Apple Joins Lobbying Group to Influence Patent Legislation

Discussion in 'Mac Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 3, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Major US companies from various business sectors have joined together to form a lobbying group that opposes pending patent reform legislation proposed by Congress, reports Reuters. The new Partnership for American Innovation includes Apple, DuPont, Ford, General Electric, IBM, Microsoft and Pfizer.

    The change proposed by Congress would target patent assertion entities (PAEs), which purchase patents with the sole intention of licensing them to other companies or suing non-licensees for infringement. Companies, like Apple, want to limit the ability of PAEs to sue for infringement, but they are concerned that the proposed legislation may hurt actual innovations that need patent protection.
    Rather than limit what ideas are patentable, the group supports efforts to penalize patent trolls for filing frivolous lawsuits. Apple, Google and other technology companies recently asked the Supreme Court to make it easier for companies to collect attorney fees when patent holding companies lose infringement lawsuits. This allocation of fees, companies argue, would cut down on the number of frivolous suits.

    Apple reportedly is the number one target for patent trolls with an estimated 171 cases filed against the company in the last five years. Apple recently confirmed it has been sued 92 times in the past two years and faces 228 unresolved patent claims still in the court system.

    Article Link: Apple Joins Lobbying Group to Influence Patent Legislation
  2. macrumors 65816


    Jul 19, 2006
    I'd like to know if the patent trolls are lobbying to fight for their "right" to troll. :rolleyes:
  3. 69Mustang, Apr 3, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014

    macrumors 68000


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    I wonder how this is going to affect the Rockstar Consortium. I know the Congressional focus is patent assertion entities but isn't that another name for non-practicing entity or NPE's ? AFAIK Rockstar is considered an NPE.
  4. macrumors member

    Dec 14, 2012
  5. macrumors 65816


    May 13, 2010
    Washington, DC
    Rockstar is practicing, how do you mean it's an NPE?


    Only if you believe they're a patent troll - which would mean you have no idea what a patent troll really is.
  6. macrumors 603


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    Very much against Apple on this (oooh. I wonder who'll win? :) )

    I have no problem with anyone asserting a patent, if it's original work and (crucially) non-obvious / incremental work. I don't care if it's Apple, Google, Samsung, or a tiny firm that bought the patent off the inventor. I see no reason why the law should be biased towards the larger companies.

    It's concepts like one-click purchasing (Amazon), hyperlinks (BT tried to patent it, failed), and slide-to-unlock (Apple) that shouldn't be patents, along with scan-to-email (MPHJ Technology).

    I don't care who's trying to assert these patents. In a free-market society, being able to apply to a Government agency for a nationwide monopoly on a service/product/feature is something that should be done sparingly, carefully and thoughtfully. Not "Award them all, let the courts sort it out".
  7. macrumors 68020

    Mar 11, 2009
    I think you have no understanding about this situation or what patent trolls are.
  8. macrumors 68020

    Nov 10, 2007
    Hope you never think of something new and great that nobody else thought of, then try to make money off of it....

    If slide to unlock was so obvious, why were they the first to implement it?
  9. macrumors 603


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    I'm not opposed to patents, I just believe the 'bar' should be set far higher.

    As to why slide to unlock was obvious, look at the options:

    - One physical button press to unlock? Too easy to accidentally turn the phone on.
    - A combination of physical button presses to unlock? Doesn't work well on a device without a physical keypad or many buttons!
    - A touch-press/gesture to unlock? Easy to press accidentally, and requires the touch-screen to be constantly on meaning battery drain.
    - Unlock via motion using the accelerometer? Doesn't work well, as a device in a pocket could be accidentally triggered via motion.

    So the only unlock option left was a combination of physical button to activate the touch-screen plus some kind of on-screen gesture. All that Apple invented is basically a direction of slide! The reason no one did it before is because most previous devices had a physical keyboard so didn't have this problem.
  10. macrumors 68020

    Sep 23, 2008
    Does it matter? It's still petty.

