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Apple and Google spent more on patents than on R&D for the first time in 2011

Posted: , posted by Victor H.

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Apple and Google spent more on patents than on R&D for the first time in 2011
The patent system has gone out of hand. Even Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook admitted: “There’s some of this that is maddening. It’s a waste; it’s a time suck.”

And when what’s seen as the biggest patent bully admits that the system is wrong, this means it’s fundamentally flawed. Here are the facts:

- $20 billion were spent on patent litigation and purchase over the last two years, a sum that would have allowed us to sent 8 missions to Mars,
- last year, Apple and Google’s expenditures for patent lawsuits for the first time in history exceeded their R&D spending,
- not least Google spent $12.5 billion on Motorola mostly because of its patents.

The problem stems from the fact that the system was designed with the mechanical world in mind, and in the world of software, it turns out you can patents all sorts of generic concepts, blocking the way to business to smaller companies.

“There’s a real chaos. The standards for granting patents are too loose,” federal appellate judge Richard A. Posner, one of the people to form patent law, said.

We’ve seen it in the case of Apple, where Steve Jobs said the company would patent the whole iPhone, after earlier it struck the brick patent wall with its iPod, sued for $100 million by Creative Technologies. And paraphrasing Jobs, boy, have they patented it, with patents starting from elements like rounded square icons.

It’s clear that right now with the digital industry taking over, this is starting to grow bigger, and more significant. The New York Times has come up with an in-depth story around Apple and Siri, and also Vlingo and its unfortunate attempt to fight against patents with its better technology.

“We had the better product, but it didn’t matter, because this system is so completely broken,” Vlingo head narrates the story of the voice recognition app.

Check it out at the source below for the details, but in the meantime, do let us know - do you think we need patents, and should they change? How? It’s all you in the comments below.

source: NY Times

Apple and Google spent more on patents than on R&D for the first time in 2011

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