IT industry that this is a major problem.)

    3) Time to market is still a significant advantage - the six months it takes someone to copy (and certify) a phone is a lot of sales.

    4) A lot of problems could be solved by significantly strengthening copyright law and disposing of patents. (This includes drug solutions - you can't make a copy of my paracetemol replacement, but you can make your own. You can't copy my UI, but come up with your own implementation and that's fine.)

    Did Apple really deserve a patent for everything they implemented? Probably not. Did Samsung actively copy Apple's UI? No idea, not my department. Should anything Apple implemented that was so obvious that Samsung could copy it trivially be protected? Probably not - if it was obvious, it can't have taken that much research. Apple probably wouldn't have taken three years over developing the iPod Touch (or iPhone) if they'd not been spending their whole time avoiding everyone else's patents. It might even have had apps, multi-tasking and cut and paste when it was launched, since Windows Mobile did...

    I'm very much on for people being able to innovate. If only we could spend our time coming up with solutions to new problems, rather than new solutions to problems for which our competitors have patented the obvious solution.

    Ars Technica have posted a couple of reports on how much patents cost the software industry. I'm not the only software engineer who's sorely tempted to leave the field in order to avoid anything to do with them.

    As for how much patents help people, I refer you to the recent release of OpenGL ES 3. It does not feature floating point frame buffers or DXT-compatible textures. Want to guess why? Care to wonder why it took so long for continuously variable transmissions to become available? Wonder why Android devices don't use sub-pixel font rendering?

    Again, in case anyone works out who I am (and I'm not senior), this post represents my opinions and level of knowledge, not those of my employer.

  38. DJ

    Good morning, class...

    All settled? Then we'll begin.

    Today's quiz: California + jury = ?

    While you're working on that, O.J. anyone?

  39. Dave Fox
    Devil

    When is a patent not a patent?

    I've nothing against inventors patenting their work, but it should only apply for genuine invention!

    Take a smartphone for example - there's an awful lot of real invention in a smartphone. The capacitive touch screen, invented nearly 50 years ago, is one such example of a real invention.

    "Slide to unlock" though - where's the invention in that? When I my shed door I have a bolt that I have to "slide to lock" - it's an action, not an invention. The same with "Pinch to zoom". "Bounceback" also just mirrors some real world effects.

    In my opinion, these sorts of items should never have been patentable. Some may disagree and I respect that, but the figures that Apple were bandying about for licensing this "technology" was just absurd - $30-$40 dollars per smartphone or tablet? Frankly unbelievable - even if you believe these sorts of patents should exist, the licensing for them should be in the single cents per unit, or perhaps even lower than that.

    The decision to validate some of these ludicrous patents by finding Samsung in breach of them *isn't* good for the consumer and it *is* a damning indictment of the patent system, particularly in the US.

  40. PyLETS
    Flame

    Protectionism by another name

    As if we could have expected a jury in Silicon Valley to have taken an unbiassed view when it's a local firm versus a Korean competitor.

    Why should the US Patent Office give a damn about inventiveness, prior art or non-obviousness when other people pick up the cost of their dodgy patent grants and there's a career to be had for patents professionals based upon the patent application fees their issuance policy incentivises ?

    That's a license to print money for the patent professionals - at a greater cost to genuine innovation and competition suffered by society in general. Patent lawyers have become well versed at making the low quality of the patents they register difficult to fathom by learning how to phrase these in language so obscure it costs a fortune to litigate these, consequently patents have become a means for corporations with large legal budgets to predate from genuinely innovative startups less able to fund the $1million plus legal bills needed to defend dodgy patent claims made against them.

  41. IGnatius T Foobar Bronze badge
    Thumb Down

    Thumbs down on this article's opinion

    Apple has shown itself to be a bully, a patent troll, and dishonest. As a result I will never buy from them.

  42. heyrick Silver badge
    Flame

    "a remarkably common-sense jury decision last week"

    Really? Next you'll be saying in this day and age it would be possible to "patent" the arrangement of "clutch-brake-accelerator" (after years of intense R&D to determine the best order for <waffle><waffle><waffle>"). Imagine what a mess that would be.

