Apple is right to protect its iPad design patent

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.

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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