Apple-Motorola Judge Questions Need for Software Patents

Late last month, federal judge Richard Posner threw out one of the major U.S. cases in the ongoing patent battle between Apple and Motorola, and Reuters today publishes an interesting interview with Posner in which he discusses his view that patents have become too widely used and suggests that there may not be a need for software patents at all.

Noting his belief that software and other industries do not require the same level of patent protection as industries like pharmaceuticals where hundreds of millions of dollars are spent to develop a single protected product, Posner indicates individual software advances require much less economic investment and much of the benefit is gained simply by being first to market.

"It's not clear that we really need patents in most industries," he said.

Also, devices like smartphones have thousands of component features, and they all receive legal protection.

"You just have this proliferation of patents," Posner said. "It's a problem."

In Posner's ruling last month, he noted that Apple's patent on smooth operation of streaming video was in no way a monopoly on all streaming video and that barring an entire product over a single feature would be harmful to consumers. Posner also ruled against Motorola in its efforts to ban the iPhone over standards-essential patents that were to be licensed under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

iphone slide to unlock
Apple is of course involved in intellectual property disputes with a number of companies, with the cases including both software patents and design rights. Just this week, a ban on U.S. sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Nexus went into effect as Apple won preliminary injunctions, but the company also experienced setbacks in its battle with HTC in recent days. In those cases, both the U.S. International Trade Commission and a UK court ruled in HTC's favor, with the UK judge ruling that several of Apple's patents including one covering the "slide-to-unlock" feature are invalid in that country.

Top Rated Comments

highlnd Avatar
117 months ago
for those thinking

deregulate software sure...

patents are evil only big pharma can have them

no one dies if software messes up

unless your software is running;

trafficlights
bank transfers
airplane autopilots
missile defense systems
lazer satellites
drones flying over the usa
machines that go Ping!

I think you are confusing patents with safety regulations.
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iRCL Avatar
117 months ago
Agree 100%
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
The Mercurian Avatar
117 months ago
At last someone speaking some sense.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
semitry Avatar
117 months ago

If we do away with Intellectual Property Patents i think we can agree that the motivation for innovation will be greatly hindered.

Not with software patents. Can you imagine the innovation that would have been lost if quicksort or merg sort was patented? Or if Oracle was able to patent 'rangeCheck'?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sishaw Avatar
117 months ago
Is it just me or is this judge straying into Judicial Activism with this kind of pontificating?

I mean the question at hand was not "Are intellectual patents a good idea in this industry or not?", but more like "Is this particular patent being infringed upon?".

If we do away with Intellectual Property Patents i think we can agree that the motivation for innovation will be greatly hindered.

There are a lot of people that think software code would be adequately protected by some sort of copyright rather than patent.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NachoGrande Avatar
117 months ago
They are killing progression in most software markets. The worst part is most people don't even know a patent exists until after they spend millions on development only to have it blocked in the end.

I can understand broad software ideas, but to put a patent on a sliding button, multi-touch etc.. is just too far reaching and only large companies can afford the patent attorneys.


They are not used for good in the software industry they are only used to harm.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

apple watch 6s 202009

Bloomberg: Apple Watch Series 7 to Feature Thinner Screen Bezels, Faster Processor, and Updated Ultra Wideband Tech

Monday June 14, 2021 3:41 am PDT by
This year's Apple Watch Series 7 is likely to have thinner display bezels and use a new lamination technique that brings the display closer to the front cover, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. From the report: The Cupertino, California-based tech giant is planning to refresh the line this year -- with a model likely dubbed the Apple Watch Series 7 -- by adding a faster processor,...
m1 imac back

Some M1 iMac Models Shipping With Crooked Mountings

Monday June 14, 2021 12:50 pm PDT by
Some M1 iMacs appear to have a manufacturing defect that causes the display to be mounted on the stand in a way that's not perfectly aligned, leading to a crooked display. YouTuber iPhonedo over the weekend published a review of the M1 iMac, and he found that his machine appeared to be tilted on one side, a mounting disparity that was visibly noticeable and proved with a ruler. Another...
studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
16 inch macbook pro m2 render

When Can We Expect the Redesigned MacBook Pros Now?

Wednesday June 16, 2021 7:11 am PDT by
With no sign of redesigned MacBook Pro models at this year's WWDC, when can customers expect the much-anticipated new models to launch? A number of reports, including investor notes from Morgan Stanley and Wedbush analysts, claimed that new MacBook Pro models would be coming during this year's WWDC. This did not happen, much to the disappointment of MacBook Pro fans, who have been...
apple new iphone case colors

Apple Releases New Sunflower, Cloud Blue and Electric Orange iPhone 12 Cases

Monday June 14, 2021 11:12 am PDT by
Apple today released silicone iPhone cases for the iPhone 12, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, and 12 mini in a series of new colors that include sunflower, cloud blue, and electric orange. Sunflower is a bright yellow shade, cloud blue is a soft, light blue, and electric orange is a bright orange that's darker than the kumquat color and more orange than pink citrus. The new cases are priced starting...
ipad iphone duo ios 12

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 12.5.4 Security Fix for Older iPhones and iPads

Monday June 14, 2021 10:15 am PDT by
Apple today released new iOS and iPadOS 12.5.4 updates, with the new software aimed at older devices that are unable to run the iOS 14 update that's available on modern devices. The iOS and iPadOS 12.5.4 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to Settings > General > Software...
files app ipados 15

iPadOS 15: Files App Gains NTFS Support, Progress Indicator, and More

Tuesday June 15, 2021 3:41 am PDT by
Apple in iPadOS 15 has added the ability to access NTFS-formatted media from within the Files app. The additional support for the Windows-related format, first discovered by YouTuber Steven Fjordstrøm, is read-only, so like on macOS you can't modify files stored on NTFS devices, but you can at least copy any data on them for working on elsewhere on your iPad. The Files app has also gotten a...
maxresdefault

Apple CEO Tim Cook: Sideloading Apps Would 'Destroy the Security' of the iPhone

Wednesday June 16, 2021 10:49 am PDT by
Apple CEO Tim Cook this morning participated in a virtual interview at the VivaTech conference, which is described as Europe's biggest startup and tech event. Cook was interviewed by Guillaume Lacroix, CEO and founder of Brut, a media company that creates short-form video content. Much of the discussion centered on privacy, as it often does in interviews that Cook participates in. He...
maxresdefault

Demo: Check Out AirPlay 2 on a Mac in macOS Monterey

Tuesday June 15, 2021 11:57 am PDT by
With macOS Monterey, Apple has introduced expanded AirPlay 2 support, so you can AirPlay content from an iPhone, iPad, or even another Mac to your main Mac. We thought we'd do a quick demo of this handy new feature in our latest YouTube video. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. With AirPlay to Mac, you can extend or mirror an Apple device's display to a Mac, and since ...
nomad airtag wallet card 2

Nomad's Latest Accessory Makes It Easier to Put an AirTag in Your Wallet

Monday June 14, 2021 12:00 pm PDT by
Nomad, known for its range of accessories designed for Apple devices, today announced the Card for AirTag, which is designed to make it easier for an AirTag to fit inside a wallet for tracking purposes. With Card for AirTag, an AirTag fits inside the middle of a card-shaped holder that's then meant to fit inside of a wallet. According to Nomad, the design offers a smooth, uniform shape that...