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Apple CEO Tim Cook: Patent Wars Are a Pain in the Ass

By - Source: AllThingsD | B 36 comments

Tim Cook says patent wars are a waste of money and a pain in the ass.

Tim Cook has been CEO of Apple since late August of 2011 but last night marked a milestone for the CEO: It was his first time being interviewed by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at the AllThingsDigital conference, a conference that Jobs was no stranger to.

Mossberg and Swisher talked to Cook about a lot of things over the 90 minutes he spent on stage with them (see live blog here) but one of the more interesting questions was about Apple's patent wars. Cupertino has been caught up in multiple patent suits in the years since the iPhone and iPad first launched. We know that Steve Jobs wanted to go thermonuclear war on Android, but how does Tim feel about all these law suits?

"Well, it is a pain in the ass," Cook responded when Kara asked him if patent suits had an impact on innovation. He goes on to say that Apple doesn't want to be the developer for the world. Cook said Apple wants other companies to develop their own products, not just take credit for Apple's work. When Walt Mossberg pointed out that Apple isn't just suing people but also getting sued, Tim Cook said that was different.

"The vast majority of those are on standards-essential patents. This is an area where the patent system is broken today," he explained, adding that no one should be able to get a patent based on a standards-essential patent. "It's kind of gotten crazy," he's quoted as saying. "It's not going to stop us from innovating, but it's overhead. It’s overhead that I wish didn't exist."

Tim Cook certainly isn't the first to criticize the patent system, which many people believe is fundamentally flawed and attracts so-called patent trolls. Last fall Dyson founder Sir James Dyson said the system was quite a good one when it was designed but described it as out-dated.

"It needs to change. Practices like patent trolling, where you go around buying up other people's patents and use them either aggressively or defensively, I think that's very bad practice," he said last year. Dyson went on to say that if they don't protect people who are investing time, money, thought and creativity into inventing new products or technologies, people won't want to anymore.

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  • 22 Hide
    fulle , June 1, 2012 5:14 PM
    dextermatonly one thing to say "THE ONE WHO SMELT IT DEALT IT"


    Tim Cook isn't Steve Jobs. His actions up to this point have painted a picture of a good leader, and reasonable person. Until he starts acting like an ass, I'm going to continue to give him the benefit of the doubt.
  • 21 Hide
    house70 , June 1, 2012 5:10 PM
    "The vast majority of those are on standards-essential patents. This is an area where the patent system is broken today," he explained, adding that no one should be able to get a patent based on a standards-essential patent."
    Kinda like the square with round edges, eh, Timmy boy?

    More PR bull$hit. He thrives in that environment, that's what a patent troll like them does.
  • 16 Hide
    willard , June 1, 2012 6:07 PM
    drwho1"Well, it is a pain in the ass," Cook responded when Kara asked him if patent suits had an impact on innovation. He goes on to say that Apple doesn't want to be the developer for the world. Cook said Apple wants other companies to develop their own products, not just take credit for Apple's work. When Walt Mossberg pointed out that Apple isn't just suing people but also getting sued, Tim Cook said that was different."Funny isn't this exactly what Apple does?

    What, you didn't know that Apple invented black rectangles with touch screens? I mean, it's not like Palm Pilot predates the iPhone and iPod touch by a decade or anything...
Other Comments
  • -5 Hide
    dextermat , June 1, 2012 5:04 PM
    only one thing to say "THE ONE WHO SMELT IT DEALT IT"
  • 21 Hide
    house70 , June 1, 2012 5:10 PM
    "The vast majority of those are on standards-essential patents. This is an area where the patent system is broken today," he explained, adding that no one should be able to get a patent based on a standards-essential patent."
    Kinda like the square with round edges, eh, Timmy boy?

    More PR bull$hit. He thrives in that environment, that's what a patent troll like them does.
  • 3 Hide
    freggo , June 1, 2012 5:12 PM
    dextermatonly one thing to say "THE ONE WHO SMELT IT DEALT IT"


    Absolutely right!
    Pot and Kettle... if it is black ;-)
  • 22 Hide
    fulle , June 1, 2012 5:14 PM
    dextermatonly one thing to say "THE ONE WHO SMELT IT DEALT IT"


    Tim Cook isn't Steve Jobs. His actions up to this point have painted a picture of a good leader, and reasonable person. Until he starts acting like an ass, I'm going to continue to give him the benefit of the doubt.
  • 4 Hide
    apone , June 1, 2012 5:17 PM
    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Apple is a huge patent troll considering its ongoing litigation (pick your favorite competing iPhone & iPad manufacturer) and explain to me Mr. Cook why you would care? Apple has $97 billion cash and most likely has a legion of attorneys to represent it in any legal issues so money and litigation labor shouldn't be a problem.
  • 7 Hide
    gm0n3y , June 1, 2012 5:21 PM
    Wow, talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

    Quote:
    Cook said Apple wants other companies to develop their own products, not just take credit for Apple's work.


