When patents protect Apple, are they okay?

When patents protect Apple, are they okay?

Summary: Fanboys and Fangirls: what do you say about technology patents now that your beloved Apple is being protected by them?


I confess, I just got an iPhone 4S on Monday. I've never been a Fanboy, and I haven't really crossed over: I'm now one of those people who carries around two smartphones. My other phone is a Droid Bionic. I love the iPhone, I really do. In most ways it is a superior piece of machinery to the Bionic, but I'm deeply embedded with all the Google apps and the iPhone sucks at handling them.

Since I'm not a real Fanboy, but many of you are (and also some are Fangirls), I need to ask you a question: What do you think of the injunction that Judge Lucy Koh just granted on behalf of Apple against Samsung? The reason I ask is that so many of you have disdain for the patent-law system. In a recent debate about software patents, 89% of the ZDNet audience was opposed to them.

Granted, this is not a software patent -- it's a design patent -- but Apple has and seeks to enforce many of every kind of patent you can imagine. So, Fanboys and Fangirls, what do you say about technology patents now that your beloved Apple is being protected by them? Or are you in the 11% where Apple is concerned?

Topics: Legal, Apple, Apps, Software Development

Steven Shaw

About Steven Shaw

Steven Shaw used to be a litigation attorney at Cravath, Swaine &gMoore, a New York law firm, and is now the online community managergfor eGullet.org and the Director of New Media Studies at thegInternational Culinary Center.

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  • I'm pro-business, pro-capitalism and pro-patents. Enough said.

    Whether the patents are Apple patents, Microsoft patents, Google Patents, ex cetera, I have and will always support patents and a person or Corporation's legal right to defend a patent.

    BTW, why do you think one has to belong to the "Fanboy and Fangirl" club to endorse the concept of a legal patent defense?

    IMO, the trouble with enforcing patents in the past (and why those contested patent cases are seldom brought to a closure or even to begin a legal defense process) is the enormous sums needed to hire the likes of you, Steven, and other legal assets for a patent defense. That is the only reason patent cases are seldom brought about or read about by the average citizen. Plus the time involved to fully explore the legal process.

    But Apple and the other Corporations that have been involved in the recent tech patent cases DO have "deep financial pockets", so to speak, to fund legal challenges or defenses to contested patents and they have the time.
    • OK. I patent wiping my butt. I sue you.

      You'll support my case, right?

      If you're confused on my angle - have a look at your words "ALWAYS support patents and... right to defend." Are you capable of embracing the idea that our court and patent system may be capable of granted bogus patents, and that "always" defending them might wind up putting you on the side of stupid/harmful/wasteful/bad-for-humanity?
      • If the authorities grant you a patent for your example and

        A patent court upholds your patent, then good for you and bad for me.

        Granting a patent and upholding said patent are two components of the same process. The system will determine if the patent is bogus or not. All it takes is money and a good legal team.
        • Senseless

          A patent for rounded corners and glass to edge are nonsensical. Should GE jump on this and patent swinging hinges and four burners on ovens?
          Brian Lowther
      • Ya gotta love people who come up

        with what they think are clever examples of why patents are evil, when, in reality, all they have done is shown they are totally ignorant of what a patent actually is.
        • Amen

          So much ignorance on display, so mich envy and hate that I wonder why people waste time reading some of these threads. I can take only a few before I conjure an image of immature 14 year old geeks living in Mommies basement thinking they are clever. Simply sad.
    • Tech Patents

      Although i would normally agree with you. In this case you dont quite understand what has been going on with Tech Patents. We have a Patent system with people who dont know anything about technology. But Apple, MS, Samsung, Google, They know technology. They have been putting patent requests together that are so broad they should be rejected on pure principle. Its like Apples pantent on the Ipad "A 10 inch tablet in square form". Please, thats like saying no one can make a tv anymore because they are all square. Tech companies know that the patent system doesnt understand technology and they are using that to there financial benefit and to stopped innovation. Yes i believe if you truly design something of worth you should be paid for it. But when we are talking about the tech patents the whole system needs to be redone. No one at the patent office should be able to sign off on tech patents without understanding the tech industry. Its just common sense most of the time. But when have corporations or the justice system used common sense?
      • I loved what you said

        "But when have corporations or the justice system used common sense?"

