This patent thing has gotten stupid
Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways
So Samsung have to pay Apple $1billion because they infringed a load of their patents, many of which should never have been granted by the patent office.
I have this opinion because many of the patents concern solutions to UI problems or the implementation of specific design styles rather than actual hardware inventions which many of us tend to associate with the patents office.
In the face of the recent patent wars, where patents and even companies are being traded for patents, the concept of the patent needs to change radically.
So here’s my uneducated and ill-informed view:
Patents should only be granted on things where proof of investment can be given. This would be either for things already invented or projections on the cost of developing something.
Once a patent is granted that patent lasts for either a given timeframe or until a point where the originators have earned profit above their initial investment. This gives them time to gain an advantage from their invention, without potentially crippling the market for a long period of time. Also in this time they may still license their invention as they do now.
So pretty much all the stupid Apple patents (btw I own three apple products so I’m not an Apple hater) like equal rounded corners on phones, slide to unlock and the icon based home screen would never have been granted. Also while we’re at it let’s scrap the Amazon one-click button patent too.
The problem is that patents have been granted on UI or design implementations that are too generic to be patented and therefore only in use by one manufacturer. Of course we don’t want Samsung making a copy of the iPhone but copyright laws should stop devices appearing too similar whilst still freeing up ideas like slide to unlock.