The New York Times’ excellent iEconomy series wrapped up this morning with a look into the current patent wars going on between Apple and other technology companies. A close read reveals several disconcerting facts: over $20 billion was spent on patent litigation and acquisition in 2011, which a hefty chunk of money. Also, in 2011, Google and Apple spent more on patents than on research and development. If there was ever a statistic that backs up the “patents are hindering creativity” argument, you’ve got it.
Of course, that individual statistic takes into account Google’s patent-motivated $12 billion purchase of Motorola. Still, the feature story does give some convincing evidence that a revision of the software patent system is in order. It details the story of a software company developing voice-recognition tools that was given an ultimatum: sell the company or get sued. It also details how Apple’s CEO during the last decade, Steve Jobs, decided to start patenting everything–even rounded icons–after a huge lawsuit with Creative over the iPod.
The whole story is worth a read at the New York Times.