Apple is right to protect its iPad design patent

Apple is right to protect its iPad design patent

Summary: There was a time when holding a patent was a prestigious accomplishment. A patent used to be a respectable thing. Now it's a dirty word. And, shame on anyone who protects their intellectual property--especially if it's Apple.

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TOPICS: Apple, Legal
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iPad Design Patent: The Final Frontier

iPad Design Patent: The Final Frontier

Two of my fellow ZDNet colleagues (Rachel King and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols) have given their respective opinions about Apple's European Union injunction against Samsung's Galaxy tablet computer. In summary, they are not amused. I, however, am taking Apple's side in this battle. And, I might have to remind you that I'm an open source, Linux and anti-patent advocate. That said, I find Apple's actions in this matter to be justifiable and reasonable.

How can an anti-patent guy have such an opinion?

For one, I'm against certain software patents, not all patents.

And, two, I'm for reasonable intellectual property rights.

Three through infinity: I think you have a right to protect something innovative that you developed.

How many times have you seen a new product or service hit the market and you said, "Hey, I thought of that ten years ago." You might have but you didn't patent the process, the design or the technology. If you had, you'd be rich instead of regretful. If you had patented your idea, my opinion is that you'd want to protect it from thieves.

Regardless of opinion, Apple designed, patented and marketed (successfully) their iPad design and they have a right to protect that by enforcing their patent. That's why patents exist.

And, no, there's no conflict in what I'm saying here nor for what I believe to be true for many software patents. The difference is scope. Apple's iPad design belongs to Apple. UNIX, TCP/IP and HTML, for example, belong to everyone--or should belong to everyone--free of patents.

Patents are intended to protect inventions. They can be obtained for new products, processes and methods of use. They have a limited lifetime, but during that time, they provide the patent owner with exclusive rights to prevent others from working within the scope of the patent. From the BridleIP website.

What's the point of innovation if there's no protection for that innovation? The reward of a warm feeling only lasts for a few minutes. Money can last several lifetimes. Money is tangible. Money is the reason for any business pursuit. And, money is the reason that the non-innovators want to copy awesome designs. Patents are reasons that those copycats get into trouble for their transgressions.

If you invent something cool or revolutionary, you deserve the rewards for that invention. If you don't have patent protection, you'll spend a tremendous amount of time, money and effort bringing a new technology to market only to have it copied and taken away from you within a very short period of time.

Stealing and copying someone else's invention isn't clever or creative. It's just stealing.

Stealing is wrong. Stealing from Apple is wrong too.

Apple has a right to protect its tablet design. You have a right to protect your design for a better mousetrap. Sure, there will be people who imitate the design--or perhaps improve upon it--or cheapen it in some way, but if they get too close to the original, they should be stopped. It's not about squelching competition, it's about what's right and wrong.

Apparently Apple believes that Samsung got too close and the European Union agreed. You're entitled to your opinion on the matter but the bottom line is that innovation deserves protection. And, I think you'd see it differently if it were your invention's design infringement in question and not Apple's.

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Topics: Apple, Legal

About

Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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140 comments
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  • Sure

    You are serious ?
    Because this patent should not have been granted to begin with.
    For gosh sake how any sane institution can grant a patent for a basic design of a tablet ?
    What is next a company will be granted a patent for TV design ?
    Why not for the wheel as we are at that ?
    If you can't see how silly this whole thing is then you are hopeless.
    timiteh
    • That appears to be the issue with many here.

      @timiteh
      they do not understand the patent process (or a patent itself) and therefor fall back on the easy assumption that if it was granted, it must be a fair and just innovative product or procedure.

      It is fair to protect the rights of the holder of patented product they have invented.

      It is unfair to protect the rights of the holder if the patent in question should have never been granted, as it applies to a product that others have used long before.
      Tim Cook
    • RE: Apple is right to protect its iPad design patent

      @timiteh Err, ever heard of "prior art"? So no, you can't patent a design for a TV. Before the iPad was there a computer with a touch screen that relied on multi-finger input without an onscreen pointer?

      If so, that would be prior art. Otherwise, I think Apple's patent probably stands.
      Jeremy-UK
      • RE: Apple is right to protect its iPad design patent

        @Jeremy-UK

        It's well known and heavily documented that the USPTO grants lower-quality patents and then leaves the US court system to verify the validity of some patents. If the USPTO granted high quality patents almost all of the time, many of the problems would vanish.
        DonRupertBitByte
      • RE: Apple is right to protect its iPad design patent

        @Jeremy-UK Never seen Microsoft Surface? While the technology to implement such devices is only just becoming available, the ideas are nothing new.
        craigvn@...
      • RE: Apple is right to protect its iPad design patent

        @craigvn@? The Microsoft surface used cameras located under the top surface to track motion and objects. The iPad, iPhone, and use multitouch capitative panels to generate the input.
        Rick_Kl
      • RE: Apple is right to protect its iPad design patent

