If you think this is going to be another rant about Apple then you’re right, in a way, but this is going to be more of a rant on the patent system as a whole.
The wonderful thing about patents is that it allows a company who put the time and money in terms of research and development into making a product/technology to be able to hold a monopoly on the product/technology for a specified amount of time. That’s not the issue here, I have no problems with the idea of patents; just the patent system as a whole.
Currently the patent system allows for patents that are too broad, broad in the sense that a single patent could have ramifications throughout the entire industry. Take for instance the patent that some company named “Rockstar Consortium” owns. Rockstar Consortium has sued Google along with most of the major Android phone makers (Asustek, HTC, Huawei, LG Electronics, Pantech, Samsung, and ZTE) claiming they violate a bunch of old Nortel patents. This is yet another example of situations in which patents are shuffled off to patent troll shell companies to avoid having countersuits launched against their own products. And guess what? Microsoft and Apple both have their hands in Rockstar Consortium. Gee… doesn’t this start to sound a bit dirty? Yeah, it does. This may sound like a conspiracy theory but I think that this is happening because Apple and Microsoft are afraid of Android and they both want to kill it off.
For instance… US Patent Number 6,098,065 “Associative search engine” owned by none other than “Rockstar Consortium”. OK, here’s the description. “This invention relates to an advertisment machine which provides advertisements to a user searching for desired information within a data network. The machine receives, from the user, a search request including a search argument corresponding to the desired information and searches, based upon the received search argument, a first database having data network related information to generate search results. It also correlates the received search argument to a particular advertisement in a second database having advertisement related information. The search results together with the particular advertisement are provided by the machine to the user.”
Gee… what is wrong with this patent? Nearly everything! There’s nothing good about this patent, this patent is complete garbage and should’ve never been allowed to become a patent in the first place. Why is that? Simple. It could be applied to just about every single piece of technology we use in everyday life. Google, Yahoo, Bing, the Windows 7 Start Menu search function, the Windows 8/8.1 Start Screen search function, Apple Siri, Google Now!, Android search, GMail, Google Calendar… the list goes on and on forever. Just about anything that includes a “Search” box this patent can be applied to. Am I taking and interpreting this patent too broadly? Maybe, but if I can interpret this patent this broadly then a patent lawyer can as well. Can you start to see why this patent is bad? It’s glaringly obvious how bad this patent is!
Apple bought PrimeSense the company that’s responsible for the technology behind the original Microsoft Kinect and with the purchasing of the company they most likely got the whole of PrimeSense’s patent portfolio. Now, why did Apple buy this company? Who knows, but I do know for sure that they wanted PrimeSense’s patent portfolio so they can later use it like a hammer and beat some other company to death with future lawsuits.
I’m not singling out Apple here; Microsoft, Intel, Sony, Google, AMD, nVidia, etc. They all do it, they are all guilty of committing this sin. How is this good for the future of the technology world? I’ll let you in on a little secret, it’s not. It’s not good for the technology world because it hinders innovation, brings on needless lawsuits, and ultimately the only people who win are the lawyers and we the consumer lose in the sense that we have to pay in the form of more expensive products, less innovation, and less new products. Again, how is this good for the future of the technology world? It isn’t!
Can you imagine where we would be in terms of technology and gadgets if not for these constant patent lawsuits and constant bickering and fighting? We will never know. Can you imagine of Blackberry patented the idea of the “smart phone” and sued everyone else that made something like it? We would all be walking about with nothing but Blackberry’s and nothing else. Innovation would have ground to a halt and we the consumer would have lost.