Apple's 2007 Lobbying: Patent System Reform, Education Tax Breaks

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Sep 3, 2007.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    The Associated Press (via reveals that Apple has spent $720,000 on lobbying the U.S. Federal Government thus-far in 2007.

    Topics of interest to Apple appear to be updating the U.S. patent system, and advocacy of bills to increase funding for technology in education and provide tax breaks for spending on research and development.

    Many technology companies, including Apple, are interested in an update to the patent system that would help weed out bad patents by allowing companies to re-evaluate them after they are granted. Such an update could limit costly court battles.

    Article Link
  2. macpeter macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2006
    Glasgow, Scotland

    Anything which supports research must be good :)
  3. bobobo macrumors member

    Aug 1, 2007
    Dam aristocracy. I love Apple's engineering while not perfect or even properly done. I can not stand aristocracy. I am going to have to say I am not happy about the political situation in America.
  4. BKKbill macrumors 6502


    Not much in the scheme of things but if anything can help slow down the constant and never ending court battles. I'm sure Apple spends this much for lawyers in a day.
  5. DaBrain macrumors 65816


    Feb 28, 2007
    ERIE, PA
    You and millions of others! :(
  6. swingerofbirch macrumors 68040

    Oct 24, 2003
    The Amalgamated States of Central North America
    I don't really get all this stuff about technology in education. To me it just seems like buzz words. Computers for the purpose of educating are evolutionary and not revolutionary. Computers bring text, media, and communication together. We've already had all those elements in books, videos, and human interaction.

    To me the idea of teaching a child to use a computer is like going to school to teach a child to watch television. You're just teaching a child to be a consumer. I hope that when they say they want more technology in education they mean actually bringing children closer to the technology, in terms of programming, etc, and not just becoming proficient technology consumers.

    For example, those one-to-one laptop programs to me seem like a waste of money. I don't think it's vital for a child to learn any particular program or operating system, but to learn to become sharp at problem-solving in a variety of situations. A few years ago when I was in high school, I volunteered to be on the school's long-term range planning committee. The IT specialist reccomended phasing out all the Macs since most students once they entered the work force would be using Windows-based computers. I asked him point-blank: do you have evidence to show that students benefit from learning how to use only one operating system? I didn't push it further, but learning to be a Windows-user means you would be prepared for a job doing rather menial work, not for creating new paradigms in computing.

    I think we have to be careful that corporations don't push computer usage for the sole purpose of selling more of their products.
  7. twoodcc macrumors P6


    Feb 3, 2005
    Right side of wrong
    not necessarily, but i think i know what you mean. and in this case, i'm sure it's good :)
  8. iJawn108 macrumors 65816


    Apr 15, 2006
    more schools buying macs for their computer labs.
  9. retrocool macrumors newbie


    Jan 29, 2004
    Waste of money

    That's a waste of $720k, because no honest politician is influenced by lobbying.


  10. Babasyzygy macrumors member

    Nov 1, 2005
    Austin, TX
    Then you don't understand what activities can be covered by the word "lobbying." A lot of it can be providing basic education, or providing different perspectives, on issues. For example, the EFF's lobbying efforts are very important for educating legislators on the importance of Fair Use where they would otherwise only be hearing the voice of Big Media.

    Unfortunately legislators are human and do not have perfect knowledge on everything upon which they vote.
  11. kuebby macrumors 68000


    Jan 18, 2007
    Very true, and I think this is especially relevant about the current patent situation where the obvious answer seems to be that patents should be easy to receive when, in fact, we can see this isn't the case.
  12. Jenny1 macrumors newbie


    Jun 1, 2007

    It is a whole lot of $$$

    Letting big companies have tax breaks, Hmmm... Don't let "Big Apple" get off easy! LOL
  13. Stephen123 macrumors regular

    Sep 3, 2007
    Small Lobbying Budget

    So what this story comes down to is that Apple has a very small lobbying budget for a company of its size, and does some surprisingly benign lobbying.
  14. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    Well, we don't know what Apple's 501 budget is. Lobbying has sadly moved on from the traditional "here's a check senator" to PACs that have massive budgets and then endorse candidates during election season. It's a little loophole in the law because 501s can give a lot more than most corporations can due to the legal limits imposed on corporations for campaign donations. I guess modern voting has boiled down to choosing between a "douche" and a "terd sandwich" as the creators of South Park so eloquently remind us.
  15. Timothy Flint macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2006
    So they knows Apple exists

    Politicians are not smart. When they think of money, they think of Microsoft. Apple has got to be there to let then know there is an alternative.
  16. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    I think politicians are actually more likely to be Mac users than you think. Al Gore, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Rush Limbaugh, and many others in the political arena, are Mac users. Remember, politicians usually have one track minds, but they also want only the best for themselves;)
  17. newguineafan macrumors member


    Sep 3, 2007
    Why, oh, why is Apple joining the evil capitalist companies by lobbying? Just kidding.