    I understand that Apple feels Samsung copied them. Fine. But why is it I keep getting the feeling that "patent" is being used where "trademark" or simple "copyright" should be used, only patents are scarier and seem to be able to transcend antitrust, anticompetitiveness, and in some cases logic itself (namely, ignored prior art; ignored obviousness).

    People will say that "gee this is great, we'll have so much new innovation". Exactly how the hell much innovation can you apply to a phone? Pinch-to-resize was obvious the moment the display panels were up to tracking two distinct points. Cameras take photos and there's a "gallery" to show you them in a fairly standard way. Swipe-to-unlock was a fairly obvious definite action that could be performed without having actual buttons, and is specific enough as to be unlikely to happen "by accident". These might be innovations, fair enough, but if one company thinks it is acceptable to strangle the market by claiming "patent!" on such things the moment anybody else does something roughly similar, this will not lead to masses of wild innovation, it will lead to every god-damned device being completely bloody different. This is supposed to be a step forward? This is supposed to be GOOD for ME? When I upgrade my phone, I want to know its quirks and special points. I don't want to learn an entirely new system with entirely new ways of doing stuff. There's some comfort in the ability to pick up a smartphone (any Western model, I'm not up to Kanji!) and make reasonable use of it within a matter of minutes without needing to pore over a user guide. And again, and again, and again...

  43. WatAWorld

    a bit like having a cop sitting on a jury in a trial where a cop is the defendant

    A bit like having a cop sitting on a jury in a trial where a cop is the defendant.

    Nobody should be able to patent silly obvious things where there is prior art.

  44. Rodrigo Rollan
    Unhappy

    Behold !

    It took me 5 minutes: Samsung F700, Release 2007. Rectangle with round corers, touch screen , Square icons.

    The legal system sucks gonads.....

  45. WatAWorld

    If Tim Berners-Lee was greedly like Steve Jobs there would be no world wide web

    If Tim Berners-Lee was greedly like Steve Jobs there would be no world wide web.

    If the pioneers and creators of IT were like the attorneys who run today's tech companies, we'd have no Windows, since Xerox would have patented it and neither Apple nor MS could have afforded the license fees.

    We'd have no HTTP. We'd have no HTML. It would all be fragmented, no standards, just a hundred different ways of doing things so as not to infringe on anyone else's patent.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "If this were my patent," asked Hogan, "could I defend it?"

    To me, this quote really makes it seem like Hogan was basing his judgement on a principle of self-interest.

    I'm not saying Samsung should have have won the day, but I think this win for Apple is flawed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hogan. and other jury members, have said so many things since the trial that I'm sure Samsung will be using in their appeal. Statements like how they decided to hurt Samsung with the fine - which was NOT what they were supposed to be doing. They also apparently ignored prior art because it was too complicated.... each interview with any jury members just makes the whole thing look even more farcical.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Price too high.

    This is a bit like if they had caught Jack the Ripper and hanged him for wearing a loud shirt in a built up area.

    Samsung did obviously copy the whole thing down to the tiniest detail, but that should have been dealt with as a copyright thing. The look of a device and the specific finger-puppetry of it are not inventions.

  48. SleepyJohn
    FAIL

    A pyrrhic victory?

    If this produces the snowballing PR meltdown for Apple that some are predicting, it will make Samsung's billion dollar payout a cheap investment for them. Apple's business is strongly based on being 'cool', and greedily scrabbling around sueing everyone in sight for making a phone that looks like a phone is not likely to be seen as very 'cool'. It is the sign of a loser.

    A winner would have turned the 'copying' to their advantage with adverts encircling their logo and quietly telling customers to 'spot the genuine original'. Or similar. Rather than showing such naked, vindictive fear of competition.

    Ironically, after initially laughing out loud at this typically patronising Orlowski PR stunt, I think he may well, quite by accident, be correct in saying that "the verdict is good for you, your kids and tech". If it helps to bring down the oppressive, control-freak monolith that is Apple.

