European Apple harvest

Posted on January 13, 2012

If the results of a recent court case in a German court are anything to go by, the Apple harvest in our European shops and perhaps beyond could fail over the coming year or more. While it may be more usual for Apple to use its patent portfolio to bully others, they have become the victim of their own tactics.

English: Apple iPad Event

Thanks to the power of an old patent on technologies related to the more or less outdated, but completely ubiquitous, 2G standard for mobile telephony Apple has suffered defeat in a contest with Motorola which has seen a judgement against Apple. Should the judgement be upheld, since naturally Apple will contest it in appeals as far as any appeal can possibly be taken, it could see the banning of sales throughout Europe of the iPhone, the iPad and even of the operating system iOS itself – all of which depend on the old 2G technology.

As will no doubt be publicised very widely by Apple as part of it fightback against the judgement, by the time you read this the takeover process under way at the time of witing may be complete and Motorola may be  subsidiary of Google. Of course, the suggestion that the case might have been driven through with Google in mind would never pass our lips – but the fact that Apple has made several similar attacks on Google and on Android-based phones and tablets in the past months can hardly be ignored.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Android, of course, is the operating system devised by Google and used by them in their own smartphones and devices as well as swarming over the marketplace in the hands of other smartphone suppliers such as HTC, Samsung and of course of Motorola itself. What we cannot doubt is that the case, whatever the reasons behind its being brought, is yet another shot in the ongoing war between iOS and Android for market share of the lucrative smartphone market, which now includes the market for tablet computers created by the release of the Apple iPad itself.

We now have the silly situation where German courts have first banned the Android-based Samsung Galaxy Tab from sale for infringing Apple design patents and now Apple iPad, iPhone and iOS sales being banned for infringing a Motorola patent which may or may not be connected with their use of Android or their takeover by Google.

As long-time believers that all software patents are a form of theft and stifle innovation, we could sit back smugly and tell everyone we told them long ago how bad they were, but issues such as this do no good for the technology market on all sides and must be resolved for the good of everyone concerned – preferably resolved without resorting to yet more court battles.