Pinch-to-zoom

Wow.  I’m pretty blown away about how hard the jury came down on Samsung for violating Apple’s patents, including pinch-to-zoom (technically, repeat pinch-to-zoom), enlarging docs by tapping, application bounce-back, rounded icons and more.  The NYT has an overview here but I actually like Business Insider’s summary of the actual six patents that were violated.

Like the NYT says, a billion dollar penalty is the least of Samsung’s and Google Android’s worries.  The issue is that they can’t use features that adults have become accustomed to and kids learn before they are two years old.  No, my kid still hasn’t figured it all out, but the neighbor’s 18 month old can get around an iPhone easier than an adult!

I’m a longtime iPhone user and I have huge respect for Apple pushing innovation in the design of its products, really integrating hardware and software to change the ways we interact with our world.  It is just hard to believe they’ll hold patents on things like pinch-to-zoom and enlarging documents through tapping that now seem to be like good design versus a differentiator for Apple’s products.

I actually think the ruling is pretty harsh.  I love that it encourages innovation and rewards companies for really investing in innovation, but I’m worried that other companies will be prevented from innovating without being able to build on previous advances.

In any case, it seems for technology advances, a 20 year patent is pretty long.  Maybe the patent length for technologies like this should be 5 years… or 3 years!

PS, I guess I’m not switching from my iPhone anytime soon!