Steve Wozniak: Not A Fan Of Patent-Mongering Companies

    April 10, 2012
    Drew Bowling
    Comments are off for this post.

It’s no secret that patent trolls are a danger to innovation, imagination, and a whole lot of other inspiring concepts that make the world a better place to live in. Pick any major technology company and you will without fail find them involved in some sort of patent litigation.

Steve Wozniak, the man who co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs, is familiar with patents in the technology world. When he designed the Apple II computer, he begrudgingly had to fork over some money to RCA because the company owned an unused patent that Wozniak unintentionally impeded upon. Speaking to the Australian Financial Times, Wozniak said, “We actually wound up paying them two bucks for every computer we shipped just for that simple idea.”

Given his experience with patent obstacles, it may not be surprising that Wozniak isn’t a fan of patent-mongering companies. Since most of the companies that are involved in the ongoing patent disputes, Wozniak shared his wonderment over the state of technological development.

Wozniak says that, while a growing number of technology specialists think the patent system should be scrapped, he still believes it is essential to encourage young inventors who aspire to do something new.

He can appreciate the argument that Apple has now come to represent to today’s entrepreneurs what RCA was to him, but Wozniak believes Apple’s record for continued innovation means it is less guilty than any of the other large tech firms.

“Apple is the good guy on the block of all of them,” he says. “It is creating so much and is so successful and it is not just following the formulas of other companies – [Apple is] totally establishing new markets that didn’t exist.”

Well, that wasn’t exactly a surprising opinion, but Wozniak does make an interesting point in saying that Apple is the only company currently trying to shape new markets instead of simply trying to carve out a take from existing markets. As far as developing new technology goes, Apple has certainly been the industry flagship. Protecting that status is part of what drove Steve Jobs to famously declare that he would spend every cent in Apple’s coffers to crush Android, Google’s rival platform, which he claimed was a “stolen product.”

Think these companies should spend less time sniping each other and perhaps more time just focusing on inventing new technology? Agree or disagree, we want to hear what you think.

  • http://www.PIAUSA.org Ronald J Riley

    “Apple is the good guy on the block of all of them,”

    What a crock. When Apple and the others talk about innovation what they mean is copying others inventions and incorporating those inventions in their products.

    HP, Kodak, Motorola all were actual “innovators” who produced significant inventions and then continuously improved on them. Today all three have lost that edge. Microsoft, Apple, Micron, Google, eBay, Facebook are all examples of marketing hucksters. Few really significant inventions but lots of patent filings on really minor incremental stuff.

    The patent system used to be one vehicle to achieve the American Dream. It was common for big business to steal inventions from independent and small business inventors. The inventor community developed some pretty effective countermeasures, at least for cases where infringement value exceeded a hundred million dollars. Below that amount big business new that they could mostly steal with impunity and they fully availed themselves of those opportunities.

    They sold so called patent reform as a fix for the patent system, and boy did it fix all those small companies who produced most new inventions. Known as the America Invents Act (AIA) it gave companies a host of new tools which allows them to starve inventors with lengthy delays and to bankrupt them.

    The end result is that large transnational corporations can take small entities inventions to the same places they have been taking jobs. So guess where new jobs will be created from those inventions.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
    President – Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Michigan * Washington, DC
    Direct 810-597-0194 * 202-318-1595 – 9 am to 8 pm EST.

  • Vic Kley

    Gee when I brought my touch screen invention to Apple’s storefront in 1977 where Steve Jobs and his partner thought it over and rejected it and the GUI I describe to them we were using to do CAD on the actual first personal graphics computer (made by Tektronics) I was sent away by Jobs. They and their customers would use Taiwanese joysticks to play games and character graphics to play those games with- so said Jobs.

    Now we hear that Wozniak claims Apple pioneers markets! Gee would those be the ones pioneered by DynaBook in 1968, Go in 1990 (both Go and DynaBook were tablet computers) or maybe the PDA/Phone or otherwise known as the SmartPhone market pioneered by Palm etc., etc.

    There are many inventions in the Apple product line and very few of them from Apple. There are almost no inventions ever created by Apple that have been copied by others (important to note the first to create requirement here).

    That all said Apple is a tremendous company with a proven innovation record and a talented marketing staff. Get it straight though inventions and innovations are very much not the same thing.

    Innovations feed on inventions and frequently consume the inventors in the process.

    Innovators like the Steve’s frequently try to pretend they are also inventors as if a design patent is a utility patent.

    If you don’t know the difference between a design and a utility here is a hint a pink wheel is a design, the wheel itself is a utility. The inventor of the wheel has forever changed mankind, the designer of the pink wheel is a matter for the eye of the beholder. Steve Jobs was a designer, Steve Wozniak has I think one or two utility patents not used in any present Apple products. I can’t name a critical utility patent from Apple that was not purchased outside Apple.

    For us inventors facing enormous war rooms at companies like Apple we have no hope of survival and fair treatment without the power to sue the bastards. Does anyone out there think they actually seek us out and ask for licenses? Even when our patents appear referenced in their own patent applications and searches? Hell no!

    All the lobbying power of Apple, Microsoft and Google have recently gone into making it extremely difficult for the lone inventor, and small start-up to even obtain a patent let alone enforce it against them.

    Trolls are imaginary monsters Apple, Microsoft and Google are proven Monsters and now you see them building vast portfolios of patents to make war, not a better world. Don’t listen to Wozniak’s corporate BS he used to care about others in the tech world now not so much. Sad.

  • Vic Kley

    By the way pick any major technology company and show me that they rather then a small group of independent spirits like PARC, or Bell Labs or small start-ups. People in their dorm rooms looking into the future or first sons trying to save the family business (Alfred Nobel) are the prime source of new ideas, inspiring concepts, imagination!

    These true disruptors importantly lack a bean counter, pencil neck board breathing down their necks to STOP them in their tracks. A board which every major company has and struggles to survive under.

    Major companies have a few markets and lot of fear. They are frozen by fear. They are damn right to be afraid because we inventors are out here and we are mad as hell and we have the imagination they sold to the highest bidder long ago.

    As Einstein (an inventor by the way ahead of his time-um..) said “Imagination is more important then knowledge.”

  • http://www.mountainoakvapors.com Steve

    Mountain Oak Vapors Premium Tennessee E-Liquid

    More time spending new technology, less time proclaiming they invented something they really just innovated.

    Also, these little touch screen phones are becoming less useful every day. I’m not overly impressed with iOS, and I’ve never been. Android phones get rushed to market consistently (like, motorola bionic>razr) and then they fall way short and are riddled with bugs. You pay 600 dollars for a piece of crap when version piece of crap + 1 will come out next week.

    Getting tired of it.

  • Steve Jobless

    May Steve Jobs rot in hell for killing off Flash. I can’t access video or multimedia content when trying to do school work on my full-size tablet. WTF! What a dick! I hope Satan is sticking his dick far up Steve Job’s asshole.