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The problem isn't having patents, it's the ridiculousness of what is being patented these days. I'm going to pick on Apple just because it's stuff on the top of my head, and I'm certainly not trying to absolve Samsung by any means, but I'm certain this abounds everywhere. So Apple has patented the "swipe" motion. That's right, moving your finger across the screen, either up/down, down/up, left/right, right/left is patented motion by Apple. Nevermind the fact that Microsoft came up with it first with the original Surface, but how silly is it and how stifling to innovation is it that the motion of one's finger across a screen is patented? The same goes for the grid of icons, which Apple actually used in the lawsuit against Samsung. There have been grids of icons used almost a decade before Apple ever decided to do it, but since they patented it, they can tell everyone else not to do something so logical as to put icons in a grid shape. That's not intellectual property, that's silliness. At what point will it stop? With Apple winning the lawsuit, it begs the question can you patent a green colored t-shirt and then sue everyone else who tries to make a green t-shirt? Where is the line? At the rate that we're going, the company(s) that is(are) going to win aren't going to make the best products, they're just going to be the ones that can patent the most ridiculous stuff the fastest. Just think if Apple was already (really, not that BS Apple TV thing) in the TV market... Apple - "Sorry, you can't build a rectangular shaped screen with a black border because that's patent infringement" Now go look at every TV on the market and realize that none of them would be allowed to exist because Apple would patent the idea of a rectangular screen (gee 16:9, 4:3, 16:10 aspect ratios all happen to be rectangular) as their own idea. Again, where does it end? That's what really needs to be decided. What for a company is really intellectual property and what is not?
Google patented its home page. Not copyrighted, Patented. Patents are now used as investments. Major firms with hundreds of lawyers surf the patent records to find over-reaching patents and then buy them from the inventor, usually for a song. They then apply those patents broadly and threaten companies with lawsuits, which usually ends in a settlement because its cheaper than defending the lawsuit even if there is no patent violation. If the Patent Office patented ideas that were truly unique and new, there wouldn't be this problem. Instead, they allow Google to patent a page layout...
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