I just skimmed an article arguing the Apple vs. Samsung case doesn’t really matter. It is a trend I’ve noticed on Slashdot as of late where articles increasingly touch on things like patents and lawsuits rather than actual technology.
These copy and patent cases have little actual meaning, yet they are really dangerous. These companies are using the courts and patents to hurt competitors. It is nothing more than an expensive tactic that we pay for as a society. We should be angry that companies are using our courts as tools in their quest to gain marketshare and fight competitors. If that was the intent by providing things like patents, then we need to completely rethink the way we protect the ideas of others.
The root of the issue comes down to the ability to compete. A patent can be a valuable asset when you are talking about an inventor trying to build a business. The inventor can use the patent as a means of protecting the idea against those that can immediately copy and bring a product to market. When we are talking about companies like Apple and Samsung, both have no problems whatsoever taking an idea from patent to product reasonbly quickly. Do they really need patent protection when they have the means to beat competitors fairly? Should we allow these companies to sue simply because the cases look the same?
The situation is similar to privacy for celebrities. The courts have ruled that when a person is considered a celebrity, you can use images taken in public without that person’s consent. I’m not entirely sure of the logic of the court, but it makes some sense in my mind. Famous people could create an entire industry based on suing news corporations for unsanctioned photos. Similarly, if a celebrity doesn’t want a photo to be taken, they have the means to prevent it from happening. Most of these patent lawsuits are not about protecting ideas. They are celebrity companies using the patent system as business strategy.