Apple’s (wrong) idea of giving ideas a “patentable” status keeps finding its way into the media’s mind. Whether this is a direct consequence or a side effect of a spin doctor’s devised strategy, doesn’t change the fact the the more and more journalists fell into this trap.
The latest example is a Vanity Fair column that accounts for the Samsung vs Apple patent trial. At a certain point the columnist writes:
Bit by bit, the new model for a Samsung smartphone began to lookâ€”and functionâ€”just like the iPhone. Icons on the home screen had similarly rounded corners, size, and false depth created by a reflective shine across the image. The icon for the phone function went from being a drawing of a keypad to a virtually identical reproduction of the iPhoneâ€™s image of a handset. The bezel with the rounded corners, the glass spreading out across the entire face of the phone, the home button at the bottomâ€”all of it almost the same.
While, from a patent infringement’s perspective, the similarities of the physical appearance between the devices have some merit, the fact that both phones shared similar or even the same functionality has none. You can’t protect a software functionality as such, because only the relevant source code can: this is clear for legal scholars, not so for the outsider of the legal community.
But this lack of knowledge helps planting into the people’s mind the seed of the “give-idea-a-patent tree”. Once grown into politician’s mind (notoriously not so versed in the legal subtleties), this tree will likely offspring a poisoned fruit in the form of some new (case) law that will finally give Apple what it aggressively looks for: power over thought.