Need more proof that patent litigation is killing innovation?

By on October 8, 2012, 4:00 PM

If you needed further proof that patent wars are detrimental to innovation, look no further than a new piece from The New York Times. The extensive article highlights the fact that big companies often threaten small start-ups with an extensive (and board) patent portfolio that ultimately leads to an acquisition of the smaller firm by the larger company or worse, a lawsuit.

But even more appalling is the revelation that those in the smartphone industry spent around $20 billion on patent litigation in the last two years.

The paper reveals that tech giants like Apple and Google have spent more money on legal battles than research and development in the past year. Cupertino spent just south of $3 billion on R&D in 2011 with plans to spend under $4 billion this year – figures that are far less than every other major technology company.

An unnamed source at Google told the paper they believe Apple enjoys these legal battles.

“Sometimes they’re asking for money. Then they say we have to promise to not copy aspects of the iPhone. And whenever we get close to an agreement, it all changes again.

“Our feeling is they don’t really want this to end. As long as everyone is distracted by these trials, the iPhone continues to sell.”

The article also highlights the fact that Apple initially submitted a patent application for what would become Siri in 2004. It took two years before officials got to Apple’s submission, ultimately denying it.

This didn’t deter Cupertino, however, as they modified and resubmitted the application another eight times over the next five years. It wasn’t until the 10th attempt last year that they were awarded patent 8,086,604 for a voice and text-based search engine.




User Comments: 21

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howzz1854 said:

I can just see this biting their own ass one day. spending more on law suits than actually inventing product is just bad business. they're digging themselves into a hole that one day when everyone get over the apple iphone, there'll be nothing left for them to make money.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

I can just see this biting their own ass one day. spending more on law suits than actually inventing product is just bad business. they're digging themselves into a hole that one day when everyone get over the apple iphone, there'll be nothing left for them to make money.

Haha, I agree totally. The article and quote used made me laugh - well done.

Typo in first paragraph, in the ()'s, by the way. [broad]

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The problem with patents is that they are so loosely translated, leaving a wide margin for patent trolling. Patents should be very well descriptive and not leave any doubt about patent infringement.

Has anyone ever heard the term refining search parameters? If you only type in one word you will get more than you wanted for results. Any patent submission that is not very well refined should be dismissed without further thought.

zarajoe1 zarajoe1 said:

So what I'm reading from this is "the next iPhone and ios update will be even further behind the competition" great. Starting to regret going all Apple

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

So what I'm reading from this is "the next iPhone and ios update will be even further behind the competition" great. Starting to regret going all Apple

Did you not do any research at all? At least since iOS3, every single version has been catch-up (and still not fully caught up).

zarajoe1 zarajoe1 said:

Did you not do any research at all? At least since iOS3, every single version has been catch-up (and still not fully caught up).

I guess but I never really liked android before. It only now with jelly bean and the htc one x+ catching my eye that I have been putting more research into things.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

I guess but I never really liked android before. It only now with jelly bean and the htc one x+ catching my eye that I have been putting more research into things.

A valid point. I think Android really started getting mature from the later Gingerbread (2.0.3), and definitely from Ice Cream Sandwich onwards.

zarajoe1 zarajoe1 said:

A valid point. I think Android really started getting mature from the later Gingerbread (2.0.3), and definitely from Ice Cream Sandwich onwards.

I agree. But I'm going to be needing a new phone still and what used to be a easy decision (iphone) is now much harder

Guest said:

All I see patent litigation is not killing innovation, more likely 'innovation' has evolved to a new form

yesterday: innovation in technology is needed

now: we need more innovation in patent litigation

:p

wiyosaya said:

Realistically, the idea that patent litigation kills innovation has been known for a long time. For anyone interested - [link]

[link]

From the wikipedia article:

"The patent war stalled the development of the American aviation industry. In response, after the beginning of World War I, the U.S. Government pressured its aviation industry to form an organization that allowed the sharing of aviation patents."

Patents do not protect innovation. They only provide inventors a right to sue others who might be using similar devices / ideas. And in the case of big companies swallowing little companies, they may be outright killing the inventiveness of the people who started and work for the small companies.

Major patent reform is needed in the US, IMHO, and not the type of reform that happened in November 2011.

Guest said:

Yep and samsung spends even less. Since they think they can steel stuff from apple. It is interesting how no matter what apple does ends up on the hate list. When they did not fight and got pushed under near bankrupt in the 90's almost wiped of the face of the earth for blatant copying. And now when they fight those who copy and undercut their business they are called tyrant. But yet all enjoy their innovation. Remember the release of the see through imac and afterwards the acrylic pc cases that copy. Every time apple makes a move others follow like monkeys. But yet apple is always viewed as bad since the innate adams apple. Apple is blamed for adam eating it. Nice.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Remember the release of the see through imac and afterwards the acrylic pc cases that copy.
And where did Apple get that idea from, who deserves the real credit? Was it a kitchen window that spawned this idea? Are they paying royalties to the one who invented glass? Who knows where the idea came from, some ideas just don't deserve patents.