    I agree with whooleytoo, patents should be granted sparingly and with good reasons. Patents are meant to be instrumental, not aims (i.e. property rights) in themselves. We use them to incentivise inventors by allowing them to monetise their inventions, but in exchange for disclosure. We allow this trade-off because society as a whole is then better off. Patents like the slide-to-unlock one are just making the patent system more cumbersome than it should be. With so many developers out there, the idea of being able to patent something simple as a slide-to-unlock feature is just laughable. But the reality is still that Apple can prevent anyone else from using that feature. All at the expense of everyone else.
  11. macrumors 68000


    Oct 1, 2004
    Mountains of Vermont
    Time to eliminate patents all together. Do the research, bring the product to market, make your money producing it and move on to new innovation before your enemy, er competition, catches up with you. That is the natural order of things and it would faster far greater creativity. All this patenting nonsense is stifling creativity.
  12. macrumors 68020

    Nov 10, 2007
    So Apple thought outside of the box, and came up with a solution that nobody else had thought of and implemented that helped them get rid of the physical keyboard, and your two paragraph explanation was obvious? <Shakes Head>


    You agree with whooleytoo, so you're wrong, also. Congratulations.

    Again, if it were so obvious and petty, show me all of the applications that showed up behind Apple's at the USPTO.

    Never ceases to amaze me how little people appreciate someone else's IP and work, when I know for a fact they would scream like wild banshees if someone tried to take their IP.

    There's also a ton of authors and songwriters in the world. I suppose you would eliminate copyright protection on fictional works and music, also?
  13. macrumors 68000


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    Rockstar is an NPE. A non-practicing entity (NPE) holds a patent/patents for a product(s) or process(es) but has no intentions of developing it. Non-practicing entities include universities, research organizations, and individual inventors lacking the resources to further develop something they have designed or created.

    Rockstar is a patent holding company, or as they say on their website, Intellectual Property licensing company. Rockstar is practicing as you say, but their practice is patent licensing, sales, and infringement protection of the Nortel patent portfolio. The 'P" in NPE means development of product or process. Rockstar doesn't do that.
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2011
  15. macrumors 6502

    Dec 8, 2011
    Good ideas often seem obvious after the fact. That doesn't invalidate the effort and thought put into creating them the first time.

    That said, I'm extremely hostile to the current state of patent law. Software patents need to be all invalidated and the rules changed to reject them, as the patent office originally tried to have things go before they were forced to accept software patents.
  16. macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Sorry, Apple, but not with you on this one. Patent law is broken, and I'd much rather err on the side of not enough protection than too much.

    After all, looked at from the perspective of the greater good, I'm a lot more worried about someone saying "I invented something that I can't use because of stupid patent law" than someone saying "I could invent that awesome thing, but I'm just going to sit on my ass and do nothing instead because someone will just copy it."

    Surprisingly enough, people and companies keep inventing things even when they can't patent them.
  17. macrumors 65816

    May 30, 2007
    Well, whooleytoo, so you're wrong.

    You seem rather confused about the difference between software patents, patents and copyright....
  18. macrumors 603


    Aug 5, 2010
    Has there ever been a completely agreed upon definition? The label seems like an obvious choice when applied to companies who negotiate in bad faith, yet in some cases it's applied to any company that attempts to monetize their patent holdings. The system in general is supposed to protect smaller inventors who may not have the money to bring their invention to market. I don't think it really accomplishes that though, especially if it means having to face a much larger company in court. These are the kinds of things that really should be decided through arbitration. As it is right now there's no way for a smaller company to afford many legal battles. On the other end, for a company the size of Apple the entire court process is too time consuming.

    You should be careful with that comparison. While this may be discussing patents, the source code itself is protected by copyright. If Samsung was suspected of trying to use a disassembler to get at the code itself (obviously with rewriting involved), that would be an entirely different accusation.

    That may negatively affect smaller inventors, but I question how well the system serves them.
  19. macrumors regular

    Sep 9, 2007
    Speaking as someone who invented a patented process more than ten years ago which is still in use in the computer industry today, I can tell you right now, I could pick any patent in the computer business and come up with a similar analysis of why it is obvious in retrospect.

    And yet mine, for example, was quite possible to implement for at least ten years before I implemented it, and nobody else did.

