Remember when the Library of Congress issued policy that effectively created law surrounding (and making explicitly legal) “jailbreaking” your smartphone? Of course you do; it was only about a month ago.
It took Apple just a few weeks to respond. Their method? A new software patent filing. Apple has already filed for a patent on software that would examine your Smartphone for bad stuff, and if they found anything they didn’t approve of could cripple your device.
I could go all indignant here and rant about how Apple has no right to mess with your phone, smart or otherwise. I could cite examples of software companies that won’t cripple your software if they believe it to be pirated even if they can, and tell you how smart I believe that decision to be. But the real story here is the software patent Apple has filed for.
Let’s cover those first points, quickly. FIRST: Apple has the “Right” to do anything they want, until a law stops them. Even then, they have the right to ignore that law and roll the dice on what happens when they do. SECOND: the software companies that act as I described above cover themselves another way; they build expiration dates into their software and simply refuse to renew licenses that they don’t consider to be illegitimate.
Since the first point can’t be discussed except in the abstract and the second point would be incredibly easy for Apple to implement, all there is to discuss is this patent application.
As you know, I’m outspoken in my belief that software patents are a bad idea unless they actually describe and incorporate something unique and specifically disclose what’s unique and why. Apple is now trying to claim as unique the idea that if they see something bad they should be able to turn it off.
Unique? Really? I can’t even think of a way to MAKE that idea unique. And I really hope that someone challenges this patent application under the very simple tenet of the existence of prior art.
But let’s get to the real point: Apple knows they couldn’t really defend this patent. If they ever tried to sue an “infringer” for using this “technology” they’d lose both the case and the patent itself. This patent application isn’t about that at all; it’s about Apple putting words on the record with the United States Patent and Trademark Office that defend them, however tangentially, against the people who will scream when Apple deactivates their phones after they exercised their legally-protected and established right to modify them.
And because it’s a software patent, it’s so complicated that Apple will use it for years to do exactly that.
Patents are supposed to be about protecting unique inventions. Apple has filed for one to do nothing of the sort.