Apple vs. Samsung: In America, Even a ‘Fart’ can be Patented (Trouw, The Netherlands)
Did the $1 billion ruling against Samsung that its Galaxy smart phone infringed on Apple iPhone patents go too far? Here are two editorials – one from the Netherlands and one from Samsung’s home country of South Korea, that argue against the decision – but for starkly differing reasons.
The first editorial from Trouw of the Netherlands, headlined Apple vs. Samsung: In America, Even a ‘Fart’ can be Patented, argues that the U.S. patent system has become absurd to the point that anything can be patented, which diminishes innovation and harms consumers:
The outcome of the legal battle between Apple and Samsung illustrates the failure of patent law – and certainly U.S. patent law. Apple rejoices that the judgment has made it clear that stealing is prohibited. That is true. But it begs the question of what you can make your own property.
The (American) patent regime has ballooned so much that every fart can be patented. A device that fits in the palm of your hand therefore contains tens of thousands of patents. That is absurd.
If a patent system becomes so extensive that everything can be patented, it brings innovation to a halt just as surely as not having one. Because one can’t think of anything new without infringing patents, none of which you knew existed.
Apple presents itself as an innovative company. In fact, Apple inhibits innovation, and the company is primarily a champion at extending a monopolistic position – a monopolistic position that it will lose anyway. Apple is taking a rearguard action, made possible by a bankrupt patent system.
And from South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo, in an editorial headlined Apple vs. Samsung: More Proof that American Industry has Lost its Edge, the newspaper argues that the California court ruling in favor of Apple shows that Americans have not only lost their industrial prowess, but that they are sore losers. JoongAng Ilbo columnist Sunny Yang looks back at recent semiconductor and electronic history to show that if the U.S. hadn’t sat back on its laurels for so long, companies like Apple wouldn’t be using patriotism and the courts to try and recapture their lost innovative dominance:
It isn’t entirely wrong to assert Americans discovered, invented and created almost every cutting-edge technology. They were great builders – but not such good defenders. If they hadn’t been so self-indulgent with their pioneering work and endeavored to innovate and remain on top of the market, the latecomers would never have dared jump into the fray and attempt to outperform them.
But somewhere along the way, American cars and semiconductors became mediocre and failed to appeal to consumers. Blaming competitors for their underperformance hasn’t helped American industry before – and won’t help it now.
One newspaper article asked whether Apple, having lost its drive to innovate, can survive and win by simply appealing to American patriotism. Without deep self-reflection and a dedication to innovation, a strategy of relying on past supremacy will fail to save the American economy.
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