News Analysis: You need a copy of Cliff Notes to sort out all the claims and counterclaims in the lawsuits involving Apple, Motorola Android and Microsoft, but not directly involving Google-so far.
You'd think this would be an easy story to write. You
start off with a leading paragraph that says, basically, that everybody
is suing everybody else
. You could describe it as a sort of a rugby scrum,
but with suits and briefcases. And believe it or not, it seems there are even
more players than a rugby scrum-lots more.
The ruling instinct in this case seems to be that when
you're not having enough fun making tons of money, why not have even more fun
trying to keep someone else from making quite so much money too?
If all of that sounds confusing, that's only because it
is. As of today, as far as I can tell, Apple is suing Motorola over the use of
multitouch, which was actually invented by Microsoft. Microsoft
is suing Motorola
over something obscure related to Android-I'm guessing it's
the use of something called "software," which was actually invented
by Grace Hopper.
is suing Apple
for more alleged infringements. Surprisingly, nobody is
suing anyone else for the use of "radio," which was invented by
Loomis (not Marconi, although by the time Marconi came along, Loomis was dead
and couldn't sue).
If this weren't such a time-honored tradition in the
technology business, I'd bemoan how those resources could be better used to do
something like inventing products with working antennas. But that's kind of
beside the point. After all, Robert Goddard's widow sued NASA and won because
the soon-to-be-out-of-space space agency was using Goddard's invention of the
liquid fuel rocket without permission or royalties. NASA had to pay up, not
that it made much difference in NASA's ability to run a space program.
I could go on and talk about the suit by engineer Philo
Farnsworth: Farnsworth sued RCA and its leader, General David Sarnoff, over the
royalties for his invention of something called "television." Like
Mrs. Goddard, Farnsworth won, and went on to invent useful technology gadgets
such as nuclear weapons parts.
But in this case, we're talking about a pair of guys
named Steve. One of them really has been an innovator and there's no question
about his contributions to technology. The other is primarily a business
executive, but he's been the enabling force behind some innovations as