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MacBytes
May 25, 2007, 01:03 PM
http://www.macbytes.com/images/bytessig.gif (http://www.macbytes.com)

Category: Apple Hardware
Link: Apple’s iPhone. Is It Really Well Protected By Patents? (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20070525140356)
Description:: To find out which of the cool iPhone features has been patented by Apple and are now protected from replication and which ones you can expect to be copied soon by the likes of Nokia, Samsung or Motorola, we’ve combed through the U.S. Patent and Trademark database and checked all relevant Apple’s patents.

And we came to a conclusion that this time Steve Jobs did his homework and most of the key features that make iPhone an iPhone will not be easily copied by competitors.

Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)
Approved by Mudbug

nagromme
May 25, 2007, 03:14 PM
To me, some of those sound too broad, not actually new, or otherwise undefensible (hard to say, since the article is a little rough and only touches on the details briefly).

But even stripping those away, the truly new and unique stuff is also patented, and should do a lot to keep Apple's innovations away from copycats.

AlmostThere
May 25, 2007, 03:48 PM
Boasting about the number of patents is a tribute to your lawyers not your engineers!

nagromme
May 25, 2007, 04:06 PM
Certainly. But Apple needs to both create AND defend its inventions.

vincebio
May 25, 2007, 05:13 PM
the truly new and unique stuff is also patented, and should do a lot to keep Apple's innovations away from copycats.

except chinese ones....they seem to think they are excempt:rolleyes:

Chef Medeski
May 26, 2007, 02:50 PM
Certainly. But Apple needs to both create AND defend its inventions.
Why because competition makes products more expensive? I'm sorry but I like my competition. I like the idea of clones because it puts pressure on Apple to not have a 40% margin and not dance around not updating their stuff. Competition is good period. What good is defending all those inventions to the consumer? Apple makes money. And I still have to pay $2k for a 15" computer running OS X. I dont seen anything in my favor from your statement.

nagromme
May 26, 2007, 03:31 PM
In your favor is prevention of the following--just like any patent:

1. Apple (or whoever) invents something.

2. Other companies copy it.

3. Apple therefore makes less money and takes on more risk--maybe even loses money while others get rich off the idea.

4. Apple (or whoever) doesn't--or can't afford to--invent anything else.

Imagine if you invented something unique, and before you could sell enough to cover your costs, your neighbor stole the idea and took over the market. Your next idea would never see the light of day, and consumers would experience the benefits of it.

That's what patents are for.

Competition is not about taking someone's invention (like the multitouch display system) and copying it. Competition is about inventing something better of your OWN. Other companies are free to invent something better than the iPhone, and yes, that competition is good for all.

Your complaint seems to be not with the iPhone being hard to copy, but with it being too expensive and not updated often enough. (Statements I'd also disagree with, but that's another subject.)

You'd rather there were clones so that Apple would sell fewer of their own iPhones, AND be forced to take less profit on each one. I'm not sure that would help the iPhone remain a growing and well-supported product. Which is what I, as a consumer, do want it to be.

I do not, of course, want Apple to make unfair margins beyond other companies who sell similar products. That may be "fair" but as a consumer I want everything cheap :) So I'm interested to know: what evidence do you have that Apple will make margins that are unfairly greater than other companies who sell similar products? And did those companies spend as much on R&D for their phone as Apple did on theirs with multitouch? Because R&D must be paid for--not just raw materials. That cuts Apple's resulting margins down.

shadowfax
May 26, 2007, 03:37 PM
Why because competition makes products more expensive? I'm sorry but I like my competition. I like the idea of clones because it puts pressure on Apple to not have a 40% margin and not dance around not updating their stuff. Competition is good period. What good is defending all those inventions to the consumer? Apple makes money. And I still have to pay $2k for a 15" computer running OS X. I dont seen anything in my favor from your statement.

That's about the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Copycats are leeches. They are the bane of competition. Innovators compete. My good idea versus your good idea, let's go. Not my good idea versus your cut-corner copy of my idea that you sell for 20% less. That's ridiculous. Design and innvation, product development, these things cost a load of money, and it's in a company's interest to make that back quickly by charging a premium when they have an edge.

Now, I realize that there is much wrong with patent law today, and I would agree that technology patents should probably only last 5-10 years, but they're important to competition. period.