  49. Ascy
    FAIL

    Surprise, controversial article from Orlowski

    Patents are utter BS! Can you imagine someone way back when patenting the spear? The bow and arrow? It's a stupid system - humans copy from each other, it's what we do. It's why we speak the same language. The problem with the world is stupidity and laziness - there are lots of people who are daft enough to believe the crap about patents helping innovation and allowing for people to invest. Then there's lazy people (like myself) who know this is a complete rubbish, but can't be bothered to do anything about it. How can stopping someone from using an idea help innovation?! It just keeps a wealthy few wealthy while killing real competition. This is especially true when it comes to software and, as someone who writes software for a living, I am completely against software patents. If someone can rip off my idea and do it better than me, then good luck to them!

    Then there's the sick position of patents on medication, where people literally die because they can't afford to pay the steep price of medication. And would the giant medical companies go bust if they were forced to sell their discoveries to people who required it at a price they could afford? I'd bet a great deal of money that they wouldn't! The day that anyone I care about is on death's door, but could be saved by some drug that's too expensive for them to afford, then that's the day I'll come for the CEO of that medical company. Though sadly, I think I'm probably in the minority there.

    1. stanimir

      Re: Surprise, controversial article from Orlowski

      This is especially true when it comes to software and, as someone who writes software for a living, I am completely against software patents. If someone can rip off my idea and do it better than me, then good luck to them!

      QTF...

      On a related note: years have past since LZW patent expired but I still wonder how it was actually granted.

    2. Paul 135

      Re: Surprise, controversial article from Orlowski

      I don't agree with you on pharmaceuticals. Software generally has relatively little R&D cost, and essentially has zero cost to manufacture other than labour.

      Pharmaceutical companies spend millions upon millions in R&D to research and test new drugs. Then there is the liability should the drug kill someone! There therefore needs to be a much greater incentive therefore to develop pharmaceuticals than software.

    3. Paul 135

      Re: Surprise, controversial article from Orlowski

      ... Additionally, by the time the patent on a drug has expired you can be sure that it has been thoroughly tested. No one wants to be a guinea pig for new drugs unless in desparation!

    4. Thorne

      Re: Surprise, controversial article from Orlowski

      "Then there's the sick position of patents on medication, where people literally die because they can't afford to pay the steep price of medication"

      At least medication patents require research which implies the companies have actually done the work to deserve the patent. The problem here is BS patents coving the bloody obvious (at least to the rest of us)

      Why spend millions on researching a new drug when you can patent using two fingers on a touch screen and make more money?

      My issues against medical patents is where they get patents on discoveries for instance genes which cause diseases. They use the patent to prevent research for a cure unless huge licencing fee are paid and they get a huge cut if a cure is found.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In deference to one Mr Wells, your Morlock and Eloi references are borked

    The time traveler discovered that the Eloi had degenerated both culturally and mentally, and were passive and childlike in many ways, to the point that the Morlocks used them as food. While it is posited that the Eloi were descendents of what was once a ruling class, it's clear that by the time that they are "Eloi" that their situation has, perhaps, changed...

    when in doubt:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/35

  51. TimJJohn

    One Problem

    The problem with the stance of the author is that the jury has already admitted that they didn't actually apply the law to the case. The foreman specifically stated that "we didn't need to read the jury instructions". Their award of damages was also absolutely about sending a message. One juror was quoted as saying something to the effect of "We wanted to make sure the damages award was large enough to not just be a slap on the wrist but not so large as to bankrupt the company."

    The problem of course, is that the damages is supposed to reflect the actual loss that Apple suffered as a result of Samsung's infringement. What the jury did instead was to impose a fine on Samsung that was not related to the actual loss suffered by Apple. Perhaps had they taken the time to actually read the instructions of law, they would have figured that out.

