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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Technology Copyrights

One of the bigger patent infringement cases in history just ended yesterday, the one between Apple and Samsung. The judge ruled that Samsung infringed on the Apple's patents, ruling on the slide-to-unlock feature, the ability to open one app from another, and autocompleting words as reported by engadget. These seem like fairly common features that have to be in all phones, which brings into question how do technology patents work? Does the similar camera design on two phones deserve the labeling of patent infringement? If it does, how many different "types" of separate patent-worthy designs are there? This case, especially with is verdict, calls into question the traditional method for of technology patents because features can be very similar in many cases.

A quick overview of the features ruled on if you haven't heard of any of them yet or haven't ever used them. slide-to-unlock was a feature that came first on Apple phones, then was used in a different fashion in many Android phones. The ability to link two apps together again was created by Apple, and used by Samsung (among others) later as developers started using it. The third was a minor ruling, the autocomplete of words. This feature starts predicting what words you are going to type while you are typing it. The problem I have with this ruling is that none of those features save maybe slide to unlock was something I think that Apple had an exclusive right to using. Linking two apps together is a fairly common feature for many developers, so the fact that Samsung used this feature after Apple is not necessarily fair. I am grossly over-simplifying here, but by that logic it seems that Apple, just because they've been in the smartphone business for longer, could just use all kinds of technology that they have the exclusive right to just because they developed it first. I would agree with this for some things, like software features or a special motion-sensor or something, but for very common components of technology it should not apply. The Guardian reports that this is the same attitude Samsung has (ironically because they also sued Apple over patent infringement) saying, "They felt as if they could not compete in the smartphone market without unfairly copying Apple's flagship product".

All this reporting and opinion on intellectual rights is basically me saying that patent laws should be changed, because $120 million to Apple for technology that was crucial to survive as a company int the market is ridiculous. Many believe Apple was trying to do this just to suppress the up-and-coming Android platform, though it showed the entire world of technology just how big the issue of intellectual property in technology actually is.

*Side note: That is in fact an old picture, because Apple sued Samsung way down the lines several years in history for their patent infringements, on phones that neither company even makes anymore