Sat. Nov 27th, 2021
Yes, Google "Stole" From Apple, And That's A Good Thing

Apple is presently locked in a authorized battle with Samsung over claims that Samsung’s smartphones and tablets infringe on Apple’s patents. My Forbes colleague E.D. Kain suggests that Apple may maintain the excessive floor:

Many have dismissed the latest spate of patent fits as a lot greedy at straws – Apple’s underhanded try and stymie competitors within the cell and pill markets and shield its iPad and iPhone dominance. But what if Jobs is correct, and Google actually did steal from iOS? What if Samsung, an organization which makes most of the elements that go into iPad’s and iPhones, did secretly borrow from Apple’s designs with a view to get a style of their success?

One of the massive impediments to considering clearly in regards to the patent system is the tendency to speak by way of obscure abstractions. Did Google “steal from iOS?” It relies upon what you imply by “steal.”

If we outline “steal” narrowly, the reply is nearly actually “no.” There have not been any allegations, for instance, that Google obtained a pirated copy of iOS supply code and included it into Android. This would have been a reckless and silly—to not point out unethical—transfer on Google’s half. Similarly, I do not suppose there’s been any allegations that Samsung’s {hardware} was constructed by slavishly copying the implementation particulars of Apple {hardware}.

On the opposite hand, if we outline the time period broadly, Google and Samsung clearly did “steal” Apple’s know-how. A variety of key ideas, reminiscent of pinch-to-zoom, have been first launched on the iPhone and later included into Android. The iPhone was an progressive product, and clearly Apple’s rivals are going to need to match it function for function.

The necessary query is not whether or not such “stealing” occurred, it is whether or not we need to dwell in a world the place it is unlawful. Do you need to dwell in a world the place solely Apple is allowed to make telephones with pinch-to-zoom functionality (and dozens of different options) till 2027? I certain do not.

This is not the primary time Apple has tried this explicit tactic. The lawsuit in opposition to Samsung is a replay of its “look and feel” lawsuit in opposition to Microsoft 20 years in the past. Apple was the primary firm to carry the graphical person interface to a big viewers with the Lisa in 1983 after which the Mac in 1984. Microsoft famously launched a competing GUI-based working system, Windows, in 1985. Apple sued, alleging that Windows had “stolen” the “look and feel” of the Mac OS, and had thereby infringed Apple’s copyrights.

At the time, the idea of copyright safety for software program was nonetheless fairly new, so it wasn’t apparent how broad it was. The courts finally determined that it did not prolong to “look and feel,” permitting Microsoft to proceed promoting Windows and dominate the PC enterprise.

You can think about an alternate universe through which Apple gained its lawsuit, both as a result of judges interpreted copyright legislation in another way, or as a result of software program patents had been extra extensively out there (they did not change into frequent till the late Nineties). Would anybody severely contend that we might be higher off immediately if Apple (or Xerox, which pioneered a few of the key ideas) had held a monopoly on primary UI ideas like menus, buttons, and scroll bars for the entire Eighties and Nineties?

It’s clearly a very good factor that Apple misplaced its look-and-feel lawsuit, permitting the emergence of competing graphical person interfaces like Windows, NeXT, and the X window system that powers fashionable Linux distributions. Likewise, it might be a catastrophe for innovation if Apple gained its lawsuits in opposition to Android and attained a 20-year monopoly on multi-touch good telephones.

The query is not whether or not Google copied some options of Android from iOS (copying, by the way, that goes each methods). It’s whether or not we would like a patent system that provides the primary firm to detect a primary person interface idea just like the graphical person interface or multi-touch pill computing to have a 20-year monopoly on these ideas.

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