  52. Shannon Jacobs
    Holmes

    Crating monopoly

    Interesting article, but I think it completely ignores the impact of de facto standardization. Except for Apple, no one is claiming that they have a perfect user interface, but Samsung or ANY other company entering an existing market has to respond to customers' expectations. The customers mostly want to do it the SAME way, and it's really hard to convince them that ANYTHING else is better than the way they have been doing things.

    Yes, a company does deserve compensation for innovation and also for creating the market in the first place, but Apple is trying to destroy freedom by eliminating meaningful choice. In addition I think that Apple stole most of the innovative ideas of apps from the PDA makes who were in their earlier turn destroyed by Microsoft. Yeah, things do get better on the long-term average, but we don't get to live on the average.

  53. stolennomenclature
    Unhappy

    Where would the world be without the iPhone and its ground breaking rectangular shape with the rounded corners! We must protect such ground breaking life changing innovation at all costs. How many phone conversations have been completely ruined by the use of a phone with square corners? We can only guess. All those trillions of useless pre iPhone conversations that occurred that would have worked so much better when conducted on a phone with rounded corners. Makes you think eh? I don't own an iPhone so as you can guess my life is useless and without any purpose, bereft of rounded corners. Mind you I would rather die than buy something from that egotistical arsehole Jobs, but that's just me. I would probably feel different if only my life had been changed bu those rounded corners. Oh well. Now where did I put my square cornered phone?

  54. john devoy

    Patents arn't broken, the US patent office is

    Almost everything apple argued on had prior art or was just plain obvious, meaning that in almost any country outside the USA they would never have been given the majority of the patents in question.

  55. Hillman_Hunter
    Meh

    Samsung could always,

    0. Pay the 1bn, it can afford it

    1. Adjust there product so it doesn't infringe

    2. Keep on selling

    1. Neil Greatorex

      @ Hillman_Hunter

      Rational thought & spelling not your strong points then?

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Other silly design patents

    Apple haters can talk about how stupid they believe Apple's patents are and how "this will be definitely turned over on appeal" all they want, but that's just wishful thinking or wishing the world worked the way they believe it should, rather than how it actually does. In the real world (or at least in the US, if you consider us outside the real world) we have software patents, and we have design/trade dress patents. If you don't like it, write your congressman to change the law. If you just complain and hate on Apple, you aren't fixing the problem because everyone files these sorts of patents all the time.

    If you think Apple is doing something crazy and abusing the system in a way no one else is, think again. Levi Strauss has successfully obtained and defended the stitching on the pocket of their jeans. If you think that's nuts, Cadbury has managed to patent a COLOR. They own the rights to that particular shade of purple in their packaging when used in chocolate bars or drinks. They've defended this successfully in the UK - given where they're based, it's perhaps not so surprising that they should experience less difficulty than Apple has in trying to defend design patents in the UK courts.

    Though I'm sure there are some Apple hating Cadbury loving UK residents who could come up with some sort of justification that makes sense only to them as to why trying to patent a rectangle with rounded corners and edge to edge glass is totally ridiculous, but patenting a color is perfectly reasonable :)

    1. Felonmarmer

      Re: Other silly design patents

      Cadbury don't have a patent on the colour (spot the "u" there? Yup, I'm english) purple, they have it as part of their trademark. Big difference.

  57. Rick 17
    Stop

    US Patent IS broken!

    Sorry Andrew, I disagree - if the US patent system was working fine, then how is it possible that Apple was granted a patent for swipe to unlock when that was already covered by US patent 8095879 issued to Neonode in 2005? (filed in 2002). Apple's application was in 2006, granted in 2008, so they didn't even do a search before applying, and the USPTO didn't do a search before approving.

    The Neonode NM1 was also released in 2005, using that patented tech.

    http://www.google.com/patents?id=4vwAAgAAEBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=8095879&hl=en&sa=X&ei=YHdCT56bFerE2wXU8qiVCA&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAA

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The issue is not the idea of patents

    ... but how they are *applied*

    When it reaches the level where patents for 'rectangles with rounded corners' are held, we reach the level of absurdity.

    It's crystal clear that advancement and technology has much of it's roots in *copying* ideas and working on the back of ideas that others have created.