    The lesson from this? It is a thousand times easier to sit on the sidelines and tell people that they aren't as smart as you are than it is to actually come up with something yourself. And to a certain sort of person, it also seems to be more satisfying.
  20. hipnetic, Apr 3, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014

    macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    This. IP is nothing more than government-enforced monopoly privilege. If company X starts up the first hot dog stand in a town, and company Y comes around and starts up another hot dog stand across the street offering even better tasting hot dogs at a cheaper price, most everyone understands that to be a good thing. But if these IP laws were applied consistently, company X could enjoy their monopoly privileges for eternity.
  21. macrumors 603


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    I'm not talking about your patent (unless you invented swipe to unlock). If you want to discuss your patent, please feel free to provide the details here so we can. And I'm not saying all patents are unworthy/invalid. But many IMO should be.

    As a developer, there are two things that worry me in equal measure. The first is, if any of my products/features are good enough they'll be reproduced by others (in far less time than it took me to develop them).

    The second is that after months/years of work I'll be hit by a patent suit (by a company whose name & products & patents I've never heard of) because their patent covers similar functionality / process. And they'd claim - wrongly - that I was benefitting from their hard work.

    The former scares me because it could cost me a lot of potential business. The latter scares me because it could shut me down with just one letter.

    You seem to see just one problem, whereas I see two.
  22. macrumors 68030


    Oct 19, 2010
    Buffalo, NY
    That's good competition.

    The problem is when 'Ted's Hot Dogs' opens up a shop with bright yellow colors and a red logo in Helvetica, and a puppy dog mascot and people love their hot dogs.... then 'Teddy's Hot Dogs' opens a shop across town with the same bright yellow colors and a red logo in Helvetica, and the same looking puppy dog mascot....

    When people confuse Ted's and Teddy's and think they are the same franchise just different locations, this becomes illegal. It's not fair competition at that point - even though they are different places.
  23. KALLT, Apr 4, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2014

    macrumors 68020

    Sep 23, 2008
    No need to be snide. And copyright has nothing to do with this.

    You seem to be equating patents with traditional property rights, which is one of the reasons why patents have become so obtuse. You don't own your ideas once you write them down. People will naturally pick them up and build upon them to create new ideas that will spread likewise; innovation in a nutshell.

    Patents interfere with that process. Patent law is in fact economic policy and it is there to maintain innovation in sectors where free riding is a serious problem, particularly in investment-heavy sectors. We protect those sectors to prevent stagnation, patents are vital there. We don't grant patents to admire people's ideas, but we grant them to make sure that even more ideas will come forth.

    This slide-to-unlock feature does not deserve patent protection, because (1) it is a fairly obvious idea when considering that Apple was developing a touchscreen smartphone, and (2) Apple would have come up with that idea even without a patent, because they wanted to have it for their own phone. You don't need a patent for that, innovation is already happening. A patent would not have given Apple an incentive to create that feature, nor will it prevent Apple from creating new features like these in the future. Which is why I think that this patent is petty.

    This does not mean that I don't appreciate Apple for it, on the contrary, but I don't think that Apple should have a monopoly on that idea for 15 or 20 years. Their benefit was that they could include that feature in their phones first and demonstrated that they were a very innovative company. By the way, in 2012, an English court dismissed Apple's patent claim for its obviousness, referring to a similar function in a 2004 phone. Yet Apple is the one who claims legal protection.
  24. macrumors 68040


    Apr 18, 2011
    The little man invents something. And while he is busy raising the capital to bring it to market, some large corporation gets a sniff of the idea the little man had and beats him to market by copying. Without patents it'd be very hard to prevent IP theft and abuse.

    This would stifle invention. And make it solely in the domain if mega corporations who have the manpower and money to race things to market first. And this race by everyone would just lower the quality of products on sale by everyone.
  25. macrumors 604

    Jul 29, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    That would stifle the creativity of all small inventors and all garage inventors, the kind who quit their job to create something really cool and new, but have some massive corporation copy and bring the product to market first, while the small inventor is still trying to raise a bit of money to start some manufacturing. Instead the wife throws the real inventor out of the house for nearing bankruptcy, and some mega-corp reaps the profits.

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