As for your assumption that Apple is dancing around out not updating products, I am not sure that's the case. The margins were rather high over the last quarter, but I would anticipate that to scale back. But seriously, why would I want to see the iPhone Clone competing with Apple's iPhone? pointless. I want to see RIMM or Motorola start coming up with something totally new and theirs. They are the ones that have needed real competition for the last ten years. Phones are absolute crap.

Finally, $2000 for a 15" laptop is not a problem, to be honest. I believe it's a pretty competitive price, honestly. There's not much out there competing with it, apparentlty...

Chef Medeski
May 26, 2007, 04:40 PM
That's about the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Copycats are leeches. They are the bane of competition. Innovators compete. My good idea versus your good idea, let's go. Not my good idea versus your cut-corner copy of my idea that you sell for 20% less. That's ridiculous. Design and innvation, product development, these things cost a load of money, and it's in a company's interest to make that back quickly by charging a premium when they have an edge.

Now, I realize that there is much wrong with patent law today, and I would agree that technology patents should probably only last 5-10 years, but they're important to competition. period.

As for your assumption that Apple is dancing around out not updating products, I am not sure that's the case. The margins were rather high over the last quarter, but I would anticipate that to scale back. But seriously, why would I want to see the iPhone Clone competing with Apple's iPhone? pointless. I want to see RIMM or Motorola start coming up with something totally new and theirs. They are the ones that have needed real competition for the last ten years. Phones are absolute crap.

Finally, $2000 for a 15" laptop is not a problem, to be honest. I believe it's a pretty competitive price, honestly. There's not much out there competing with it, apparentlty...
Actually what I like to see is, you copy his great ideas plus add some of your own. And in this way the consumer gets all the great features of one guy and the other guy and the other. Look regardless of whether you think its a ****** idea or not, thats how the world works. Windows copies mac, mac copies linux, mac copies windows, windows copies linux. Its much better for the consumer that way.

Do you think it would be nice if only Fujitisu made Tablets? Then when I want to go buy a tablet, I have the choice of buying a fujitsu or not buying what I want cause other things such as other features or price affect my decision. I dont see how Apple having no competition is a good thing? They want to steal their ideas fine. They want to produce stuff cheaper than you, then you make your product better quality. I don't see the problem. Oh wait maybe its because then when you have a good idea, you can't milk it for 10 years? How is that helping the consumer? Thats my question. Like the proximity sensor. It was a good idea. Apple will be the first person to the market with it and thus has an edge. I think 3 months later, it should be fine if other companies start incorporating it. I don't think its cool that companies don't add it for years cause they can't. They cannot add a feature that would potentially increase the battery life just because another phone has the feature. Not everyone can afford an iPhone and some might actually want a proximity sensore, would it really be so bad if nokia started including some in their basic phones? I'd like that feature, I don't want an iPhone. I think thats unfair. Reducing my choices just so Apple can add gain more money.


They have HUGE MARGINS. And how are they going to go down? They have always had HUGE margins. Thats the facts. And $2k maybe reasonable for a MacBook Pro, but not everyone wants a 15" Macbook Pro. Some just want a 15" that can run OS X on the cheap. And maybe its not profitable for Apple to do that, but thats why allowing clones would be a good thing because then they could produce model ranges that you dont want to because your margins would not be enough.

Copying is a way of business, thats a fact. Why is it a bad thing? If you think it reduces R&D to nothing, well I would like to know how much it cost Apple to come up with the idea of a proximity sensor. Even if someone stole the idea, they would still need to develop a solution. They could not just decide to start manufacturing. They still have to pay R&D, the difference is we don't have all these good ideas being used solely for certain companies making the consumers pick and choose. I believe that the consumer is king. Not the company. Corporations make far enough money, I don't want to hear whining that it would cut into their profits. Maybe if Apple wasn't making money, but they don't seem to have a problem making money from charging us $50 for cables.


Oh and not updating their products: All Product lines are due for an update except for the Macbook. Not dancing around, eh....

Chef Medeski
May 26, 2007, 04:43 PM
You'd rather there were clones so that Apple would sell fewer of their own iPhones, AND be forced to take less profit on each one. I'm not sure that would help the iPhone remain a growing and well-supported product. Which is what I, as a consumer, do want it to be.

Why do I care if the iPhone grows? I care about how much it costs to me? You honestly want me to care about a company's sales outlook. Like seriously corporations don't care about what consumers think? Why should consumers have to worry about the poor little company that won't be able to hit 60% marketshare in 2 years!

nagromme
May 26, 2007, 06:26 PM
Why do I care if the iPhone grows? I care about how much it costs to me? You honestly want me to care about a company's sales outlook. Like seriously corporations don't care about what consumers think? Why should consumers have to worry about the poor little company that won't be able to hit 60% marketshare in 2 years!