    We do need a patent system, to protect the little guy. To protect the inventor, the start-up.

    These patents should be based on a very clear concept, not an abstract idea!

    It's the same issue with copyright - to protect intellectual property.

    But when companies start trying to copyright common words in the English language, again, we've reached an absurd point.

    An overhaul of the patent system is required.

  59. 22ten

    Think again

    The current IP system stifles invention; all IP’s should be available to anyone for a realistic license fee. That way we would get innovation of the basic idea into something better.

    The IP holder would get revenue and the consumer would get a choice. The biggest losers would be the lawyers.

    But none of this is new; lawyers working for James Watt held back the development of high pressure steam for years using patent laws.

    I wonder how successful Dyson would have been if his business plan had to include a million or so for lawyers to fight some aggressive companies IP claims.

    I think he should count his luck that Apple were not making domestic appliances!

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Think again

      So you say that Dyson needs stronger support for his inventions, but he must be forced to give away his inventions for a fee to anyone who asks.

      Removing the ability of a James Dyson to profit for a limited period from his invention would destroy the incentive to invest in innovation and result in fewer James Dysons.

      This is fairly typical of the incoherent rhetoric patent debate.

      1. John I'm only dancing
        Thumb Down

        Re: Think again

        But James Dyson is an arse who moved all his manufacturing out of the UK to reduce the price of his goods, except they are still vastly overpriced. The increase is in the size of his profits.

      2. 22ten

        Re: Think again

        What I 'm saying is that there are plenty of really bright people with bright ideas (just like James Dyson) but some companies use IP to make it very difficult for them to get any investment to take the ideas forward.

        I'm completely for people or companies making money out of their ideas but I am against people or companies actively blocking other people’s innovations with IP to maximize their profit.

        It would be better for inovation to offer longer IP rights in turn for a licence fee.

        That way the Dyson could have got his cyclone vacuum cleaner to market much sooner since the clearly did not invent the cyclone, it’s been used in industry for years.

      3. Neil Greatorex

        Re: Think again

        James Dyson hasn't invented anything significant, all he did was take existing industrial cyclone designs, reduce the size & apply them to household cleaners.

        He's probably not your best choice in an argument about patents.

  60. sueme2
    WTF?

    Ahem

    Check the forman on youtube? He is an absolute whiz. The prior art can not run on the Apple hardware, and the Apple software can not run on the prior hardware. Therefore they are incompatible. So the prior art does not count. Aha. Apple is not guilty of having prior art. (check)

    Now, the question they should ask is if the Apple software runs on the Samsung hardware, and/or if the Samsung software runs on the Apple hardware. To help any member of the jury who might be reading over my shouler: No it will not. and No it will not.

    (check)

    So Samsung is guilty of wilful infringment patent by patent. (Tick lots of boxes)

    (check)

    Makes a lot of nonsense, but that is how Californian patent law works.

    You think that jury decision will stand?

    That was the biggest best waste of time since Oracle tried to tangle Google.

    The problem is it was a jury, and they, no matter how nonsensical, take a lot of tossing.

    Imagine, having to put gestures on an Apple phone before Apple does it, to invalidate an Apple patent? Yes I can, can you?

    (check)

  61. Panicnow

    I guess Andrew has never worked for a small technology company that has been SCREWED by big patent portfolio companies who use their portfolio to blackmail the small company to "cross-licence"

    Or who have seen a large company write lots of patents "extending" your patent into use their patent technology so that the inventor can't exploit their own innovations.

    Or find that a technology you have been using for years is suddenly "patented" and you can't afford to sue the patent.

    Patents are a protection racket for major corporations used against small innovators.

    The Apple-Samsung spat is unusual as it was between two large corporations so it did actually go to court. Usually small innovators shut their doors.

    ... Yes I DO have scars!

  62. Dick Pountain

    Both, dammit!

    "Insisting humans are not creative but imitative is an argument that comes from a very, very dark place".

