Sunday, April 1, 2012

Apple's Touch Screen Patent - Let Innovation Reign

Over the last decade, I have become a big fan of Apple products. They simply work; they don't make me think! In fact, we have five iPhones (will be six if son #2 gets straight A's this quarter), four Macbook Pros, a Macbook, and a number of iPods.

What's this have to do with patents? I don't like picking on Google but the Android software seems to copy some of Apple's software. In economics, we might say Google appears to be "free riding" on Apple's effort. You innovate since that is hard and expensive, you put it out in the public and I will wait to see if the market likes it, and if so, copy your innovation. In The Economic Structure of Intellectual Property Law, Judge Richard Posner and Professor William Landes state the consequence of giving expansive intellectual property protection is balanced by the potentially debilitating effect of free riding on the production of goods that involve a high ratio of fixed to marginal costs such as the iPhone. Thus, each time I hear Apple is successful in enforcing its patents on features that differentiate it, I think good for Apple (and me). Thus, I was glad to hear on Saturday that Judge Posner was siding with Apple for the most part on the touch screen patent lawsuit against Motorola Mobility.

Florian Mueller has a detailed account of Apple's victory here.

Apple Insider has a nice summary plus interesting comments here.

Copyright © 2012 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.