Apple's Worldwide War on Samsung and Android

Business intellectual property patent and design wars are no longer confined to just a single country. Now, lead by Apple, they're being fought all over the world. Lucky us.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Patent Absurdity

Patent Absurdity

Some fools still have this delusion that software patent and product design wars have something to do with some mythological real value of intellectual property (IP). While there are indeed cases involving a better mouse-trap, most such cases are about nothing but extorting cash from people who create real products, or, in the case of Apple vs. Samsung, Apple trying to preserve its market share against a would-be competitor.

Apple makes great products, but you wouldn't know it from the way it's attacking Samsung. Rather than let the marketplace decide whose products are better, Apple wants the courts to decide. Specifically, Apple is slugging it out with Samsung in a minimum of 19 lawsuits in 12 courts in nine countries on four continents.

Let that sink in for a minute. Apple is trying to use intellectual property law as a bludgeon around the world to protect its sales.

Around the globe the battle goes. In Australia, Samsung wins, for now, the right to sell their Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. In Germany, Samsung redesigns the same tablet in an attempt to avoid a European Union wide sales ban. And, the battle goes on and on.

Apple's claims are exactly the kind of over-reaching nonsense that the current state of intellectual property law that enables not only Apple, but any company with an over-broad IP claims, to use against anyone who dares compete with them. Many of Apple's iPad design claims, for example, can be shown to have prior art dating back to 1960s episodes of Star Trek!

Apple iPad design - it's been done before (images)

The European Union is finally taking notice of that what's going on here has less to do with IP rights and far more to do with trying to illegally beat the snot out of the competition. Joaquín Almunia, the European Union's Competition Commissioner, in effect, its chief anti-trust regulator has said: "In the IT sector, it is obvious it is not the only case. Apple and Samsung is only one case where intellectual property rights can be used as an instrument to restrict competition," Almunia said. He added that both standardization and intellectual property rights are two instruments that can be "used as a tool of abuse."

That's exactly what's happening. If Samsung, a global power in its own right, can't beat Apple, or decides it's too expensive to stay in the game, what chance does any other company have? A smaller business doesn't stand a chance in a world where a bully corporation can literally sue them around the world 24-hours a day until they collapse.

The sooner IP law is cleaned of its design, business practices, and software patent evils the better. If it's not, even if Apple repents of its anti-competitive ways, innovation in any technology is going to come to an end except for the companies that can afford the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars of global litigation.

Related Stories:

Samsung's Galaxy Tab sales ban lifted in rare Apple patent defeat

European antitrust regulators: Global patent battle could be 'used as tool for abuse'

Samsung alters Galaxy Tab design to avoid German sales ban

Google and Motorola Mobility: It's all about the patents

Google and Barnes & Noble get serious about Android patent lawsuits

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