In an unattributed article posted to the Economist website today, the article goes into patent reform and why the writer thinks it would be “good”, wrapping up with this in the second to last paragraph:

The existing criteria for a patent should be applied with greater vigour. Specialised courts for patent disputes should be established, with technically minded judges in charge: the inflated patent-damage awards of recent years are largely the result of jury trials. And if patents are infringed, judges should favour monetary penalties over injunctions that ban the sale of offending products and thereby reduce consumer choice.

To which I say: close, but not quite.

There is no doubt that the U.S. and International Patent laws need to be reformed — specifically to deal with software patents. However the Apple v. Samsung spat is much simpler than patents, it is about plagiarism. Apple contends that Samsung blatantly and willfully copied them — the jury agreed.

To rectify such an outcome you cannot simply award monetary damages unless they are ongoing (for as long as the copying continues) — the injunction is meant to pull the copied product off the market.

This does reduce choice, there is no doubt about that, but it also stays true to the original goal of the patent system: to encourage innovation, by allowing protection of that innovation for an exclusive period of time — protection from copying.

It’s actually quite simple, if you are a blogger complaining about the Apple v. Samsung verdict, then I am sure you are fine with me copying your site design to a t and simply re-writing everything you post. Right? Oh, you aren’t OK with that? Huh, funny.


Posted by Ben Brooks