There is a lot of misinformation surrounding the fine imposed on Samsung for infringing Apple patents but I think the case can be summed with two very important observations; the patent system is a bit broken and Apple are so far ahead of the game that it is unfair to consumers.
As a slightly relevant aside, I had a chat with some friends about both Apple and Wikileaks at the weekend and the contradiction in beliefs was stark. In short, and I am simplifying, a large company should share its secrets and a government shouldn’t. How does this tally with the ever growing number of ties between big business and government that we see in current life?
The common issue that people have with Wikileaks is not so muchboot about the embarrassment caused to diplomats but the understandable concern for frontline troops. However, if you really delve past the personal ick that Assange might inspire and the genuine concern for soldiers in the line of fire, it seems that people especially don’t want to know the details of the illegal operations of the states that we live in. That is where the uneasy feeling of revulsion is born and all the rest is flapping at the mothlike vagaries of right and wrong.
Words like ‘redaction’, ‘journalistic integrity’, ‘national security’, ‘egotistical’, ‘subversive’ etc etc are used to dance around the issue and apply some kind of old-world logic to a very modern problem but the reality is that the diplomatic wires and records of thoughts and actions, which represent only a small fraction of the world’s geopolitical sphere of operations, are seen by many as innapropriate reminders of what is really happening and can be used to somehow point the finger of blame back at you and me.
As for governments, not so for Apple. Regardless of the fact that patents had been sought and obtained, many people believe that Samsung had every right to copy simple functions and presentation devices (not to mention iOS software code which ain’t so simple) and break the law. The selfishness of generation Y is leaking out all over the place here!
Having grown up with created, produced and marketed content freely available, we have lost the ability to distinguish between what is ours and what is somebody elses. Apple patented ideas, which went through the US patent law system, came out the other side and sold them. They did this (as of now) legally and following the same route that Samsung would have followed had they positioned themselves in that market at that point in time. Despite the adage that “Nothing is invented, everything is an inevitable consequence of history”, Apple were there, they invested best and brought to market first. The laws of the land are what they are and Samsung “wilfully” stole the content of those patents, rather than pay licence fees to Apple.
So, we are left in a strangely contradicting world where I would like patent laws to be reviewed but upheld to encourage innovators to profit while enjoying the freedom of easily accessible content and state secrets to be both exposed and protected making my life safer, more dangerous, more expensive and cheaper. We are living in weird times…