Nobody here cares about sales numbers for their own sake. We care about having innovative products that keep getting improved. Patents actually do help that to happen. As a consumer I do want the iPhone to grow: not in numbers or dollars, but in models, options, features, specs, compatibility, and support.

Copying is a way of business, yes. Stealing patented inventions is not. You're looking at a very small slice of the picture. I assume you think patents should not exist--and that's an interesting idea, worth discussion, and does have some merits. But I don't think you've thought through the implications fully. You think we'd see better products cheaper if patents were not enforced. That's really not the case, as the economic incentive to invent would be all but gone.

If you're happy to see your neighbor take your idea and add his own to it, then why would anyone ever throw money away inventing something? It would only help the copycats. Second versions are generally better than first ones. With a patent, the second version still makes money for the inventor. I don't find that to be such a bad thing. It's how business works, as you might say :)

I agree that SOME patents are nonsense--and some of Apple's are, I feel (as I mentioned in my first post). But not all of them.

See also--economic discussion of the pros and cons of allowing patents to exist:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent#Rationale

And again, I'd be happy to see evidence that Apple's "HUGE MARGINS" on the iPhone--taking R&D into account--are significantly higher than the margins made on competing devices of equal quality and value. I don't think you have those numbers--I think you are making assumptions.

reverie
May 27, 2007, 06:23 AM
Just look at the fashion industry. It lacks any kind of protection for new creations. Anybody is free to copy new designs. Yet the industry is highly creative.

mambodancer
May 27, 2007, 10:10 AM
Boasting about the number of patents is a tribute to your lawyers not your engineers!

I think you got that backwards. If you don't really have something worthwhile to protect (which were created by your engineers) then all the patents in the world won't protect you from the other guys lawyers.

shadowfax
May 27, 2007, 10:44 AM
Just look at the fashion industry. It lacks any kind of protection for new creations. Anybody is free to copy new designs. Yet the industry is highly creative.
Actually, I believe that materials, the only really scientific/engineering part of "fashion" is quite patentable. spandex, goretex, etc., etc. I'm quite sure that stretch jeans were patented.... apparently the Marines tried to patent camouflage. Fashion is 100% on the surface. You see a piece of clothing by Georgio Armani, and then you see something by someone else that looks EXACTLY the same or like a crappy copy, and whoever designed that is a loser. They have to come up with something new as well as copying, and that's easy to do in the Fashion industry. There are Armani and Gucci rip-offs on the street, and that's illegal.

Again, the industry is "highly creative" because there is not a lot else to do. If you weren't creative, you'd be designing jeans for Wal-Mart, or something. The fashion industry isn't a real "industry" in the sense that the Computer industry is. It's more like the avant garde segment of the Clothing industry at large. I would argue that due to it's small size and how much it's on the surface, that it is a pretty self-regulated industry in terms of creativity. It would be very nice if designers in the computer industry could do that, but it would require an incredible, impossible amount of work.

nagromme
May 27, 2007, 12:36 PM
Just look at the fashion industry. It lacks any kind of protection for new creations. Anybody is free to copy new designs. Yet the industry is highly creative.

Without patents, computers would still have innovative external fashions :) (Well... at least Apple's would!) However, they would have far fewer innovative components, features, functionality... aka inventions.

SPUY767
May 27, 2007, 08:50 PM
Hey, in an order to break up the angry back and forth, were those not the creepiest hands anyone has ever seen?

nagromme
May 28, 2007, 04:34 AM
It's well known that Apple employs tree frogs in R&D.

AlmostThere
May 28, 2007, 04:41 AM
I think you got that backwards. If you don't really have something worthwhile to protect (which were created by your engineers) then all the patents in the world won't protect you from the other guys lawyers.

It is the lawyer's job to get as many patents and ensure those are as broad as possible for the client. That's one of the key reasons that patents are generally filed by lawyers and not by the inventors themselves.

Worth protecting is a very loose term - take the Creative iPod interface patent, for example. Following a lengthy legal battle, Apple might well have managed to get that patent overturned, but it was 'worth protecting' from Creative's point of view as they got Apple to pay for a licence, even though the actual 'invention' was trivial.

In this case, they didn't need 'all the patents in the world', just one.