Published in News

Apple and Google spend more on patents than innovation

by on09 October 2012

You probably were not expecting this

It seems that Apple's patent war with Samsung really has killed off innovation after all. According to the New York Times the market place for new ideas has been corrupted by software patents used as destructive weapons.

According to a Stanford University more than $20 billion was spent on patent litigation and patent purchases in the last two years. Last year spending by Apple and Google on patent lawsuits and buying up patents exceeded spending on research and development of new products. Academics say that some aspects of the patent system, like protections for pharmaceuticals, often function smoothly, but do not appear to be working for the tech industry.  

Richard Posner, a federal appellate judge who has helped shape patent law said that there is real chaos in the IT patent field and the standards for granting patents are too loose. While there have been patent trolls, one of the reasons the patent war has become such common place is thanks to Apple.

The Times, which normally acts as Apple's unpaid press office, said that senior executives made a deliberate decision over the last decade, after Apple was a victim of patent attacks, to use patents as leverage against competitors to the iPhone, the company’s biggest source of profits.

Apple has filed multiple suits against three companies HTC, Samsung and Motorola Mobility. Apple’s claims which include ownership of minor elements like rounded square icons and of more fundamental smartphone technologies competitors will have to change they way they design phones. HTC, Samsung, Motorola and others have filed numerous suits of their own, also trying to claim ownership of market-changing technologies.

When asked by the Times why it was spending so much money on patents and not as much on R&D, Apple said that the company needed to protect its inventions. It claimed that legal action in a patent dispute, is only as a last resort. Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, said patent battles had not slowed innovation at the company, but acknowledged that some aspects of the battles had “kind of gotten crazy.”

More here.

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