The Mobile Patent War

The Wired Interview with Samsung’s Chief Product Officer Kevin Packingham is a good jumping off point for understanding the patent wars between Apple and Android. Steve Jobs famously saw Android as a rip off that he was going to try to squash until he took his last breath. Since Jobs has passed, Apple has continued the fight against Android, mostly suing the hardware companies as a proxy for Google. But the key issue here is design. This exchange from the Packingham interview gets at the core issues:

Wired: It seems most of the patents that Samsung is either licensing to other folks, or using against competitors in patent suits, are related more to technology than design — 3G technologies and other wireless technologies, for example. But what’s used against Samsung most often focuses on design. Does Samsung just not have a ton of design patents? Or is it just impossible to patent a rectangular piece of glass with a touchscreen, which every smartphone and tablet has today, and is under dispute in the Apple trial?

Packingham: In terms of patents, we have a made lot of contributions in the design space as well. I would say the patents we’re struggling with — where there’s a lot of discussion and litigation right now — are around these very broad design patents like a rectangle. For us, it’s unreasonable that we’re fighting over rectangles, that that’s being considered as an infringement, which is why we’re defending ourselves.

Hopefully the entire industry is in the position now where we have to defend ourselves and say, “Look, it’s unreasonable for us to be in the position of claiming that there is design, claiming that there is some sort of protected property, around a rectangle.” So I would say, yeah, we have design patents as well, but they’re not as simple as the rectangle. And so that’s where I think you see a little bit of this challenge.

In some cases, for most of us in the industry, it’s defying common sense. We’re all scratching our heads and saying, “How is this possible that we’re actually having an industry-level debate and trying to stifle competition?” Consumers want rectangles and we’re fighting over whether you can deliver a product in the shape of a rectangle.

Logically, as an engineering and manufacturing company, it makes more sense to focus on the things that are really relevant and we think are truly intellectual property. They are truly unique, and have come intrinsically out of the investments we made in R&D. A rectangle did not come out of R&D investment that we’ve made. Some of our products happen to be in the shape of a rectangle, but I wouldn’t consider that to be an art or a science that we’ve created.

That’s Samsung’s view. Apple has a different take. Apple is a design company as much as a technology company. If you asked Apple, they would say their design elements are one of the most important distinguishing elements in mobile and elsewhere. As such, they want to protect the advantage this gives them over competitors. Apple’s own design guru Jonathan Ive says it well in an interview with the Telegraph:

“Our goal isn’t to make money. Our goal absolutely at Apple is not to make money. This may sound a little flippant, but it’s the truth. Our goal and what gets us excited is to try to make great products. We trust that if we are successful people will like them, and if we are operationally competent we will make revenue, but we are very clear about our goal.”


“Apple was very close to bankruptcy and to irrelevance [but] you learn a lot about life through death, and I learnt a lot about vital corporations by experiencing a non-vital corporation,” he told the British Business conference. “You would have thought that, when what stands between you and bankruptcy is some money, your focus would be on making some money, but that was not [Steve Jobs’] preoccupation. His observation was that the products weren’t good enough and his resolve was, we need to make better products. That stood in stark contrast to the previous attempts to turn the company around.”

With Samsung now going to court against Apple, this is really the only question jurors need answer: is Apple’s design prowess patentable and to what level of granularity?

My own view is that Apple is overreaching but that’s irrelevant. This is a jury trial and what they say is all that matters. It will be interesting to see how this turns out both in terms of the mobile market, but also in terms of competition in technology.

Samsung Product Chief: ‘It’s Unreasonable That We’re Fighting Over Rectangles’ | Gadget Lab |

Google at Center of Samsung-Apple Phone Patent Trial –

Apple design chief Sir Jonathan Ive: iPhone was ‘nearly axed’ – Telegraph

Apple granted patent for predictive text input UI

Dozens of iPhone, iPad Prototypes Shown in New Apple v. Samsung Filing – Ina Fried – Mobile – AllThingsD

German Court Bans Motorola Products Using Microsoft Patented Format – Ina Fried – Mobile – AllThingsD

Apple, Google Line Up to Bid for Kodak’s Patents –

Motorola Android devices banned in Germany after losing patent case against Microsoft


The goings on at Twitter are significant because it is clear that Twitter feels under the gun to monetise its user base and that will mean playing hardball with ancillary services. Companies like Stock Twits which are dependent on Twitter to a degree will find life difficult soon.

Twitter Launches Clickable Stock Symbols, StockTwits’ Howard Lindzon Says “Hey, We Already Do That!” | TechCrunch

Critic Of NBC Olympics Coverage Has Twitter Account Suspended for Posting Exec’s Email | TechCrunch

Stepping on Stock Twits’ Toes, Twitter Rolls Out the Cashtag – Mike Isaac – Social – AllThingsD



FT Alphaville » Regional debt in Italy is not like regional debt in Spain

Spanish recession deepens in second quarter | Reuters

Merkel’s Risky Weapons Sales Signal Change in German Foreign Policy – SPIEGEL ONLINE



Russian opposition: Punk prayer | The Economist

Henry Blodget Pins Hope in Business Insider –

Nokia Confirms Close Of Last Finnish Handset Factory: 780 Job Cuts To Follow | TechCrunch

Spotify Finally Launches Free Mobile Radio For U.S.-Based Android Devices | TechCrunch

Mortgage approvals slump to 18-month low | Money |

Lehrer resigns from The New Yorker : CJR

Sober Look: Argentina’s dollar deposits down 42.3% from the October peak

Argentina’s new oil rules “worse than nationalisation” | beyondbrics

GM Ramps Up Risky Subprime Auto Loans To Drive Sales; Taxpayers Still Own 26.5% –

George Osborne: the worst of all the British chancellors I’ve known | Politics | The Observer

Octopus: Read This Book to Understand Wall Street | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone

Bungled Bank Bailout Leaves Behind Righteous Anger – Bloomberg

We’ll only know the economy is recovering when bond yields start rising again – Telegraph Blogs

‘Big Government’ Isn’t So Big by Historical Standards. It’s Also Shrinking. –

Puerto Rico’s debt overload | MuniLand

Comments are closed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More