        @Jeremy-UK You mean were their tablets? Heck yes. In fact, even Atari corporation had worked on a tablet design for their computer line although they never brought it to market!
        jgm@...
      • RE: Apple is right to protect its iPad design patent

        @Jeremy-UK You are obviously wrong because the iPad was NOT the first tablet on the market. Nor was it the first tablet demonstrated. And the patent they are using was AFTER it had already been on sale for awhile. If I sold a product for awhile, then tried to patent it, I'd be laughed out of court. Of course, I'm not the richest corporation (news from the other day). If they had tried to sell it in Europe with Windows on it, things would've been different. (MS demonstrated a working tablet back at 2000 Comdex).
        jstuart8@...
      • RE: Apple is right to protect its iPad design patent

        @Jeremy-UK .. i dont agree ,, see the patent it is a line diagram for crying out loud,, patents are given to specific detail designs and not to sketched outline,, how can you patent a rectangle, next thing u will see a rhombus patent
        badrulv@...
      • RE: Apple is right to protect its iPad design patent

        @Jeremy-UK Have you ever heard of IBMs Simon?
        Apple has a junk patent. All of its components are protected by other companies with real patents. Apple is simply freaking out because nothing it has done is innovative not even the UI of its OS or devices. Its just prettyfied, dumbed down consumer garbage. The USPTO is also the most ineffective IP protectionist agency in the world. Patent reform is gravely needed.
        stanclone@...
      • RE: Apple is right to protect its iPad design patent

        @Jeremy-UK Have you seen the EU design registration document? (It's not a patent.)

        The design is a rounded rectangle with a square screen in the middle. There is nothing about touch, or even anything to say that it's a tablet at all. <br><br>Certainly it's not an iPad, since it has no Home button or connectors noted (which the far more detailed US design patent contains).
        kevindarling
    • RE: Apple is right to protect its iPad design patent

      @timiteh
      "What is next a company will be granted a patent for TV design ?"
      You mean like when Sony was awarded the patent for the Trinitron screen design?
      Geuseppi
    • I agree it is silly

      @timiteh

      It's silly that Apple is forced to spend time and resources defending its intellectual property from companies that cannot even put forth the minimal effort to make their products sufficiently different from an Apple's that they could pass a sniff test. However, since Samsung couldn't be bothered to make such an effort I am not going to waste time feeling sorry for it.

      What's really amusing is this came from the EU the supposedly, according to folks around here, the last bastion of fairness against baseless intellectual property claims.
      oncall
      • RE: Apple is right to protect its iPad design patent

        @oncall If it's a completely different size, uses a different processor, different screen resolution, different OS, different camera setup, and a thousand other things that are different, you feel that the ONLY way Apple can survive is by trying to ban it as opposed to just selling a superior product (which Apple very clearly has)?

        If Samsung makes the backside some color other than white, or if they round the corners so it looks less like a rectangle - would THAT be good enough for you? Where exactly do you feel Apple has been infringed to the point of meaningful economic impact?
        spark555
      • Samsung could have made it look like just about anything besides..

        @spark555

        An iPad. Why didn't Samsung do so? There are many black rectangles in the world that don't look almost exactly like an iPad. And yet, damn, that Samsung sure does look like an iPad. Not just a little, but a whole lot.
        oncall
      • RE: Apple is right to protect its iPad design patent

        @oncall

        Out of all the tablets out now, Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the only one that looks exactly like an iPad. Blatant cloning on Sammy's part.
        dave95.
      • dave95: So are you hoping Apple loses its lawsuit against Motorola?

        "Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the only one that looks exactly like an iPad"

        Does this mean we can expect to see you cheering against Apple as they try to block the sale of the Motorola Xoom, a device you have just admitted does not look like an iPad?
        toddybottom
      • RE: Apple is right to protect its iPad design patent

        @Everyone James Randi has a million dollar prize for you if you can tell any of these tablets apart from a distance far enough to not be able to see the logo. They're all rectangles. Period. 99.99% of laptops are clamshells with minor cosmetic differences. Period. Most smartphones are rectangles with a screen. Period. If I popped the labels off you couldn't tell one from another.
        jgm@...
      • RE: Apple is right to protect its iPad design patent

        @oncall If an EU "Design Patent" is like a US one it covers only what the device looks like, not any technology involved in its workings. The drawings I saw from the patent on another website show what looks exactly like an Etch-A-Sketch" without the knobs. That seems an obvious development to me and should not have been granted a patent !
        jim@...
      • RE: Apple is right to protect its iPad design patent

        @oncall "What's really amusing is this came from the EU the supposedly, according to folks around here, the last bastion of fairness against baseless intellectual property claims. "<br><br>It is, baseless lawsuits are very rare in Europe. According to the loser pays principle the winning side must be fully compensated so it does not end up worse off than if the court never had to take place. So it really makes no sense to sue someone in bad faith, as you can't harm them and it will cost you money.
        MadDonkey