        We can only hope that some day they'll correct our stupid patent system .......did I really say that.......... It will never happen ........ NO one/corp. would ever want to open up that can of worms.........
        Over and Out
    • No.

      The fact is that none of the "patents" they were granted are actually "patents" at all. They are not designs, they are not even ideas, they are just common things that are basic features. its like I own the patent to the mouse, but you own the patent to moving a pointer on the screen, so now I cannot use my device without infringing on your patents. And that is what Apple has done here. They don't own, nor did they invent any of the physical technology that is in phones today (considering they have never actually invented a single real technology, and only design things). The fact is that they now own the way that any of the technologies used in phones are physically used, which is even worse than owning the patents on the hardware itself. Which is why they are bogus and should all be immediately revoked.
      Anyone who believes that these patents are just in any way is obviously a fanboy and only wants Apple (a company who cares nothing about anyone, especially their consumers) to dominate the market with their subpar products.
      • RE: NO....

        It amazes me, how all of you Pro MS Fans, Jump on the Apple haters club, when they defend their patents, whether they bought them, designed them, or invented them, but when MS threatens to sue Android hardware OEMs, you'll defend MS to the death.......

        Talk about double standards and blind Loveland hate...whew!

        Maybe it's time for you to take along look in the mirror again, it's OK, I promise that mean, upset looking person, with the strung-out look on their face really is you......

        So, if it's a nice day out where you are,like it is here in Maine, maybe you should go for a walk,and get some fresh air, you'll feel much better...
        • sheesh...

          "Maybe it's time for you to take along look in the mirror again, it's OK, I promise that mean, upset looking person, with the strung-out look on their face really is you......"

          Oy... after reading all of your posts, I'm fairly sure that person is actually YOU.

          Personally, I don't think ALL patents are bad. But the system does need an overhaul... like start over from scratch overhaul. This applies to Apple MS and everyone else you'd like to throw in.

          This from an iPhone 4S owner and Windows OS user.
      • re T-wrench's comment

        In my perusal of MAC versus WINDOWS flame wars, what I see the Windows users are not defending Microsoft. What they are doing is defending against the continual barrage of "see how much better than everyone else Apple is" and the constant inference that Windows users need their heads read.

        In terms of phones, the same group of people who are fed up with being fed this holier than thou crap from Apple fanboys berating their preferred desktop operating system of everyday usage, are often Android users. In fact the phenomenon of "MS Fanboy" actually isn't that common. There are "Windows" fanboys (common), Android fanboys (common) and Windows Phone fanboys (very rare breed, mostly unsophisticated teens). But there aren't MS fanboys as such. There aren't large swathes of people who revere Bill Gates as a God and adopt any technology he put's his company's logo on.
        • Perspective

          It all comes from your perspective. You talk about the "see how much better than everyone else Apple is" crowd as the root cause but the only people I ever see bring this up are people claiming that Apple fanboys say this. Sure there are the occasional fanboy that makes a statement similar to that but a minimum of 9 out of 10 times it comes up it's an accusation, not an actual fanboy statement. I do believe there was a time where this was more valid but that time has long past and today the vast majority of Apple users/fans are rabid fanboys like so many here would like everyone to believe. I would say the OS of choice from my perspective that has the highest percentage of fanboys that simply attack other OSes because it's not their OS for choice is Linux and it's derivatives. And yes, there are MS (not just Windows) fanboys here in this thread alone.
          • Correction

            Since the new system here will not let you edit the below line from my post above is supposed to read they are NOT like below.

