As someone who for a living follows Washington, D.C. and its denizens – I have developed a pretty high threshold for hypocrisy. Perhaps part of it is innate – I was born just outside of DC, so maybe being so close to the source puts something in the water that inoculates you.
No matter how or why – it takes some whiplash-inducing dissimulation to garner my attention and interest. In the field of intellectual property (IP) and its protection (or lack thereof) – my high hypocrisy resistance is routinely overwhelmed.
There is currently underway an IP fight – that is full-on hypocrisy overload. And the company causing my neck to spin all the way round – like an owl eyeing a sprinting mouse – is Apple.
Apple Sues Qualcomm Over Patent Royalties: “Apple also wants back some of the billions of dollars it claims it was overcharged in ‘Qualcomm’s illegal scheme’ to control the market for mobile phone chips.”
No, what Qualcomm is doing – is engaging in a legal, very reasonable effort to control the market for its patents. Apple wanted to use Qualcomm’s patents, Apple signed contracts to use them, Apple used them – and now Apple is trying to get out of paying for using them.
Having not a toe – let alone a leg – on which to stand, Apple Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tim Cook is hurling lame insults and really terrible, totally un-analogous analogies: “Cook took a shot at Qualcomm, one of the main chip suppliers for the iPhone…Apple sued the chipmaker earlier this month,…alleging that Qualcomm charges Apple ‘at least five times more in’ royalty payments than all of Apple’s other patent licensors combined.”
Look, I don’t manufacture smart phones – so I don’t know if Cook’s charge that Qualcomm charges that much more than everyone else is true. What I do know – is that at this point in the process, it is utterly irrelevant. Apple signed patent deals at those rates – so Apple needs to pay those rates.
Cook should stick to making computers – because making analogies isn’t his strong suit: “It’s somewhat like buying a sofa and you charge somebody a different price depending upon the house that it goes into.”
This flawed thinking is egregiously damaging to IP all over the globe – and will ultimately help to undermine the entirety of the information economy. In which, at this point, most of the world is engaged.
And using patents is not like buying a sofa – it is like buying electricity. You use more – you pay more. Apple makes a LOT of iPhones – so they pay more for Qualcomm’s patents. Certainly more than I would were I to get out of the DC business and into the phone business – because I would be using Qualcomm’s patents a little less frequently than does Apple.
Apple’s efforts to duck their patent bills – isn’t limited to Qualcomm: “A jury has ordered Apple to pay $626 million in damages after finding that iMessage, FaceTime and other Apple software infringed on another company’s patents….VirnetX accused Apple of violating four of its patents, which mostly involve methods for real-time communications over the Internet.”
We get it – Apple doesn’t like paying for other peoples’ patents. But here comes the neck-breaking hypocrisy. Apple LOVES getting paid for its patents – and is exuberantly happy to sue anyone who they think hasn’t paid in full: “According to Apple, Samsung has stolen a number of key iOS features and design elements, and used them when making its Galaxy smartphones and tablets. Back in 2012 a jury agreed to some extent, and Apple was ultimately awarded nearly $1 billion in damages as a result. Now, Apple and Samsung find themselves in Judge Lucy Koh’s California court once again to argue over whether or not Samsung stole a different set of patents owned by Apple.”
And it ain’t just phone patents Apple looks to protect. They’ve been suing to protect their computer patents – for decades: “In 1988, Apple sued Microsoft for infringing on the patents regarding the look and feel of its operating system.”
Get that? Apple sues to protect its patents – and sues to get out of paying for other people’s patents.
Even for lifelong, devoted DC observers – this is some serious, professional-grade hypocrisy.
This first appeared in Red State.