In his capacity as a judge of the 7th circuit Court of Appeals, Richard Posner deep-sixed Apple's patent infringement lawsuit against Motorola. In his capacity as the world's foremost hyper-intellectual of all things jurisprudential, Posner told Reuters last July that he believes that not all industries need or deserve patent protection. He says the pharmaceutical industry, for example, has a better claim to intellectual property protection because of the huge investment required to develop drugs. Software, Posner said, doesn't need or deserve the protection -- the products cost less to develop and the companies benefit hugely from getting their gadgets into the market first, a benefit Posner says they get whether or not there are software patents.
In the wake of the decisive Apple victory over Samsung in its patent dispute last week, there's a whole new wave of commentary on the subject. According to the experts the Apple victory is either great for innovation, or just terrible. Take your pick. At The Atlantic, "What Apple's Legal Win Over Samsung Means for You, Technology, Design, and the World" rounds up reaction.
In the "Great" Camp:
The outcome will probably mean a broader range of devices and more options for consumers as rivals seek to avoid costly legal tussles, said Carl Howe, an analyst at Yankee Group. "This is a big win for Apple," said Howe, whose firm is based in Boston. "It's good for innovation. It says that if you create something new, others can't just piggyback on it. From a competition point of view, it says create your own stuff. It says copying is not OK." "Apple Patent Victory Seen Spurring Wider Range Of Smartphones"
In the "Terrible" Camp:
What troubles me is the verdict upholding the US Patent and Trademark Office's decision to say that, for example, Apple should have a legal monopoly on the pinch-to-zoom feature which I think is a great example of how the modern-day patent system has gone awry. Think about cars and you'll see that, of course, lots of different companies make cars. But they all have some very similar user interface elements. In particular, there's a steering wheel that you turn left and right to shift the wheels and there's a gas pedal and breaks that you hit with your right foot. Imagine if the way the automobile industry worked was that each car maker had to devise a unique user interface. So maybe GM cars would have a steering wheel, but Toyotas would have a joystick, and Honda you would steer with your feel and use your hands to control the gas and breaks. "Apple's New Pinch-To-Zoom Monopoly is Bad News," Matthew Yglesias, Slate
In the "Good and Bad" Camp:
Bill Flora, creative director at a design firm in Seattle called Tectonic, acknowledged both positive and negative feelings about the verdict. On the one hand, it could force mobile companies to focus more on design rather than simply acting as copycats, said Mr. Flora, a former Microsoft designer who played a central role in creating the look of its Windows Phone software. "Apple Case Muddies the Future of Innovations," Nick Wingfield, New York Times.