            ...today the vast majority of Apple users/fans are NOT rabid fanboys...
          • derivated

            well mac kinda is linux derivated itself
            Laurin Krystyn
      • Hypocrite

        You talk about anybody who believes these are just in any way is obviously a fanboy yet you expect us to believe your bias doesn't come into this at all. You are well know to be one of the biggest Apple/iOS haters on this site. Your bias has clouded your judgment on all things Apple for a long time, why should we assume anything has changed. I am an Apple fan (not fanboy) but I most certainly will not blindly defend every aspect of Apple's claims or their patents. That's because just like 99.99999999% of the readers hear I don't know know all the facts and am not trained in patent law. You on the other had hate Apple and think you know everything.
    • Re: When patents protect Apple are they OK?

      No, no, No way,in no manner is this acceptable. When are you people going to learn, that this a MS world,and everything else out there is like stepping in cow pies; after you've done it,you can't shakeout off your boots, it attracts bugs of all kinds, and it stinks.....

      Only,and I mean Only, are patents OKAY WHEN THEY PROTECT MS!!!!!!

      Btw,for those that don't know, this was intended as sarcasm....

      • Wow, Max wedge, you haven't spent much time here reading then have you..

        I know a few people with Macs, and a couple with Iphones, but I haven't seen this holier than thou attitude you speak of.

        Everyday, there is an article about MS or Apple, this and that, and the majority of postings, are anti-Apple, which in a way does make sense if you think about it, at least in my opinion.

        Most people use and prefer Windows based PC's, hence the large marketshare of desktops and laptops...

        Ever since Apple has been dominant in the Tablet space, there are 100's of stories about Ipad killers coming to market, and all the anti Apple crowd comes out in droves...And a lot of them post here, and post their outright hatred, hatred of a device.

        They act as though they're afraid MS will dry up and blow away, it's just incredulous to read some of these comments...

        Now, IMHO, I like to use my Ipad, but I also like using my Win Vista laptop, and Win7 desktop. I do a lot of writing, am currently working on my 2nd and 3rd novels, ( I know it sounds strange, but it is what it is), and I prefer to use my Ipad while mobile for doing this instead of carrying around my laptop. At home however, it's usually the laptop.

        And for writing these books, I actually prefer Pages over MS Word. But if I'm working on a document for work or home and I need to incorporate any pics or drawings, I prefer Word...

        And for spreadsheets I prefer MS Excel, I've yet to see or use a better piece of software...

        And as I've stated before on here, it all comes down to choice, and using what works for you..

        What I do get tired of hearing, is the close-minded opinions of those that call the Ipad a toy, that shows, to me anyway, that the individuals who state that have never really tried to use an Ipad..

        Or lack the inteligence to do so. I have no problem with they don't like the device, or the company that built them, but to post crap like that is just childish, again IMHO....

        At one time on Zdnet you could come here for information, and most of the posters would even chime in and help you, if you had an issue with something, but lately it's gotten so off track it's really sad.

        Do I think all these lawsuits over patents are stupid? Yes, I do. I do feel that individuals, or companies that invent something though, should be protected for a limited amount of time, and then it should be released out to the public to use for their own creations or inventions.

        I work in Defense, and when we make a product (new design), we are the sole producers of that item, usually for about 3-7 years. After that, we have to release that products tech data package to the public so other companies can bid on the right to produce that product against us.

        In a way, I think Patents should have to work this way, though the sole ownership would have to be less, maybe 1.5 years, because of how quickly this technology is changing...

        This would eliminate the patent lawsuits, as long as the minimum timeframe was met.

        Thanks for the reply Max, and I hopwe you come back and read my reply to you..

        • Patent timeframes

          There is no way in hell that Congress would reduce the exclusivity timeframe for patents (or copyrights and trademarks for that matter) since the people who hold the ears and fill the pockets of the politicians are the important people in this society (read "wealthy and corporations"). It is against the financial interests of both sides of that equation.
        • I really do not think thats accurate...