    Is he so blind to actually believe this? Most of Apple's "innovations" are just stolen from other companies. With the exception of a small number of ideas, the vast majority of Apple's success is based on refining the ideas of others (and marketing them of course). Does he actually believe the Apple hype or is he just feeding the fanboys?
  • 7 Hide
    RogueKitsune , June 1, 2012 5:23 PM
    So when apple sues someone its to protect their hard work, but when someone sues apple they are doing it just to be a dick? Sounds sort of like a double standard to me, but i could be wrong, after all i am not apple
  • 14 Hide
    drwho1 , June 1, 2012 5:34 PM
    "Well, it is a pain in the ass," Cook responded when Kara asked him if patent suits had an impact on innovation. He goes on to say that Apple doesn't want to be the developer for the world. Cook said Apple wants other companies to develop their own products, not just take credit for Apple's work. When Walt Mossberg pointed out that Apple isn't just suing people but also getting sued, Tim Cook said that was different."


    Funny isn't this exactly what Apple does?
  • 5 Hide
    jupiter optimus maximus , June 1, 2012 6:01 PM
    Kara Swisher? Isn't this the same lady who frequently interrupted Steve Jobs and Bill Gates with toilet jokes? It was once in a lifetime event to see two legends together thoughtfully expressing in public and she blew it.
  • 16 Hide
    willard , June 1, 2012 6:07 PM
    drwho1"Well, it is a pain in the ass," Cook responded when Kara asked him if patent suits had an impact on innovation. He goes on to say that Apple doesn't want to be the developer for the world. Cook said Apple wants other companies to develop their own products, not just take credit for Apple's work. When Walt Mossberg pointed out that Apple isn't just suing people but also getting sued, Tim Cook said that was different."Funny isn't this exactly what Apple does?

    What, you didn't know that Apple invented black rectangles with touch screens? I mean, it's not like Palm Pilot predates the iPhone and iPod touch by a decade or anything...
  • -6 Hide
    jungleboogiemonster , June 1, 2012 6:11 PM
    Tim Cook is a much better person than Steve Jobs. He's rational and doesn't take action based upon emotion, and I respect Apple much more for that. So much so that I could even see myself buying Apple products, which is a huge change from the past.
  • -1 Hide
    thorkle , June 1, 2012 6:20 PM
    The CEO doesn't represent a companies decisions entirely, I would say Tim Cook has actually done a lot to mitigate the patent trolling since he has taken up the reigns. He hasn't gone actively trolling like Stevie boy did.
  • 2 Hide
    diagothecat , June 1, 2012 6:51 PM
    What, you didn't know that Apple invented black rectangles with touch screens? I mean, it's not like Palm Pilot predates the iPhone and iPod touch by a decade or anything...

    and of course it's not like the Newton didn't predate the Palm. With a large number of employees leaving Newton and starting up Palm
  • -3 Hide
    diagothecat , June 1, 2012 6:53 PM
    What, you didn't know that Apple invented black rectangles with touch screens? I mean, it's not like Palm Pilot predates the iPhone and iPod touch by a decade or anything...

    and of course it's not like the Newton didn't predate the Palm. With a large number of employees leaving Newton and starting up Palm
  • 11 Hide
    wiyosaya , June 1, 2012 6:54 PM
    Translating Tim Cook: "In other words, what I really mean is, Apple should be allowed to sue everyone, and no one should be allowed to sue Apple. Because, even though my other face just said that Apple does not want to be the developer of the world, Apple already is the developer of the world and intends to stay that way by whatever means necessary."
  • -2 Hide
    wiyosaya , June 1, 2012 6:58 PM
    :lol:  Dyson. Bose of the vacuum world. :sarcastic: 
  • 4 Hide
    wiyosaya , June 1, 2012 7:05 PM
    jungleboogiemonsterTim Cook is a much better person than Steve Jobs. He's rational and doesn't take action based upon emotion, and I respect Apple much more for that. So much so that I could even see myself buying Apple products, which is a huge change from the past.

    Personally, I think you have an interesting definition of "better person." Not taking $75M in dividends (right now anyway), giving $100M out of $100B to charity. Hmm, I guess those acts count as being a better person even though their monetary impact on the whole of crApple is, at best, fractional. IMHO, so far, they are moves that speak better to the public, but have little substance other than to speak better to the public. Honestly, those moves might have been suggested to him by crApple's PR department.

    For me, it is going to take much more than that.
  • 4 Hide
    thorkle , June 1, 2012 7:16 PM
    wiyosayaDyson. Bose of the vacuum world.

    Too bad Bose is the "Apple" of the speaker world. People hear the name Bose and assume they are better. I would much rather get a set of Polk Audio monitor 70's on Newegg when they're on sale (which is fairly often) and get amazing sound for a fraction of the price that Bose has anything for. Also Bose has very artificial sound that is totally eq'd improperly from a manufacturer setting which makes them hard to get flat response.

    Although Dyson does make some fantastic vacuums lol.
  • -2 Hide
    CaedenV , June 1, 2012 7:20 PM
    If you know about a patent infringement and do nothing about it then you loose the right to defend your patent. so companies like Apple HAVE to be in patent suits (granted they take this to extremes).

    However, while other companies buy up patents and then rent them out to other companies, apple develops or buys up IP and then just sits on it as a tool to remove competition from the market (especially foreign markets that have patent laws that are not 'broken'). The chief example of this would be an article on Tom's last year about how MS makes ~$5-10 on each and every android phone sold on the market because of the patent deals they have with Google, while Apple and Samsung both try killing each-other on a daily basis. One side thrives because of the deal they have struck, while the other side just festers and gives money away to lawyers.
  • 1 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , June 1, 2012 8:13 PM
    dextermatonly one thing to say "THE ONE WHO SMELT IT DEALT IT"

    Whoever supplied it, denied it.

    Oh wait, that's Google...or, is it?
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