    Humans are quite obviously *both* creative and imitative (but that doesn't make for such good rhetoric). Without the imitative bit we'd never even learn to speak, or bicker on internet forums. The creative bit happens more rarely, which is why I agree with Orlowski that it deserves some protection. Once an innovator has been rewarded though it's in everyone's interest for other people to copy it - think about the arrangement of foot pedals in a car, the piano or QWERTY keyboard.

    Finding the right balance between the two is vital: whether the Apple-Samsung verdict helps that is the real question. My gut feeling is that it points toward an Apple monopoly and higher prices for some years, as it will deter investment in iPad competitors. What would we have said had IBM done the same with its PC design back in the 1980s?

  63. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm all in favour of robust patent law, but this trial has been a bit of a farce.

    First of all, the biggest deal in this case has been "trade dress", not patents. Trade dress legislation is really a measure against "passing off". It's not meant to enable designers to carve out a broad area of "style" as their own property. The jury in this trial, by the way they have interpreted the trade dress issue, basically extended the law of trade dress (if their finding becomes a precedent) far beyond the original intention of the law, into establishing a style as a new kind of IP.

    Second, the jury's verdict was biased against Samsung. They appear to have dismissed the relevance of all Samsung's patents out of hand, and ignored all prior art that undermined Apple's claims. In other courts around the world where this same or closely related dispute has been tried, the outcome has never been so one-sided.

    If patent law is to be rigorously upheld, then prior art should be rigorously taken into account, and patent claims should not be dismissed without clear and specific considerations of the reasons why.

    Third, the penalty the jury proposed is disproportionate. They said they wanted it to hurt (i.e., that it should be punitive). This is contrary to the law. The penalty is supposed to be compensatory only, not punitive at all.

    Fourth, the jury deemed a whole bunch of Samsung phones to be infringing trade dress, even though some of those phones look nothing like an iPhone.

    Fifth, they wilfull intent to infringe trade dress from the "competitive analysis" memo, which shows that they didn't read that document, or didn't understand it.

    Sixth, the jury seems to have been overwhelmingly dominated by one person. According to the jury foreman, the jury was quite divided at the beginning of deliberations, but he brought them all around to his view by the end of the (surprisingly short) period of deliberation, even though a few jurors were strongly resistant to his views at first. Why bother having twelve people if the verdict boils down in the end to the force of personality or presumed authority of one individual?

    What this trial tells me is that jurys should not try patent cases.

  65. Alan Denman

    Apple patented the human being

    I'm sorry but Apple has simply patented human actions.

    My opinion is that they only contain bull shit and sheep droppings.

  66. billrosenblatt

    It doesn't surprise me that the anti-IP activist crowd have "been conducting a rather a muted campaign." The notion of their cherished Apple as IP asserter, deviating from the purity of Silicon Valley principles, has made many of their internal hard drives short-circuit.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Without patent protection companies would not develop new products / drugs etc. - would you if right after you released it someone else (slavishly) copied it and started flogging it without all your R&D costs to carry?

    People 'get' this with pharmaceuticals and appreciate that people like Astrazeneca and Glaxo spend hundreds of millions+ and sometimes end up with nothing - but also spend that and come up with a drug that earns them the money to pay for it and the other failed ones. Now what if Generic Drug Corp. were just allowed to copy the successful ones...?

    1. Mark .

      Just perhaps, people don't see creating a new drug that has some benefit to humans, on the same level as making a rectangle with rounded corners, or moving your finger in a particular manner.

    2. jdv

      Apple presumable also spent a lot on the development of their product, and so their product should be protected against copying it. But: Samsung ALSO spent a lot in development of their phones, the did NOT simply copy the whole thing - they are now being punished for copying a few very specific characteristics of Apples product; not for copying the whole thing. Unfortunately, while the infringement was a few small characteristics, the punishment is proportional to copying the whole thing.

      That is the big difference: in pharma the patent is for the end product of those millions in investment, while in tech the patents are for thousands of very small details, which nevertheless are used to block entire products from the market and extort unreasonable amounts of money. Suppose that in pharmacology, each small sub-group of a molecule or sub-step in a process would be patentable -- then nobody would be able to develop any more drugs. That is what's happening in the tech industry right now.

