This week the judge behind the tossing out of a recent patent case between Apple and Motorola has come forth to talk about the patent ecosystem and what it means for the current and future state of technology and software. Richard Posner sits on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago and maintains that it’s not so much that companies want to defend their patents in court, but that, “high profits and volatility” are to blame for these groups “looking to wound competitors,” as Rueters put it. This is certainly music to onlooker’s ears for those who are tired of hearing about lawsuits each and every day of the gadget-filled year.
Posner is a professor at the University of Chicago, and speaking this week from his courthouse chambers near Lake Michigan, he let it be known that pharmaceutical companies will have a much better claim to intellectual property protection as far as he’s concerned, simply because of the giant amount of investment it takes to create a drug that’s market-ready and successful. Posner continued by saying that software and other industries have a lot less cost in their development of products, and that the benefit of getting to the market first with a gadget is one they’d have with or without software patents all the same.
“It’s a constant struggle for survival. As in any jungle, the animals will use all the means at their disposal, all their teeth and claws that are permitted by the ecosystem. … It’s not clear that we really need patents in most industries. You just have this proliferation of patents. It’s a problem.” – Posner
On the cancellation of the October 2010 cases between Motorola and Apple in which Motorola sued Apple only to have Apple sue Motorola. Posner ruled that any injunction barring the sale of Motorola phones would harm the consumers. He was also up front about the idea that trying to ban a device simply based on patents that cover individual features was something he would always reject.
Have a peek at some recent patent battles in our timeline below and see if you feel the same way – what do you think about software patents in general?