    At least they're lobbying for a good cause though.
  18. exigentsky macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2007
    I'm glad Apple is doing something to, hopefully, improve the situation with software patents. It's pretty crazy now. This should be evident considering that Amazon patented 1-click buying. Software patents in general are not a good idea. It's like trying to patent e = mc^2.
  19. Analog Kid macrumors 601

    Analog Kid

    Mar 4, 2003
    The patent system is broken beyond repair, in my opinion. They are too expensive for individuals and too easy for large corporations. They aren't protecting innovation anymore, but rather are being used to threaten bankruptcy through litigation. Much of a patent depends on what is "obvious to one skilled in the art" but they aren't litigated by people skilled in the art. Judges and juries don't have unique qualifications in the field being litigated and it isn't feasible to expect them to. The number of bad patents in circulation is sickening.

    I like the idea of patents-- the idea of protecting innovation in exchange for teaching others the methods used in order to spur further innovation in the field. I like the belief that someone clever enough can carve out a place for themselves by being rewarded for their innovation though temporary exclusivity. In practice though, it's not about the quality of the innovation but rather the size of your legal budget.

    The article doesn't really say much about what Apple would like to see changed. If they're looking to stop bad patents from being approved (because right now the USPTO basically says that having a patent issued is only a mild endorsement at best, and can only be tested in court) then it has to be done in a way that doesn't increase the cost to smaller players. The place that the most changes need to be made, however, is in litigation.

    Using any one operating system does give kids exposure to concepts used in all operating systems. Computers are still seen as mysticism to many, and giving kids exposure to them so they can be confident in using a tool that is becoming ubiquitous is a good thing, in my opinion.
  20. EricNau Moderator emeritus


    Apr 27, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    And lucky for Apple there's not a single honest politician in the U.S. Government. :)
  21. BTW macrumors 6502

    Mar 4, 2007

    I'm sure they only shopped for the dishonest ones. Then again $720k doesn't buy you many of those. ;)
  22. MikeTheC Guest


    Apr 26, 2004
    Gallifrey -- Capitol City, Prydonian Sector
    Ok, some thoughts on this...

    First off, I remember an interview with Steve Jobs where he basically said that the notion of computers making education better -- on their own -- was just wrong, and has been proven so by numerous studies. What Steve's stated position was, as I recall, is that you have to recognize that computers are a means, and not an end.

    The problem with many schools' implementation of technology in their curriculum is that they use it as an end. The computer becomes a babysitter instead of just another tool, like paper, pencils, chalk and chalk boards, etc. This methodology isn't getting us anywhere, other than perhaps in the area of basic computer literacy. However, concomitant with achieving instructed computer literacy is having educators who are, themselves, computer literate and not computer phobic. And frankly far too many of the teachers I have either met or heard about anecdotally are computer illiterate. I mean, if a teacher can't tell the difference between network- or Internet-related web browsing issues and the fact that their monitor is turned off or unplugged, then how the heck can you expect that person to ever effectively instruct their students in technology?

    Putting more computers in schools in and of itself is about as useless as simply (and endlessly) pumping more and more money into the schools. Neither of them represent a direct mechanism of, nor a direct path for, the much-needed educational improvement in this country.

    Secondly, let's look at exposure to one OS vis a vis exposure to multiple operating systems.

    I've made this argument on this message board before, so if it seems a bit familiar to you, then no, it's not just your monitor or the brand of cola you've been drinking.

    The computer world used to include a cornucopic verisimilitude in both OS and hardware platforms, and that essentially coalesced by about 1994, polarizing into a MacOS/Windows world. And look at what's happened since. If you were to conduct a survey, you would find that most people you'd ask who presently own a computer never owned one prior to 1994, or 1995. And since most people who have owned computers from that time forward have owned Microsoft OS product-driven computers, it follows that most people today know nothing but Microsoft OS-based computers. This is something which Microsoft happens to exploit the living daylights out of, and is perhaps the single biggest reason (though not the only one) they've been able for so long to maintain their monopoly even in spite of their product's poor quality. This is a perfect example of the paradigm that "Ubiquity trumps Everything".

