Tech Devil: Patent Trolls

If you pay attention to the tech world on a regular basis, you know how often news stories of companies suing each other occur. If you don’t pay attention, you’re lucky. On an almost-daily basis there is a company suing another company because they infringed on patents. Whether it’s a patent on a certain design or whether it’s an idea or concept for a product, companies (or their lawyers) are relentless.

Apple and Samsung have been the two major players in patent wars over the past few months. Apple started by saying that Samsung’s mobile phones looked very similar to the iPhone’s design. They have a legitimate claim in the sense that the designs look the same so they took Samsung to court. Samsung counter-sued, saying that in fact Apple was the one copying Samsung’s patents. This cat fight didn’t stay in the United States. Lawsuits and subsequent bans have occurred in Germany, Australia and South Korea.

It’s depressing to see otherwise-inspiring tech giants acting like 5-year-olds fighting over a cookie. Tech companies should act more like adults working toward a common future rather than politicians. I lost interest in getting into politics and focused on technology hoping to find a paradise of awesomeness. I learned that it came with the same bickering that’s present in every other industry.

It doesn’t stop with tech companies either. The worst are the companies who collect patents and then sue companies who infringe on those patents. They aren’t creating a product, but simply suing their way to a profit. They are the epitome of greed and are ruining the game for the rest of us. At least the companies that most people consider greedy produce a good or service -- these pricks have the maturity of a teenage girl.

So what’s next? If we as a society want to make some serious technological progress, we must prod the tech companies to stop bickering and simply innovate. People are going to try to copy someone else’s success. So instead of dropping down to their level, step up and create something awesome. Or a more unrealistic plea of working together (gasp!) to unify products so they work better together and create a better overall technological experience.

I spend time dealing with people in college who act like they just entered high school, and I watch the news about politicians wanting to run our country who sound like children, so why should technology be the same? Technology is supposed to be the thing that brings us together and moves us forward. Science fiction movies keep us hopeful for tomorrow, that a better society is on the horizon. Well I guess we were wrong. Instead, we have pricks who found an easy way to make money while ruining it for the rest of us.

Though on a more serious note, this does mean that we need to go back and review patent laws themselves. Seeing as how nothing created these days is an “original” thought or idea, shouldn’t patent laws mirror human inspiration? I’ll never understand the childish idea behind patent and copyright ideas, but it doesn’t mean we can’t update them and make them more realistic and fitting for our time.

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