Apple must stop going in circles over patent infringement

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Sorry if this blog appears to be turning into an Apple bashing contest but I think even the most avid Apple fan boy would accept things are starting to get a tad silly.

Last week, the company was forced to rewrite a statement it was, in-turn, forced to post on its website by the courts, proclaiming to UK customers that Samsung had not infringed its patents when designing the Galaxy Tab devices.

Initially it had written an open letter detailing the ruling but basically throwing it back in the judges’ faces, citing all the times it had won its legal battles and apparently proved Samsung’s guilt.  

Unsurprisingly, the courts were less than happy about this and made Apple rewrite the statement within two days and make it more prominent on its homepage.

Apple did as it was told but managed to ensure that, even though the link to the statement was on its UK homepage, a special piece of code ensured it always appeared below the fold of the page, regardless of what device you visited the site on.

The childishness of this is infuriating and continuing to play games with the legal system is incredibly disrespectful to the UK courts. On top of this, it also seems like a bit of a dumb tactic as not only does it grow the attention of the press around the case, the judges involved have already shown they won’t be made fools out of and could yet again drag the company through the courts.

But, if this ongoing saga wasn’t enough, Apple has now launched yet another case against Samsung in the US, just a matter of months after it was awarded $1bn in damages by a Californian court ruling the South Korean firm had infringed its iPad patents.

Why has it launched yet another suit? Well, it seems Apple was waiting for Samsung to roll-out the Android version 4.1 mobile operating system – codenamed Jellybean – to then leap on its products again and say “Look! They are still copying us!”

The official statement says it wanted to ensure every variant of the Galaxy range, now including the Nexus handsets, as well as the Note ranges and the Galaxy SII smartphones, contained the same infringements, but it just seems like another excuse to try and embarrass Samsung, win some cash they don’t need from the same court and bore us technology journalists to death.

The thing is I think it is Apple that should be embarrassed, not Samsung. Due to its incessant legal action, the idea of patent infringement has become a joke to many and is no longer being taken seriously. It looks like large companies see this as the new way of getting free publicity and are happy with the result of a media circus around them whether they win or lose.

On the other side, the fear has been cast into smaller companies who could never fight cases like this and will be afraid of innovating in case their designs are accused of patent infringement – the differing rulings on either side of the Atlantic prove it depends who is in the court on the day on which way the axe would fall.

But for Apple itself, I think it is making the firm looked scared and unable to face competition. If a company will spend that many millions of dollars on protecting a rounded corner of a smartphone, it doesn’t sound like it has much up its sleeves for the future.

Yes, if people blatantly copy your design, you have a right to feel wronged and the law backing you to take them down. But Apple is going round and round in circles in different countries across the globe and would better spend that money on Johnny Ive and his team to start innovating again rather than rereleasing iPads and hoping the market will stick with it. 

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