Stop the patent insanity -- now!

Patent battles between Apple, Samsung, Google, Microsoft, and more are dragging down the tech industry. It's time to end the madness

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Quick, somebody call the Nobel committee, I think we have a winner.

Apple has already been accused of submitting images of Samsung's smartphones and tablets that were doctored to look more like Apple's. Samsung, meanwhile, is relying on the science fiction defense. Its attorneys filed a brief this week citing Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" as evidence of prior art for the iPad. You know what? Samsung might be right. Those computers in that photo sure look iPaddish to me.

Naturally, Samsung is countersuing Apple, claiming it violated at least 10 Samsung patents. Need I mention that Samsung is a major supplier of parts for Apple products, to the tune of nearly $6 billion last year?

Is this all just posturing, an attempt to exert market control or extract a few dollars per unit out of the competition? Maybe. But it's killing innovation, not rewarding it.

Right now Congress is mulling a "patent reform" bill -- the first major change to U.S. patent laws in more than half a century. But it just looks like more of the same old same old, favoring corporations over individuals and doing little to kill off patent trolls or stave off lawsuits.

Me, I'm with PCWorld's Katherine Noyes, who argues (along with many others) that software patents like the one described above need to go the way of the buggy whip and the rotary phone:

Patents are causing harm throughout the software industry… What's especially crazy about it all is that we simply don't need software patents. We have copyright, and that provides innovators with more than enough protection at a fraction of the expense.

It's time to call off this insane patent arms race, or we will all pay a steep price.

Amen to that, sister.

Are patents killing the tech industry? If so, what are you gonna do about it? Plot your schemes below or email me the skinny: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "Stop the patent insanity -- now!," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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