Apple-Motorola Judge Questions Need for Software Patents

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Late last month, federal judge Richard Posner threw out one of the major U.S. cases in the ongoing patent battle between Apple and Motorola, and Reuters today publishes an interesting interview with Posner in which he discusses his view that patents have become too widely used and suggests that there may not be a need for software patents at all.

    Noting his belief that software and other industries do not require the same level of patent protection as industries like pharmaceuticals where hundreds of millions of dollars are spent to develop a single protected product, Posner indicates individual software advances require much less economic investment and much of the benefit is gained simply by being first to market.
    In Posner's ruling last month, he noted that Apple's patent on smooth operation of streaming video was in no way a monopoly on all streaming video and that barring an entire product over a single feature would be harmful to consumers. Posner also ruled against Motorola in its efforts to ban the iPhone over standards-essential patents that were to be licensed under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.


    Apple is of course involved in intellectual property disputes with a number of companies, with the cases including both software patents and design rights. Just this week, a ban on U.S. sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Nexus went into effect as Apple won preliminary injunctions, but the company also experienced setbacks in its battle with HTC in recent days. In those cases, both the U.S. International Trade Commission and a UK court ruled in HTC's favor, with the UK judge ruling that several of Apple's patents including one covering the "slide-to-unlock" feature are invalid in that country.

    Article Link: Apple-Motorola Judge Questions Need for Software Patents
  2. macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
  3. macrumors 6502

    Nov 2, 2011
  4. macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2012
  5. macrumors regular

    Jan 20, 2009
    for those thinking

    deregulate software sure...

    patents are evil only big pharma can have them

    no one dies if software messes up

    unless your software is running;

    bank transfers
    airplane autopilots
    missile defense systems
    lazer satellites
    drones flying over the usa
    machines that go Ping!
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 6, 2006
    Birmingham, UK
    He's speaking sense. However, all it will mean is Apple will go to another state with a sympathetic judge next time around.
  7. macrumors newbie

    Nov 8, 2011
    I think you are confusing patents with safety regulations.
  8. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 28, 2011
    Is it just me or is this judge straying into Judicial Activism with this kind of pontificating?

    I mean the question at hand was not "Are intellectual patents a good idea in this industry or not?", but more like "Is this particular patent being infringed upon?".

    If we do away with Intellectual Property Patents i think we can agree that the motivation for innovation will be greatly hindered.
  9. macrumors 65816


    Jan 12, 2005
    Of course that's true, but Posner is a respected and influential judge. Some good may come of this statement.
  10. macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2011
    It's a tough issue, because there's arguments for both sides, but I think the decision has to be where it will benefit consumers and not hurt them. Since we're the ones buying these products.

    The patent system is just a mess and needs some revamping. I'm on the fence. I can see positives and negatives on both maintaining and eliminating the need for software patents. As a developer it sucks that others just steal your inventions, but as a consumer it also sucks that these patents pose limitations for us.
  11. macrumors 603

    Oct 14, 2008
  12. macrumors regular

    Jul 3, 2012
    While I don't think we should do away with IPP, I DO think rules need to be put in place to prevent suits like the Apple vs Samsung case. If google were to take Apple to court over the Notification pulldown, they would likely win (or at least cause a stir) but I doubt they will because it's pointless. At some point, Apple, and others alike, need to stop litigating and start innovating.
  13. macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2008
    Not with software patents. Can you imagine the innovation that would have been lost if quicksort or merg sort was patented? Or if Oracle was able to patent 'rangeCheck'?
  14. macrumors 65816


    Jan 12, 2005
    There are a lot of people that think software code would be adequately protected by some sort of copyright rather than patent.
  15. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 28, 2011
    Well I feel that the Judge doesn't need to be leading this charge. Reforming litigation is a fantastic idea. Removing the incentive and safety to innovate is a horrible one.
  16. macrumors 603


    Feb 11, 2008
    Don't forget "frickin' sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their frickin' heads".....!!
  17. macrumors member

    Jun 28, 2012
    Fixed. You welcome.
  18. macrumors newbie

    Jan 29, 2004
    Absolutely right, tsunamiTC, NEVER question the system, just be a happy cog in the machine! Judges are not there to think, just to use the laws which our friendly corporations have already purchased.
  19. macrumors 6502

    Jun 28, 2011
    When everyone has finished suing each other they will each probably end up with more or less what they started with, minus the squillions that the lawyers have trousered - so this judge might well be the smartest person in the room right now.
  20. macrumors 68020


    May 6, 2010
    The United States
    Ping! Ping? Who cares about Ping? :rolleyes:
  21. macrumors member

    Sep 7, 2006
    Big business has the capital to protect their IP without patents. They tend to abuse the ridiculously obvious patents and keep smaller competition from forming.

    Patents should only be used to protect real innovations, and even then they should be heavily scrutinized when used by well-established big business against an individual, small company, or an upstart.
  22. macrumors regular

    Jun 19, 2012
    Posner is perhaps one of the greatest legal minds in the American legal system and if not for his somewhat extreme and polarizing views would and should be on the Supreme court. Very few people are as rational as he is.

    People should check out his blog that he runs with Becker (who is a Nobel Prize winning economist).
  23. macrumors Pentium


    Jan 28, 2009
    Quebec, Canada
    Common sense in all of this. All these injunctions only hurt consumers in the end, whatever side they are granted to (be it Apple or their rivals). There shouldn't be injunctions over nitpicking of small implementation details.

    Software patents in general have proven to be bad for innovation and advancement in recent years. They've become a force for stagnation as players constantly face hurdles in bringing new innovations where some small detail infringes existing patents outside of the "big picture" and in bettering existing solutions because they aren't the primary patent holder over them.
  24. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 28, 2011
    LOL i totally agree that the grounds for what constitute a "legally protectable concept" need to be clear.

    However, unless patent attorneys and the patent registry are not clear on the line between a patentable(?) concept and what is not then we could see that kind of stuff.

    The issue at hand is the fact that these companies, Google, MS, Apple feel the need to protect themselves at every turn. So they resort to over patenting perhaps.

    Are there other ways that the market can protect this kind of IP?? Yes.
  25. macrumors 6502a

    Mar 30, 2010
    They are killing progression in most software markets. The worst part is most people don't even know a patent exists until after they spend millions on development only to have it blocked in the end.

    I can understand broad software ideas, but to put a patent on a sliding button, multi-touch etc.. is just too far reaching and only large companies can afford the patent attorneys.

    They are not used for good in the software industry they are only used to harm.

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