Is Apple Right To Defend Its Patents and Trademarks So Aggressively?

Posted on February 23, 2013 by Joseph Kennedy

This last year has been an interesting one for Apple. Of course this was the first year that the company has been forced to do without its leader Steve Jobs, and it’s also been a year of big releases from the ill-fated new maps and iPhone 5, to the iPad Mini and re-vamped iPods.

Also Read: The Top Ten Moves by Apple that Steve Jobs Would Never Have Approved

But what Apple seems to have been doing more than anything else this year is… suing people. And it seems that everyone has come under fire from the tech giants. From Samsung who have been engaged in several lengthy battles, to Google over the cost of their wireless technology, to Amazon for their use of the word ‘App store’. But are all these attacks justified? Is Apple within their rights or are they just being bullies?

Apple trademarks and patents

Different Viewpoints

Of course your views on this matter are probably already defined by whether you pledge loyalty to Android or Apple. Most of us have a preference and there’s a rather bitter rivalry here that’s fought out in forums and the YouTube comments sections every day.

Meanwhile it seems that the judges are also split on this decision. Recently Apple’s claim that the Amazon App store was ‘false advertising’ was thrown out by judges, but on the other hand judges it seems were more sympathetic with Apple during the Samsung case forcing the latter to pay 1 million in damages and recall several products.

Being objective on this matter is tricky then, particularly as it’s not a black and white issue. On the one hand of course a company has a right to protect its patents which they will have paid for and worked hard for. At the same time though it’s important to remember that tech companies use each others’ patents all the time. Apple famously patented multi-touch technology a long time ago for instance, which now comes as standard in all smartphones and tablets. Patents are often quite tenuous and a bit of trickery can circumnavigate them. For instance the design patent Apple took out for a ‘square within another square’ is something that many people criticized and that is hard to backup.

And Apple themselves are also guilty of copying and using other people’s ideas too. They didn’t come up with the concept of a touchscreen of course, and many of the icons they are so protective over have been in use in similar forms for a long time now. Apple also work alongside many of the very companies they are suing in order to deliver the products they supply – the famed ‘Retina’ screen for instance is developed by Samsung of all people, while Apple relied on Google maps for a long time.

Can’t We All Just Get On?

This is an example of how innovation happens best when technology companies start working together. At the same time it’s worth bearing in mind that the real victims when a company is forced to remove a feature are the consumers – had courts prevented any other handset developer from using multi-touch none of us would have a realistic alternative to iPhone at all… which isn’t good for innovation or the consumer.

And it’s also worth noting just how important competition is for the development of new ideas and ironically for Apple themselves. Without a little competition, Apple wouldn’t be forced to innovate so rapidly and the market would come to a standstill.

More to the point Apple should think about how their actions might be damaging their public image, and if you take the viewpoint I’ve put forward in the last few paragraphs then you might indeed be thinking that Apple should stop bullying and start focusing on innovation. I leave you with the fact that Apple recently attempted to sue an online grocery store in Poland because it used the name ‘A.PL’. Make up your own mind…

About Joseph Kennedy

Joseph Kennedy is working for a leading criminal law firm in Moorabbin. He shares useful legal tips and advice on his blogs. When he is not busy working, he likes playing golf or reading a good book.

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