In Focus

PATENTS HALTING INNOVATION

GEORGE SHI

STAFF WRITER

   Does one rotten apple spoil the whole barrel? Apparently, it can.
Recently Apple, the technology
company, formed a conglomerate company under the name
Rockstar. Through patenting parts
of a device and using that broad
definition of ownership to justify legal actions, Rockstar has sued
companies, such as Google and
Cisco, for “infringements.” One
term for these kinds of actions
is “patent trolling” and although many devices, such as Android,
do seem similar to the iPhone,
does this type of patenting justify Rockstar’s legal actions?

   Patent trolling occurs when a person or company sues a company
that has supposedly used its product in an attempt to collect money.
Even though they do not manufacture products or supply
services based upon the patents, they require what can be considered
economic rent, which many people consider to be extortion. When
Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Microsoft, and Sony joined to buy
patents from the bankrupt communications company Nortel, they
purchased a whopping 6,000 patents and began using them to sue
rival companies. Rockstar is not
the first company to have done something like this and similar cases have been going on for over 14 years over such issues.

   Still, many disapprove of their
actions; President Barack Obama
has said that patent trolls are “just trying to essentially leverage
and hijack somebody else’s idea.” Like Obama, many believe that
patent trolls are detrimental to
innovation because they just leech off others instead of creating
anything new.

   Big companies have fought back recently. Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Verizon have joined
together to combat these patent trolls. The group believes that
people should not be allowed to just buy patents for products they didn’t invent or manufacture and then
file lawsuits.

   I side with this group; other companies that leech onto innovation should be eliminated from the
market because if a company
truly has a great product, then they do not need to resort to dirty tactics
in order to squeeze out the competition. In Apple’s case, the company has been making efforts to sue
rival companies, such as Google,
in order to dominate the smartphone market. Consequently, instead of
focusing on creating a better
product, Apple wastes both time
and money by taking legal action against the past rather than moving into the future.

   Overall, the patent trolling must change in order to maximize
the greatest amount of innovation. As such, it is exciting to see that
both the government and companies are taking actions against it.
Thus, it is important for the
public to remain informed on
such issues since these cases
stagnant innovation, which is
detrimental to society.

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