You seem to be trying to make this into a moral or ethical issue, when it is nothing of the sort. It is a legal & financial issue.
The "I did nothing wrong because it was legal" excuse doesn't hold water with me. Patent law (and the companies that exploit it) is indeed wrong, because it INHIBITS innovation and results in wealth not from productive work, but government-granted privilege. I quote from an historical example:
In late 1764, while repairing a small Newcomen steam engine, the idea of allowing steam to expand and condense in separate containers sprang into the mind of James Watt. He spent the next few months in unceasing labor building a model of the new engine. In 1768, after a series of improvements and substantial borrowing, he applied for a patent on the idea. August 1768 found Watt in London about the patent and he spent another 6 months working hard to obtain it. The patent was finally awarded in January 1769. Nothing much happened, in terms of production, for a few years until, in 1775, after another major effort supported by his new business partner Matthew Boulton, Watt secured an Act of Parliament extending his 1769 patent until the year 1800... Once Watt's patents were secured, a substantial portion of his energy was devoted to fending off rival inventors. In 1782, Watt secured an additional patent, made necessary in consequence of ...having been so unfairly anticipated, by [Matthew] Wasborough in the crank motion. More dramatically, in the 1790s, when the superior and independently designed Hornblower engine was put into production, Boulton and Watt went after him with the full force of the legal system. In contrast to Watt, who died a rich man, the inventor Jonathan Hornblower was not only forced to close shop, but found himself ruined and in jail. Prior to the start of Watt's commercial production in 1776, there were 510 steam engines in the U.K., most using the inefficient Newcomen design. These engines generated about 5,000 horsepower. By 1800, when Watt's patents expired, there were still only 2,250 steam engines used in the U.K., of which only 449 were the superior Boulton and Watt engines, the rest being old Newcomen engines. The total horsepower of these engines was 35,000 at best. In 1815, fifteen years after the expiration of the Watt patents, it is estimated that nearly 100,000 horsepower was installed in the U.K., while by 1830 the horsepower coming from steam engines reached 160,000. The fuel efficiency of steam engines is not thought to have changed at all during the period of Watt's patent; while between 1810 and 1835 it is estimated to have increased by a factor of five. After the expiration of the patents in 1800, not only was there an explosion in the production of engines, but steam power finally came into its own as the driving force of the industrial revolution. In the next 30 years steam engines were modified and improved, and such crucial innovations as the steam train, the steamboat and the steam jenny all came into wide usage. The key innovation was the high-pressure steam engine -development of which had been blocked by Watt by strategically using his 1775 patent. Many new improvements to the steam engine, such as those of William Bull, Richard Trevithick, and Arthur Woolf, became available by 1804: although developed earlier these innovations were kept idle until the Boulton and Watt patent expired. None of these innovators wished to incur the same fate as Jonathan Hornblower.In fact, it is only after their patents expired that Boulton and Watt really started to manufacture steam engines. Before then their activity consisted primarily of extracting hefty monopolistic royalties. Independent contractors produced most of the parts, and Boulton and Watt merely oversaw the assembly of the components by the purchasers.
Saying Watt acted "within the law" doesn't change the fact that everyone except Watt was MUCH better off when he couldn't bludgeon competitors with his damn patents. So it is in today's environment.
I really don't know what Apple's detractors want here. They seem to think the current patent litigation landscape was invented whole cloth by Apple, and that if Apple just "played nice" and stopped suing people who use its patented tech and copy its designs, then the problem would go away.
WHAT "problem"? Better phones put out by companies striving to put out the best possible product, instead of wasting resources on lawyers? People sometimes forget that it's MAKING things that people want that's what it's all about, not using legal decrees to protect corporate profits.
You want to vent some moral outrage?? How about aiming it at the patent trolls, which in most cases are shell companies (set up & run by greedy IP lawyers) that exist only to sue companies that actually develop and make products.
Aren't they just acting "within the law", Craig?
until we tear down the current patent system and reinvent it for the modern era, all of this mess is just going to continue.
Now we agree. I think the concept of patents should be done away with, period.