      At the very least, patent law should be changed so that small features of a product cannot be patented, or of they can, the amount of damages should stand in relation to the total profits as the development effort of that feature is in relation to the development of the entire product.

  68. Identity
    Joke

    Now I understand!

    "In other words, the Morlocks - you and me - are too dumb to understand the arguments being presented. Which means we can't be part of the justice process at all - justice shall be decided on our behalf by technocratic elites, the Eloi."

    Andrew is from the distant past!

  69. David Spalding
    Thumb Down

    This jury had its collective head so far up its head (thanks to the valiant efforts of a clearly biased and inept jury foreman), that this verdict is 180 out from what it should've been.

  70. Goresh

    Patentable?

    The problem lies not with patent law so much as the weakness of the checks done before one is granted.

    Here is Australia, where it tends to be significantly harder to get a patent granted, someone actually managed to be granted a patent on a circular device facilitating transport, ie a wheel.

    Clearly this patent could never be granted but, where the area is a bit greyer it is possible to sit on a general patent and screw millions out of a true innovator in licensing fees while the battle is fought over whether the patent is valid. Sadly, having proven that the patent should never have been granted in the first place (which may yet end up the case in Apple vs The World), there is no way to recover the license fees already paid.

  71. Martin Owens
    FAIL

    The Trolls

    Rah! I love patents, they tasty! Watch as I jump up from under a bridge to ask you for money on my 'not a monomoply at all patent monopoly grant'.

    So a troll foreman convinced a jury to vote in favour of a troll company and a troll hack at El Register wrote a trolling bait piece about it in order to get more enraged groklaw geeks sending him bits of straw through the post. Only 3 more articles and he can make a whole man out of it!

    Patents are bad, overly brought tosh that no civilised society should accept. There was no real argument (let alone proof) in this article that we should think any different, just bare faced assertions. So I don't see why I should try any harder really in my comment.

  72. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Poor piece

    Lumping all critics of the case and the decision together is to be guilty of one the article's main claims. Do the amateur "experts" with no clue include El Reg's own Neil McAllister who came out pretty strongly against the decision? Not that you all have to agree but it's a pretty heavy sleight of a supposed colleague.

    Regarding the idea of taking such cases before juries, if one follows your argument through to its conclusion we should surely do away with patent offices altogether and replace them with juries? How does this square up with: a) the Oracle vs Google suit or b) the case of Apple versus Samsung in the UK?

    Regarding the case itself I'm still having a hard time trying to work out what is being patented and what is being copyrighted: is rubber-banding a design or a software patent? Or are we allowed to mix and match the two? Is the case about counterfeiting, ie. customers have been fooled into buying a Samsung product when they thought they were buying Apple? industrial espionage? Did Samsung abuse the knowledge of the parts it makes for Apple in its own products? Does citing Mr Dyson who makes physical products make much sense in this context? Or has started suing people for making see-through vacuum cleaners?

    This court case asks many more questions than it answers and it certainly does not vindicate the US patent system, which is so badly flawed that it was already reformed partly last year.

  73. afortiorama
    Thumb Down

    Juries shouldn't try patent cases

    I wonder how a jury of normal people can judge a case with 100 pages of instructions on what to do and what not to do in a complex patent case in 2 days. When I did jury service 90% of the people didn't even want to be there and all had other things to do. Can imagine the depth of thought this jury has put into this.

    Epic fail of the jury system. Infact this guy lost me at the 2nd paragraph when he says this is "it's a fillip for the jury system too"

  74. Uwe Dippel
    Stop

    Sharing

    Andre Orlowski, what was it that you were smoking? Could you share an ounce to two with your beloved readers for everyone's enjoyment (and stop writing next time while working on the after-effects)?

    One counter-example only to start with: the webserver and browser using HTML invented at CERN. Had it been Cupertino, we'd be deeper in shit than we dare to believe.

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