Chazz said:

A valid point. I think Android really started getting mature from the later Gingerbread (2.0.3), and definitely from Ice Cream Sandwich onwards.

I agree. But I'm going to be needing a new phone still and what used to be a easy decision (iphone) is now much harder

I agree aswell. Up until recently I'd only recommend iOS or windows phone OS. I felt Android was very amateur and useless for anyone that isn't a techhead. Since jelly bean and Apple's slacking off, I now recommend Android and WP to my friends. Being the family tech guy, they usually come to me and send their friends for tech advice.

Tygerstrike said:

Ever since I got my Motorola Xoom tablet, Ive been in love with Android. That is not to say I hate Apple. I DO hate Apple. But only because the Iphone seems atleast 3yrs behind in its OS. I can customize my tablet in ways that my iphone <stock> can never do. I suppose Apple needs another "Brain" to help them make the rough business decsions. Ever since Jobs died Apple has been on a "EVIL CORP" power trip. Im hopeing that one day Apple will look back and realize how bad thier product has started to become and work on it. Instead of sueing every business out there that might infringe on thier patents. Im completly convinced that Apple is going to go after Hoyle the playing card company. You know sueing them because the shape of a playing card closly resembles a Iphone.....

howzz1854 said:

Yep and samsung spends even less. Since they think they can steel stuff from apple. It is interesting how no matter what apple does ends up on the hate list. When they did not fight and got pushed under near bankrupt in the 90's almost wiped of the face of the earth for blatant copying. And now when they fight those who copy and undercut their business they are called tyrant. But yet all enjoy their innovation. Remember the release of the see through imac and afterwards the acrylic pc cases that copy. Every time apple makes a move others follow like monkeys. But yet apple is always viewed as bad since the innate adams apple. Apple is blamed for adam eating it. Nice.

comparing apple in the 90s to the current apple is like comparing Justin Bieber to Ana Nichole Smith, the two can't be more farther apart. apple in the 90's were owned by a different group of people and ran by a different group of people, without Steve Jobs. just like today's Microsof isn't the same as the microsoft of late 90's and early 2000. today's Microsoft isn't run by Bill Gates, and isn't exactly on the front of the innovation curve, more like playing catch up. and for the record, Jobs was the one heading the your so called "Evil Corp" litigation streak. the guy was a genius but not without a fault, in his private life, he was described by some as delusional, anti social. those were some of the few negative words used to describe him.

howzz1854 said:

Btw, you can find all that in the FBI de-classified document released.

Guest said:

Patents are the reason why I am leaving the technology field.

wiyosaya said:

Yep and samsung spends even less. Since they think they can steel stuff from apple. It is interesting how no matter what apple does ends up on the hate list. When they did not fight and got pushed under near bankrupt in the 90's almost wiped of the face of the earth for blatant copying. And now when they fight those who copy and undercut their business they are called tyrant. But yet all enjoy their innovation. Remember the release of the see through imac and afterwards the acrylic pc cases that copy. Every time apple makes a move others follow like monkeys. But yet apple is always viewed as bad since the innate adams apple. Apple is blamed for adam eating it. Nice.

Interesting how many people say Samsung is stealing from crApple, yet ignore the fact that Steve Jobs himself said that crApple stole everything that has made crApple's fortune.

Perhaps what the majority of people who claim Samsung is stealing from crApple fail to see is that crApple is only interested in one thing - dominating and monopolizing the market by almost any necessary means.

Guest said:

Apple is a greedy, innovation killing pig of a company. I guess making 80 gazillion dollars a year is just not enough. They're so busy running around suing Samsung and everybody else that has a phone that "sounds like an iPhone when it rings", that they loose sight of the fact that innovation is the lifeblood of everything.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This is not just about Apple, its about all that try to dominate the market through the use of patents. A patent will stop anyone from innovating an idea further without paying royalties. Not everyone is willing to pay royalties, which limit the number of innovators working to improve an idea which is patented.

Guest said:

In regards to the samsung spending less fanboi rage, I did a quick google search.

Apple R&D: 2.4 Billion in 2011.

Samsung: 9 billion in 2011.

Apple makes phones, tablets, pc's, laptops, Monitors and periferals.

Samsung makes TV's, Monitors, Phones, Tablets, PC's, Laptops, Microwaves, Dishwashers, Stoves, Speakers, Washing Machines, Cameras & Camcorders, and periferals for all of the above.

Apple, actually, of all the companies legitimately competing with the iphone, is near the bottom on R&D expenditures.

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