Novel, Nonobvious, and Useful

September 14, 2012 — Leave a comment

Can you patent round corners?

Google was unaware that you could, according to David Lawee, vice president for corporate development at Google. In an interview with Bloomberg David made it clear that Google was not aggressive enough with their patent strategy.

Apple’s victory over Samsung and Google sets a disturbing precedent. I fail to see how their patent, Design patent ‘305. Rounded square icons on the home screen interface, is non obvious or new. Look at the Blackberry below, don’t those home icons look rounded?

Consider the apparel industry, which has had a historically loose approach to intelectual property. There is currently a pending lawsuit over the design of yoga pants, which just seems ridiculous.

I believe that this is the approach which should be taken in application of patent law. It’s important to note that patents serve to encourage innovation, and are a necessary part of our economy. But when patents are given out blindly, and lawsuits are considered part of doing business, doesn’t this hurt innovation more than someone copying your rounded corners?

Open does not conflict with making money, according to Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson, by many accounts the top VC in NYC.

To me, Samsung’s official statement says it all:

Today’s verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer. It will lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices. It is unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners, or technology that is being improved every day by Samsung and other companies.