By Stephen Schenck | April 18, 2011 6:56 PM
We may take it for granted that smartphones share certain aspects of their appearance and functionality, but the companies behind these products don’t always see these similarities as the organic result of smartphone evolution. Having icons on a home screen that you tap to launch apps, for instance, may seem like something inherent to smartphones as a whole when it’s you who’s considering it, but to these companies, it can represent half a dozen patents held by disparate entities, all enforceable and actionable upon if illicitly copied. It’s this sort of bashing horns over IP rights that’s driven Apple to file its latest lawsuit, this time alleging that Samsung has been copying the iPhone with all of its Android devices.
The suit names phones like the Epic 4G, Nexus S, and Galaxy S 4G, but it’s clear that Apple’s assault is on Android as a whole. Apple claims that “Samsung chose to copy Apple’s technology, user interface and innovative style,” but it seems like such complaints would be better directed at Google. This isn’t the first time Apple has gone after a device manufacturer rather than Google itself, when the issues are with Android software rather than smartphone hardware.
We’re sick of suits like these, which do nothing to help smartphone innovation and tie up resources which companies could otherwise be using to work on new technologies. Who’s to blame? You could argue that software patents in general have led to this quagmire of a situation, where far too many are awarded for functionality that either evokes prior art or is a painfully obvious extension of existing technologies, at least to anyone with a passion for smartphones (ie, NOT patent examiners). Sadly, politicians don’t seem eager to fix this situation any, so you can look forward to plenty more suits like this in the years to come.