Apple Gone Wild with Patents

by Allan Harris on September 26, 2011

Given the introduction of new technologies, particularly in the world ofmobile phones (n ow called Smartphones), patents have become extremely important. There is no doubt that the patent system has provided many substantial gains to companies for inventions, ideas and research and development. What seems to be a right of a company is in essence a barrier to entry.

This has been proved with the recent patent war waged by Apple against every major technology company that is producing similar inventions as Apple. The ongoing mobile patent war, patent infringement assaults are very bloody. Apple is declaring war with every mobile manufacturer they can get their hands on to take their guts out of mobile OS.

HTC is paying $5 to Microsoft for every handset sold, thus Microsoft is making more money from HTC sales than its own phones. Samsung is unable to sell their Galaxy tablet in Australia because of patent claims. The story does not end here. Apple, the giant in the Smartphones world, is suing every corporation that comes close to its technology.

What are the research and development lawyers thinking? Its one thing that companies are stealing patents from Apple, but falling to a level to purchase $3 billion Nortel’s patent assets (a monopolist group like Microsoft) is another thing. Apple lawyers are filing patent claims around fringes – patents they have acquired, patents they are not currently using, or patents that are insignificant when OS is considered. With iPhones and iPads, Apple is clearly the second most valuable corporation in the world. So why go crazy with patent claims?

It is simple. Android is gaining much popularity because of its open source system. In the few years of its introduction, it managed to take over 50% of the Smartphones market share. On the other hand, iPhone represents more than half of Apple’s revenues. What the company spends on patents is insignificant compared to what they can spend to defend it. How? Take out the competition; leave less choice for consumers. Easier said than done –  Android is backed by giants such as Google who can afford to fight Apple.

If this weren’t the case, Android would have been long gone. Nothing can stand in front of Apple’s $80 billion cash balance. So what seems to be the war of technology has now shifted towards ‘may the best technology win’. And Apple will see to it that it wins -first with patents and then with technology.

Imagine a world with just Apple and Microsoft! Let’s hope that Apple learns that filing patent claims to take out competition will not land it anything. Develop better technology to get back the market share!

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