This whole year has been the year of litigation - with the still ongoing Lodsys debacle (inn-app purchasing), the insane suits and countersuits by all the leading technology companies - Apple, Google, Samsung, HTC etc., and the most recent episode of PacketVideo vs Spotify - in the former making a claim for a patent infringement on a ’Device for the Distribution of Music in Digital Form’ or in short form, attacking anyone who streams or distributes music in a digital format (in particular cloud-based distribution) - which is just about everyone. How so many generic patents are being granted is not entirely a complete mystery, as there is whole industry of lawyers and judges and court officials which benefits enormously from these vagaries - and who loses out? That will be you and me - the members of the humble public, who have been ripped off for years by the financial services industries, and will now be targeted more by the legal industries - directly and indirectly as in these cases.
Have you wondered why 90% of Hollywood’s recent output is in the form of sequels? Significantly - because they don’t wish to have to fight some sort of licencing or copyright claim - as would undoubtedly be the case for brand new popular content. It’s just more bankable and less troublesome to re-hash the same already-copyrighted material over and over again.
Every other slightly original song that gets to the top of the charts ends up having a number of copyright claims against it - part of the melody or lyrics or sounds or whatever were supposedly ’borrowed’ from another track (released 10 years ago with no success) - when the fact is that probably most popular melodies could be traced back to some older folk song of some description - which existed for several centuries already somewhere around the world. 2011 has been the year of the musical re-hash - with chart toppers sampling all manner of existing content - even nursery rhymes and the banana boat song - to by-pass potential litiginous actions.
It is Government, fuzzy laws and opportunistic lawyers that are killing it for everyone. The notion that a generic idea or relatively abstract concept can be patented - without any kind of pertinent scientific application, schema or invention - is just plainly wrong. Individuals should not be able to patent and claim royalties on a generic idea which has no basis in execution or proper concept of ownership. By the same token, a loosely defined patent should not be made to blanket apply to any slightly related category - in a similar way that a ’water-based transport’ could blanket apply across all boats, hovercrafts and hydrofoils - the whole thing is totally ridiculous. Already some American biotech companies have been allowed to patent actual human genes - what next - a patent on breathing and a demand for royalties from every man, woman and child - or a cease and desist order!
America has always been a country of peculiar contrary freedoms - in this case the realtively freely available, but poorly defined and poorly regulated patent applications, which will eventually hamstring those corporations that birthed this mess. America will no longer be a viable place to incorporate a business in, and corporations will have to move their tax dollars and head offices to more neutral International ports of business.
A number of obvious things will happen as a natural consequence of these kinds of actions - prices will go up, there will be less competition, and prices will go up some more. Also, with loss of competition we get loss of innovation - thereby paying a lot more for poorer service and poorer devices. We will of course continue to have our consumer freedoms and freedom of choice here in Europe, whilst in America - innovative service providers like Spotify may well be litigated out of the country. PacketVideo’s patent dates back to 1997 - yet they’ve never created any kind of proper Spotify competitor as such, whereas Spotify has actually genuinely introduced an innovative, distinct and highly usable service. This is really just another example of corporate asset raiding or another typically unfair tax (in fact really just extortion), a while back when this happened, the populations concerned ended up with the Magna Carta and a Bill of Rights - it’s about time someone stood up for the public once more and championed freedom of choice, rather than freedom to persecute and extort.