Eric Schmidt, Google’s Executive Chairman, is expanding on a few remarks that he made while traveling around Asia for the Korean launch of the Nexus 7. He made it clear that he is against patent wars in the mobile phone industry, and is especially frustrated with the recent patent wars between Apple and other companies like Samsung.
According to the Korea Times, Schmidt thinks companies should be competing in the marketplace with their products, and patent disputes are actually hurting consumer choice and preventing innovation. He said:
I think one of the worst things that happened in the last few years has been the belief that somehow there are so man patents in the mobile phone world, an estimated 200,000 that are overlapping and complicated and so forth, that one vendor can stop the sale of another vendor’s phones or devices.
He also said that, contrary to what many might believe, Apple is a very good partner and “our two companies are literally talking all the time about everything.” He added, “With respect to Apple patents, the best thing we can tell there are plenty of prior arts and I don’t want to go beyond that.”
Schmidt also made it clear that he has a strong relationship with Samsung as well. Many believe that Apple’s real target is Google though. On whether or not Google will assist vendors, Schmidt said, “all I want to say publicly (is that) we fully intend to support the ecosystem as it evolves. The Android ecosystem is really central, in my view, to the successful moving forward of the market.”
Schmidt also expressed his excitement over the smartphone’s success in Korea:
Your country has gone from having almost no smartphones three years ago; and it happened everywhere in just three years.. The technology that can really change lives and people’s existence is happening now, and is within sight, and especially visible in Korea. I like Korea because Korea represents the best mobile usage, and that is what I’ve been working on.
Listen, we’re not the biggest fans of the patent wars here either, but Schmidt’s words are spoken as someone who just saw one of their Android partners lose a court case to the tune of $1 billion dollars. It’s easy to say governments and laws should let “innovation” play out in the marketplace, but the reality of the situation is that while some minute patents are obnoxiously enforced, companies still blatantly copy each other’s products to make a quick buck while trying to catch up to an industry leader. The success of the iPhone and the downfall of Blackberry is a clear indication that letting the market determine who’s successful and who isn’t in a market can, in fact, work. But, for every clear cut case like that, there’s a company like Samsung who has no problem “borrowing” or shamelessly outright stealing designs just to compete. As long as that continues, there will continue to be patent wars between companies.
Oh, we should also keep in mind that Eric Schmidt was on Apple’s board for a while when the company was discussing and developing the original iPhone. Not long after that a mysterious Android operating system from Google appeared in the wild. So yeah, Eric Schmidt would think that patents are bad, wouldn’t he.