updated 11:22 pm EDT, Tue May 29, 2012
Competitors accused of suing over standards patents
Speaking to attendees at All Things D's D10 conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook answered several questions regarding the ongoing patent wars that the company has become involved in. When asked if the legal battles are a "problem for innovation," the executive bluntly stated "Well it is a pain in the ass." He likened the situation to Apple painting a piece of art and then someone else coming along and signing their own name to it.
"From our point of view, it is important for Apple not be the developer for the world," Cook added. "We just want other people to invent their own stuff."
Kara Swisher pointed out that Apple is the defendant in a number of lawsuits, not just a plaintiff. Cook suggests there is an important difference, as "the vast majority" of lawsuits filed by competitors are simply attempts to exploit "standards-essential patents."
"This is an area where the patent system is broken today," Cook said. "No one should be able to get an injunction off a standards-essential patent."
The CEO argues that Apple has never sued a competitor over a standards-essential patent, as it feels that such strategies are "fundamentally wrong."
"The problem in this industry is that if you add up what everyone says their standards-essential patents are worth, no one would be in the phone business," Cook added. "It's maddening. It's a waste. It's a time suck."
The comments echo similar feelings voiced by the late Steve Jobs, who viewed Android as a "stolen" mobile operating system and said the company was willing to "go thermonuclear" to defend its intellectual property rights. Cook suggests that ongoing litigation is "not going to stop us," but it does add to company overhead.