The “Patent” – useful concept or moneymaker for the lawyers out there?

Oh I’m going to nail my colours to the mast right off and say that overall patents are moneyspinners for the legal eagles chasing the ambulances of new product innovation! And when it’s BT who are getting in on the act I really begin to lose the plot.

Remember that BT are bunch of chunks who din’t bother to patent – hyperlinks! So now they think they can change their spots and have a go at Android -well it’s the flavour of the month isn’t it. Wait till somebody makes something really useful and then claim that you “own” it hoping that the other party will settle so you can get some money for old rope.

Well I don’t like this sort of behaviour. I don’t like people being ripped off either but when you get to this level of corporate monstrosity I couldn’t give a fig! In fact I’d personally like to be part of a class actino againsty soem of the largest corporates out there for simply not delivering on their advertising – for the use of “weasel words” in their terms and conditions and for just being crap – you know who you are!

Innovation and competition is what makes business great – protecting some spurious piece of IPR – i mean c’mon BT – what’s this latest one?

One example of an alleged infringement is Android’s ability to allow a music download if a smartphone is connected to a wi-fi network, but to prevent it when the device only has access to a 3G data link.

Another example is Google Maps ability to make different information available at different levels of zoom.

Here’s the link if you really want to read it all – it’s not the only example though look at Apple and Samsung – ooh your phone/tablet (select whichever you wish) looks like my phone/tablet, that’s not fair I’m going to sue you and try and stop you being able to sell it….well if you’re going to do then then I’m going to stop you selling your phone/tablet – nah nah!

…and whose fault is this? Well clearly it’s the legal eagles of today’s corporate world – you’re feathering your own nests at the expense of the consumer. Lack of choice because your battles mean that products and services are not able to be offered to the customer while the legal battle “rages”and increased prices because the cost of legal battles needs to be added to the final selling price.

Now I know you’ll be bleating about how this freedom, this anarchy would encourage IPR theft which will damage business – well I’ve got an answer for that, I’d like to propose a half-way house.

In the same way that the extremely rich have less “personal tax allowances” let’s have a system where the larger your company the less legal weight you can apply. So the likes of Apple, of BT and of Samsung et al would have almost no recourse to use patents – unless one could argue that “national interest” or “national security”would be served.

The corollary would be that small companies have all the power to protect their IPR and would be encouraged to keep coming up with weird and wonderful and occassionally hugely beneficial ideas- after it’s not the big guys who provide all the innovation is it? Siri was developed by a small team before Apple snaffled it up and two years later let us have what we could have had 2 years earlier, and then only if we are prepared to cough up a few hundred quid for their “latest” design!!

C’mon guys it makes perfect sense – now if you’d just like to argue about at what level of turnover the limits of legal power would decline I’m sure you’d see I’m still protecting your income whilst improving things for the rest of us – I’d call that a win-win situation!

Happy Christmas everybody.

OMG now there’s another one – HTC said the patent in question related to a small user-interface feature often called “data tapping”, which allowed users to grab embedded information, such as a phone number, and do something with it, such as make a call. Doh! That’s what I call copy and paste – is Apple saying that’s their idea now? And the result? HTC can’t sell their phones in the USA – er, isn’t that anti-competitive behaviour?

BTW – Apple is embroiled in numerous patent disputes in Europe, Asia and Australia with other smartphone makers that run Android, most famously its South Korean rival Samsung.

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