On August 24, a jury in San Jose, California awarded $1,049,343,540 to Apple after Samsung was found to be in violation of their software and design patents. This case is monumental not because of the actual damages to be paid by Samsung, but because of the precedent it sets. There is no question that Samsung’s designs were inspired by (perhaps even copied from) the iPhone and iPad. In a statement following the ruling, Apple hailed the ruling “for sending a loud and clear message that stealing isn’t right,” while Samsung stated that the verdict “will lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices. It is unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners.”
While both statements contain convincing rhetoric, there is no direct contradiction, suggesting the possibility that they actually are both true. I am a firm believer in the idea that patents stifle innovation. I also believe that stealing is not right. However, what Samsung did is not “theft.” There is no doubt that they blatantly copied some of Apple’s design elements, so based on our current legal system, Apple certainly had every right to pursue damages.
But to me, and many other consumers, the iPad is still a superior product to Samsung’s tablet. If Samsung was able to create a better product than Apple, perhaps including some of Apple’s design elements, shouldn’t they have every right to profit from it? This is true capitalism. Whoever takes the first step into a new design should not have a monopoly on further developments. As a commenter on a New York Times article on the matter wrote, why are all wheels round? Why do nearly all cars have four of them?
Our patent system should be abolished.