John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Patent Trolls Love Apple

Troll2An unfortunate byproduct of being an iconic consumer electronics company sitting on a vast pile of cash: You’re an obvious target for patent-holding companies looking to make a quick buck.

Which is precisely the position Apple finds itself in these days. According to PatentFreedom, which tracks some 710 intellectual-property profiteers, Apple has been on the receiving end of 171-patent troll lawsuits in the past five years: 27 in 2009, 34 in 2010, 42 in 2011, 44 in 2012, and 24 in 2013 — which isn’t even over yet.

One hundred and seventy-one suits. That’s more than any other company in tech, including Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.

PatentFreedom_Patent_troll_suits

That’s a significant amount of nuisance litigation for Apple, a company whose legal team is busy waging far more important wars. Little wonder that CEO Tim Cook takes such a dim view of patent-infringement suits, dismissing them as “a pain in the ass” at our D10 conference.

“It’s maddening. It’s a waste. It’s a time suck,” Cook said of patent litigation. “Does it stop innovation? Well, it’s not going to stop us, but it’s overhead. I wish we could settle this stuff.”

Video of his remarks in full, below:


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik