Patent War: Apple and Google spent more money on patents on R & D in 2011
The current patent war in the technology industry has forced companies to virtually take refuge in a corner and start patenting everything that moves to avoid further lawsuits. According to a controversial New York Times column , for the first time last year , the two most valuable technology companies, Google and Apple, spent more money on Patents in research and development.
This means that the two tech giants spent more money in 2011 to protect, defend and existing patent their inventions, rather than creating new things. This is a dangerous precedent because companies are using the patent system as a weapon for attacking prior to convince consumers with new and innovative products.
Some experts say this is because the U.S. patent system was created for a mechanical world, something completely inappropriate for the digital world of today, where a patent office approves softwares with vague descriptions of algorithms, or methods to business, without going into details of how these programs operate.
Judge Richard Posner , scholar and one of the most relevant and critical voices on the intellectual property system, said there was “complete chaos. The standards for granting patents are too flexible. “
As a result, some patents cover such broad topics that allow their owners to sue many products that seem to have no relationship, affecting consumers in the form of lower product variety and higher prices.
The column even relates that in 2006, in the days before the launch of the first iPhone, Steve Jobs brought all of its senior executives and said “let’s start patenting everything.”
Apple’s general counsel until that year, Nancy R. Heinen says that the attitude of the late founder of Apple was that “if anyone can imagine, we should patent it, even if we never make. It is a tool of defense. “
Soon, Apple engineers began conducting monthly meetings with patent attorneys where describing vague ideas, or subtle modifications to existing products, in which the lawyers said “this is a patent, that other also, and that” etcetera.
Patent applications by Apple have increased almost tenfold in the last decade. The company has patented two-finger zooming, using magnets to hold the cover of a tablet, and even Steve Jobs personally patented transparent walls and stairs Apple stores.
“Think of the billions of dollars that have gone down the toilet,” said Nancy R. Heinen. “It is a bad sign about where the industry is headed when patent attorneys become rock stars.”
The column also talks about a report from Stanford University, who said that in the last two years have been spent over U.S. $20,000 million in patent litigation and buy only in the smartphone industry. A figure that end up hurting unsustainable
– The Patent, Used as a Sword (New York Times)
– Skewed Priorities: Apple and Google Spent More Than Last Year on Patents They Did on R & D (Geekosystem)