THE FRUIT THEMED peddler of Iphones, Apple is trying to use the patent system to gain a monopoly on the smartphone market.
Over the weekend it was announced that Apple is suing Motorola, claiming that Motorola's highly successful Droid smartphone violates its patents.
What Apple is saying is that Motorola basically copied the Iphone. Court documents said Apple has patents on "smartphones and associated software, including operating systems, user interfaces, and other application software designed for use on, and loaded onto such devices."
The six patents involved could probably be applied to any smartphone out there. If Apple wins then Motorola's smartphones will be pulled from the shelves and damages may be awarded to Apple, which is also asking that treble damages and attorney fees be awarded.
That could spell the end of Motorola and then Steve Jobs can move on to the next Android handset maker until the whole world will have to buy Iphones and only download software that he approves.
It is a nightmare scenario, even worse than being forced to listen to a duet with Craig David and Céline Dion on an Italian game show filmed in a barn as part of a tribute to Itunes.
It means that Apple will rule the world not on the basis of coming up with unique ideas, but for ruthlessly exploiting the bizarre US patent system. Of course it is doubtful that Apple ever had an original idea.
It seems that Motorola had gotten wind of Apple's plans. For the past two two weeks it has been filing applications asking that Apple's patents be invalidated.
Microsoft is trying a similar trick, mostly by trying to suppress the Android OS and the smartphones that run it by suing a handset maker, claiming that the software nicks its ideas.
Either way it is not helping anyone. If the anti-Android lobby wins then the world will be stuck with proprietary software designed for it by Microsoft and Steve Jobs. If they lose, it will have been a waste of time and money which would have been better spent on coming up with new ideas.
It is time that the patent system is overhauled so that companies get back to competing on the basis of goods and services rather than being given court appointed monopolies over patents that are so broad that you can land a 747 sideways on them.
It looks like there is no will in the US to reform its stupid patent system, and as a result users will either have to pay more for pointless court cases or they will be forced to surrender to the empire building of Microsoft and Apple. µ
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