Tech Talk: Intellectual Property in a World of Innovation
Today we’re going to be doing something a little different. We’re going to be talking about a recent event in the tech world. Apple, creator of the iPhone, is suing Samsung, creator of the Galaxy line. The innovative and usually forward thinking company claims that the Samsung Galaxy has features that were stolen from the iPhone such as “edge-to-edge glass design,” “tap to zoom,” as well as other features. This legal battles has been going on for years and many different tech celebrities have been involved to varying degrees including Facebook, Ebay, HP, Dell, and even the big “G” itself, Google. But what does any of this have to do with you, the consumer? Well, the effects of this case could seep into the overall climate of the tech community and cause changes that may trickle down to you.
The Innovation Question
Innovation is the reason why we have the incredible technologies that we enjoy today. An engineer knew they could create something better, something more intuitive, and they did. But what fuels innovation? Different tech companies have different opinions on this. Some say that innovation is fueled by looking at someone else’s design and improving upon it, or perhaps integrating it in a different way. Other companies believe that innovation is fueled by being unable to borrow on the designs of others, therefore being forced to come up with your own. Both opinions are entirely valid, but what would it mean if legislation were put in place to stop people from borrowing ideas? It makes one think that there would be more compatibility issues that would arise. We use smart phones for a ton of different tasks, and the issue of compatibility is already in place. Would this get worse? Apple has been quoted that their legal battle is about more than money, but the short-sighted nature of their claims could have adverse effects on the tech world.
What could this mean for you?
Well, for starters, an Apple-favored ruling could result in stricter patent control which will lead to slower technology creation among other issues. There are hundreds of thousands of patents per smartphone. If the laws got stricter, then production would be slowed by a lot. Another issue in play is that if a company creates something that is perceived to have ripped off someone else’s patent, then that company could face a seizure of assets from the patent holder. This could spell serious disaster for small companies. For right now, this is being contained in the world of smart phones, but it is only a matter of time before the issue spreads to online platforms, software, and beyond. To quote Google, if this is allowed to stand, “it will lead to absurd results.” Right now, the case is being appealed, so stay tuned.
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