    I started using computers back in 1985, and really got into things (and into the mix) around 1987, while in high school. With apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien and King Theoden, I'm fortunate in my friends. I've used Apple IIs, C64s and C128s, Tandy computers including their CoCo, TRS-80s, and more, IBM-PCs running DOS, Amigas, Ataris -- in other words, a large portion of the gamut -- and so I am very cognizant of the nature, the existence and the benefits of alternatives. I also hail from a time where the computer enthusiast movement abounded. Now-a-days, it's a totally comoditized market with few true practitioners, and mostly just freeloaders and those who want to have the status without actually rolling up their sleeves and doing anything to earn it.

    I have incalculably benefitted from using more than one OS; and I have equally-well benefitted from learning from those who were (and still are) computer enthusiasts. Anyone who argues the view contrary to this one is wrong, ignorant and hopelessly short-sighted. (They're also a few other things, but I won't mention those words here since this is a "family-friendly" message board.)

    Thirdly, let's take a look at the software patent situation.

    This is a joke, and it's the worst kind of joke. It's turned a system that was supposed to spur innovation into a monster which stifles innovation in favor of valuing only the first person to "get there". It's turned the system upside down and into a minefield, and if it hasn't already it's sure to soon become the bane of America's -- and perhaps the world's -- existence. The E.U. shot down software patents, and while I'm proud of them for it, I'm ashamed of my own government for not doing the same thing.

    Hey, I've got an idea. How about in this next election cycle, we kick everyone out of office everywhere, and put in nothing but brand new people. Sure, they may not know the ropes, and yes they might not act as a cohesive whole, but at least it won't be such an easy job for the business world to control all of them. And maybe, just maybe, if they don't go passing as many new laws, we won't have as many bad laws and future battles to fight.
  23. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    First off, let me say that I like your writing. Most of us here(including me!) don't usually bother with well structured arguments. Well done:)

    However, with that part of your post^^^, I have some issues. I don't know what state you live in, but in California, all Assembly members and State Senators have term limits. I believe they are currently two terms each (equal to four years for Assembly members and I think eight years for senators). This sounds good right? New blood is guaranteed every few years right? Wrong. What ends up happening is political aids and lobbyists (there's that word again;)) end up "helping" the newely elected senators and assemblymen. In essence, the office is on a continual rotation, with the only constant being the root cause of the problem. In truth, the more experience a politician has, the less likely they are to lose sight of the more important long-term goals of a government.

    For example, LBJ was a career politician. His strength was in parliamentary politics. His ability to control both the House and the Senate within a matter of years was amazing. Now contrast this with the fairly young and inexperienced JFK. Sure JFK looked good on TV, but in reality, he was a poor leader. Most of his ambitions were blocked by his own party in the House and Senate. Only LBJ's relationships with powerful senators and House leaders allowed some legislation to go through. History shows us that in the end, after more than two years, JFK hadn't been able to pass any meaningful legislation. Contrast this with LBJ, who after only two years, was able to craft and pass landmark legislation, including the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, and Medicaid. Johnson's experience was what allowed him to do all this.

    Now, if we were to kick out all the people we could in 2008, which would include 435 House members and leaders, the President (duh), and 33 Senators, and even if we were able to stop all lobbying, donations by corporations (and consequently individuals as well), we would have an entrenched Senate. With a 67 vote majority, there would be endless pigeon holding, filibustering, and "Nay" votes on the floor. No president would be able to sign a law which dies on the Senate floor, and our situation might end up being worse because there would be a fear to act. Not to mention the fact that the newely elected House members and leaders (remember, 435 of them) would have to learn procedure before they would be effective as leaders.

    So I guess it comes down to the fact that the only people who are strong enough to stand politics are the very people we have elected right now (or those we will elect in a year and two months).

    I think a much better solution would be to demand more out of our reps. There's nothing wrong with making them disclose who they speak with, who they associate with, and from whom they've recieved money. If we want a better government, it's up to us to demand one.
  24. Mgkwho macrumors 6502a

    Mar 2, 2005
    I don't think it's a waste of money. The issues seem wholly positive to me, so go Apple.

  25. EricNau Moderator emeritus


    Apr 27, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    Exactly how should I interpret, "provide tax breaks for company spending on research and development"?

    ...Said company would be given tax breaks for product R&D? I'm not sure I understand why companies should be given tax breaks for developing new products. :confused:

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35 September 3, 2007