It has been a while, but the amusing comedy show that I like to call patent disputes has finally decided to grace our newsfeeds once more. Guess who is involved in this episode?
Motorola and Apple of course.
What has been unveiling in Germany over the past few weeks had been nothing short of astounding. Oh, wait, sorry. I meant the complete opposite. It’s the same boring spiel we have seen time and time and time and time again.
Motorola sued Apple. That is the gist of it, but they are disputing over a patent that is intrinsic to the standard operation of all 3G enabled phones and devices. It’s an industry standard patent, even proclaimed as such by Motorola themselves, meaning that companies have to licence it with Motorola giving them fair terms.
What’s happening now is that Apple do not believe Motorola are offering them fair terms, as they most likely differ from what Motorola offer other competitors, so Apple removed the iPhone 3Gs, 4 and the iPad 3G models.
Seems ok so far, right? Well, yeh, if you are arguing that the current patent system works.
What we are seeing here is an exemplar case of the patent dispute system gone horribly wrong. After Motorola and Apple sort out this little tantrum, Motorola gets an insignificantly small amount of money from Apple and Apple continues selling their stuff; however, who is affected most in the short and long term by this? The consumer.
In Germany, because Morotola and Apple cannot agree over a simple little thing, German potential buyers are unable to purchase what they want. For Apple, this makes little difference as they are swimming in pools of platinum coins, but its the consumer who has to wait for no reason other than a little tantrum. There is also the case of Apple’s push email service being stopped by these patent disputes.
Even though these are minor inconveniences, they do not bode well to an emerging tech industry, where legitimate startups are placed in the firing line of these big tech conglomerates, with no resources at hand to defend themselves with. Do we really want to forge such an image of a vibrant and revolutionary industry?
All these disputes just eat away resources, and for what? So that Motorola can get an extra 0.1p on every 10th iPhone sold, or so that Apple can squash the most popular mobile platform that they claim stole their “look and feel”? How does one even patent a “look and feel”?
Instead of investing these futile paroxysms, why not invest in building the next great thing, you know, the thing that will cause a seismic shift in computing? Alternatively, we could all just beat each other up about nothing that important just as a matter of principal.
Get over it! No matter how much you try, things will never be the same again, apart from in an alternate universe [cue @TheAftermatter].