The Firm


Is the patent system broken or just severely flawed?

Patents that have been awarded to various tech companies are not bringing forth innovation, they are stiffing innovation. Manufactures are more concerned with getting ridiculous and vague patents that they use to sue another company instead of really creating something revolutionary. Software patents, like the ones that have been issued to Apple, Motorola, Samsung, and LG are entirely to vague. The patents are issued so late that by the time a patent is awarded to a company various devices are already using similar technology and that’s just the way a smartphone works at that point.

Samsung has a patent for playing an mp3 in the background while conducting other phone operations {1} . This patent was awarded in 2010. In 2010, about every phone that is sold plays mp3s while it can do other things. If this patent was awarded, which it shouldn’t have been because that is how cell phones operated at that time, then it should not be able to be a part in a court case. That patent should be thought of like a Nobel Prize, “good job for inventing’s your award”.

Is the patent system broken or just severely flawed? Because it is one of those two options. Patents shouldn’t be awarded so many years later for a vague idea such as “front speaker slot, uncluttered front face, display borders and the edge-to-edge glass of a smartphone” {2} If by the time the patent is to be awarded the market of smartphones are already practicing said patent as a market standard, then it should be looked at as a market standard and the way business is run. Don’t award a patent at that point only to have the company go back and file lawsuits retroactively for products. It ties up the legal system and wastes people’s time, money, and is detrimental to moving an industry forward.

The Apple v. Samsung case has been a major case in showing the frailties of the patent system. Did Samsung develop products that look eerily similar to the iPhone? Yes. Should Samsung have to pay for riding off of the marketing success of the iPhone? Yes. Should Apple be allowed to have a patent on a black rectangle with rounded corners? No. If a company develops a truly innovative idea they should be allowed to patent that. A company should not be allowed to patent a market standard.

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{1} US Patent 7698711, Mult-tasking Apparatus and method in a portable terminal, Samsung Electronics Co., LTD. |,698,711&source=bl&ots=Ix9Ejgvpmw&sig=jAdGm9tKQPvWPQTd3IKha4VHS4I&hl=en&sa=X&ei=moIUULXeG6X20gG4-4CACQ&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAA

{2} US Patent D618677, Electronic Device, Apple Inc. |

{*} I am not an expert on patents nor am I claiming to be. I am only a citizen of the United States who has a vested interest in technology using my common sense to generate an opinion on the precedent set by this court case.