The triviality of “patented” design

Apple Inc has tem­porar­i­ly pre­vent­ed Sam­sung from sell­ing a com­pet­i­tive tablet com­put­er in Aus­tralia and Europe on the basis of a claimed “patent­ed” design. Sam­sung says that there is no inno­va­tion that deserves pro­tec­tion in the shape and form of the Apple tablet. They point out that there are many prece­dents, includ­ing in a scene from Stan­ley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odd­essy.”

Con­sid­er­ing the triv­ial sketch­es in Apple’s two-page 2004 “Design Patent,” it is dif­fi­cult to under­stand why the U.S. gov­ern­ment thought that it deserved 14 years of exclu­sive pro­tec­tion (at pub­lic cost). There is, sim­ply, no inno­va­tion in Apple’s design. This out­ra­geous use of the courts to deny con­sumer choice yet again shows the reg­u­la­to­ry sys­tem of IP pro­tec­tion is waste­ful and bad­ly bro­ken.

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