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Monday, 05 September 2011 10:30

Apple goes silly on patents

Written by Nick Farell
apple

If you worked for us you must have copied us
Jobs' Mob has come up with a novel method of claiming that it invented everything. In amongst the ITC court papers in the recent HTC versus Apple spat is an argument which claims that Andy Rubin got inspiration for Android framework while working at Apple, hence infringing an Apple API patent.

This means that Android started at Apple, just by virtue of the fact that one of its former employees happened to have invented it. If this logic was applied, it would mean that it did not matter where an employee worked in their life all their inventions would be legally owned by the first company they worked for.

Apple told the ITC that Android and Rubin's relevant background does not start with his work at General Magic or Danger in the mid-1990s. Rubin began his career at Apple in the early 1990s and worked as a low-level engineer specifically reporting to the inventors of the '263 [realtime API] patent at the exact time their invention was being conceived and developed. It is therefore no wonder that the infringing Android platform used the claimed subsystem approach of the '263 patent that allows for flexibility of design and enables the platform to be "highly customizable and expandable".

Now if people said that Apple invented Android, they would put them away. But Apple is claiming that Rubin's superiors at Apple were the inventors of that realtime API patent and he worked for them at the very time they made that invention. If the ITC buys this argument then the whole patent system will collapse as many people in the tech industry go on to invent things for other companies. Most people are expected to have learnt something from working in a company, and that is what job experience is all about. However Apple is is one of the few companies that believes it owns its employee's ideas long after they have left the company.


Nick Farell

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