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BLOG: Apple, Samsung tablet war could be good for consumers

Jonny Evans | Aug. 31, 2012
The Apple versus Samsung spat's certainly grown partisan, but the connection between the two firms remains symbiotic.

There's lots of people who argue Apple shouldn't have been entitled to some of the patents it is fighting to protect. What they need to understand is that those matters were argued over in the courts as part of this case, and the legal system which both participants chose in preference to reaching a negotiated settlement declared that Apple's patents count. Those which don't were dismissed or put aside for a future judgment.

Those who argue against patent law would be advised to think on this: international business interests want to keep patent agreements as they are, though they would like changes to prevent so-called patent "trolling". Arguments to change the system may eventually prevail, but patent law as it is is not going to disappear fast. Too many corporations make too much cash out of the system as it is. 

Does the patent system need changing?

My biggest personal criticism of the way patent works today is the system's cost. The need to file and refile and to pay significant fees to patent authorities worldwide in order to win an international patent puts such protection outside the reach of individuals, creating a system systemically controlled by larger enterprises and corporations. 

I recall one instance in which I attempted to secure a trademark for one enterprise I was previously involved in. Unfortunately a trademark for that word was simultaneously filed by a large media company. We lacked the resources to successfully protest that filing and, while we were eventually able to agree a deal in which we won permission to use that trademark for our small enterprise at no cost, we were left unable to expand into other sectors. 

The existing system is expensive, complex and beyond the financial reach of most individuals. That's a scenario which enables larger players to gobble up the ideas of smaller operators, who lack the resources to protect their patents. It's a dog-eat-dog conflict, in other words. Think on this: no matter where you are in the debate, both Apple and Samsung are big dogs, certainly big enough to fight for themselves. Samsung's dog lost the fight. Apple may have been the larger dog this time round, but says it tried to avoid the fight in favor of sharing the dinner.

Better innovation ahead

That's not to say the repercussions of this conflict aren't impacting the industry. News from giant tech show, IFA, in Berlin, Germany this morning, is that Samsung has introduced a bundle of smartphones and tablets. Word from the show is that while all players are considering the impact of the US verdict, Apple's victory has not stifled innovation: but may force competitors to develop tablets that follow a different blueprint.


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