‘What if Blowing One’s Nose into Soft Disposable Paper Were Owned by Kleenex?’
Douglas Rushkoff: Can Apple really patent the gestures people use on iPhone screens?
September 3, 2012 - 10:22 am
Imagine we were just developing spoken language for the first time. And someone came up with a new word to describe an action, thought, or feeling – like “magnify” or “dreadful.” But in this strange world, the person who came up with the word demanded anyone else who used it to pay him a dollar every time the word was uttered. That would make it pretty difficult for us to negotiate our way to a society that communicated through speech.
That’s the way the patent wars on smartphone and tablet advances are beginning to feel to me.
As a human being, I do not particularly care about Apple’s recent victory in the US version of its patent lawsuit against Samsung for copying its iPhone and iPad’s form and features. Now that Apple is demanding that Samsung pull eight of its products off the shelf, my only personal interest is whether the Samsung products, once banned, will become collectors’ items. Will I one day want to show my grandchild the phone that dared to mimic the iPhone?
But while the details of legalities and impact to share prices and even consumer choice don’t keep me or any of my friends up at night, there is nonetheless something creepy about Apple’s suit. It’s not so much that Apple – the biggest company in the world – has turned into a competitive monster; it’s the territory that Apple’s fighting over. It feels as if the technology innovation wars are no longer over one piece of technology or another, but over us humans.
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