          "the majority of postings, are anti-Apple"

          That seems unlikely. Very unlikely. Extraordinarily unlikely. As in, you would have to claim that pretty much all the feverishly pitched complaining about Windows 8 from certain people do not count as anti-Windows posts. You would also have to discount all the postings that come from Apple fanatics shouting "But what about how bad Windows is" every time there is a story about something that Apple did wrong.

          It seems to be a fact that when Apple enthusiasts complain and say anti Windows posts, they seldom count their contributions as not so much being "anti-Windows" and instead just them simply telling it like it is. On the other hand, the anti Windows group will point out to you that if you bring up a failing in their OS of choice, you are just being anti-"what ever" their OS is.

          I for one find it astounding to see someone apparently saying with a straight face that most posts are anti Apple. That sir is a joke. What I would agree to is that many posts do come across as plainly Anti-Apple fanatic.

          I know several Mac users as well. And one point is true for sure, none of the Mac users I know personally rant like some of the Apple fanatics I see posting here. Not even close. We have even on occasion debated the various pluses and minuses of Windows vs. OSX operating systems and we never get into any of the over blown crud I see coming from some posters around here, definitely many Windows users, but by far the much louder and prouder Apple gang that refuse to let any negative issue mentioned about Apple or Macs to go unanswered without numerous trouncings of Windows.

          Your post is endemic of the kind of thing we often hear from anti Windows posters, in that they in fact see their OS of choice as the picked on one.

          It in fact you say that Windows users seem to be afraid that MS will dry up and blow away because of the iPad. Again, a purely ludicrous statement. Nobody thinks that MS is going to dry up and simply blow away just because most people would agree that its often nearly impossible to get truly productive work done on an iPad, that this means Windows users are somehow terrified that MS or Windows is about to drop off the earth. Much to the contrary it IS in fact the anti-Windows gang who thrive on tales of the demise of both Windows and Microsoft.

          I myself do not hate Apple and I will again make my personal opinion clear. I own an iPhone, I own an iPod, I think both devices are marvelous and I recommend them highly. I personally would not own a Mac for several reasons, and not because I think they are somehow "bad machines". I have said many times that if someone finds that a Mac is better suited to their needs, or if they just really prefer an Mac for any specific reason and they can afford one they should definitely purchase one because Apple does put together a nice package and all the Mac users I know really like their hardware as well as OSX.

          I will not own a Mac because I personally have no specific need for a Mac, I really enjoy Windows and its always given me great performance, exceptional performance in recent years and I build my own computers for so much less than the cost of a Mac I could never justify the price of a Mac for myself. I simply find that upgrading a homebuilt computer keeps me with a fairly potent machine on an ongoing basis for very little cash, and with the reliability I personally experience with Windows, I would actually sell any Mac even if it was given to me. And I agree that this is just me. Others have Macs and very clearly love them and I have no argument with that as they clearly have differing needs and wants in a computer than I do.

          But! What is very annoying is the mindset of far too many Mac enthusiasts that do post around here where they cannot accept anything, no matter the proof, that a Mac has a shortcoming of some kind. While they readily accept that Macs are not perfect, they just the same will not accept that a Mac has any specific flaw. The same posters will turn around and on the other hand claim all sorts and kinds of absolutely incredible horrible things about Windows that in all reality would mean a Windows computer must be practically unusable if they were true. This causes flame wars and is largely responsible for many unstable Windows users going off their nut in their replies to such posts.

          It has certainly got to the point quite some time ago that due to Apple fanatics almost pathological denial of any Apple shortcoming is causes Windows users to crow with delight when a clear issue with an Apple product is revealed. And then that again starts another flame war brought on by Windows users. I believe it was security expert David Maynor who being a Mac user himself, once said he exploited a Macbook just because the smugness of too many Mac users make you feel like putting a cigarette out in their eye. While a rather unpleasant thing to say, it certainly illustrates the reputation that far too many Apple enthusiasts have worked so hard to attain.