Monday, September 24, 2012

Stolen Ideas Part 2

Somebody on social media responded to my comment on my first stolen ideas post. What they said was that 'two people working from the same base material are likely to have similar ideas' doesn't just apply to writing.

Let's think about that for a moment.

The flip side is that two people working for the same goal are likely to have similar ideas. In writing, this is not always a problem. Theme anthologies work because if you tell 20 authors to write a story about zombies set in the Old West, you WILL get 20 quite different stories.

However, what if the same goal is something specific? Like, for example, the most efficient UI for a mobile phone.

People will have similar ideas. Heck, people will have the same idea. Big deal?

Sadly, yes. We all know that pretty much all of the smartphone companies are filing lawsuits on each other to stop their competitors from selling products, because they argue that patent A covers innovation B. Usually, they insist that the copying is quite deliberate.

'They stole our idea' is a cry that echoes all around. Who actually suffers from the patent wars? The consumer. When a smartphone model goes off the market for no better reason than because somebody thinks it copies somebody else, the price of remaining phones goes up. And all of the companies end up looking like they're going for some kind of legal monopoly. People start wanting to boycott every single one of them.

Maybe it's time to apply some reasonable standards to patents. Time to accept that people will have similar ideas and recognize what is infringement and what is competition.