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Apple CEO Tim Cook: Patent Wars Are 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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  • dextermat
    only one thing to say "THE ONE WHO SMELT IT DEALT IT"
    Reply
  • house70
    "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.
    Reply
  • freggo
    dextermatonly one thing to say "THE ONE WHO SMELT IT DEALT IT"
    Absolutely right!
    Pot and Kettle... if it is black ;-)
    Reply
  • fulle
    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.
    Reply
  • apone
    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.
    Reply
  • gm0n3y
    Wow, talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

    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?
    Reply
  • RogueKitsune
    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
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • willard
    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...
    Reply