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The iPhone 5 launch on Wednesday, Sept. 12, is sure to be the most important event for tech investors this year. The Motley Fool will be hosting a live chat where our top tech analysts will answer your questions and break down what the announcement means for Apple and tech investors everywhere. Be sure to swing by Fool.com at 12:45 p.m. ET this Wednesday for all your coverage of Apple's next big announcement.
I find it funny how legal disputes can turn global giants into squabbling children. The latest example comes from the evergreen disputes between Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) and Samsung. The mobile titans are jockeying for position in a Dutch patent dispute, and I'd imagine that the exchange went something like this:
Samsung: Your honor, there's no way we could infringe on Apple's touchscreen patents because our multitouch solution for Android phones really stinks.
Apple: Oh, no, Samsung's interface is clearly just as sophisticated as ours, and there's no way they could have invented that on their own!
In short, Samsung downplays the quality of its own technology while Apple insists that it's just as good as Cupertino's. Apple wants to ban Samsung's smartphones and tablets from sale in the Netherlands, and Sammy takes every available legal avenue to avoid that grim fate.
European courts have a tendency to refer to each others' patent rulings, so the outcome here could have cascading effects in larger markets like Germany, France, and the U.K. The Netherlands holds a special place in Samsung's heart, since the South Korean company's European import center rests on Dutch soil, giving this case even more weight.
So Samsung underscores how much harder it is to write apps around its multitouch solution, while Apple spotlights how similar the end results really are. "They suggest that they have a lesser solution, but that is simply not true," Apple lawyers argued to the panel of four Dutch judges.
This childish argument only highlights how inadequate the current idea of technology patents really is. It's not just an American problem, but a global one. The legal status of brand-new inventions and tiny incremental evolutions alike often hinge on word choices in patent filings. The whole system relies more on semantics than on innovation.
And by the time the lawyers settle their differences, the real world has moved on. Apple may indeed get Samsung's current batch of Galaxy devices banned across Europe -- but by then, the Koreans will have another version ready for sale. And the whole cycle starts over again.
Lather, rinse, repeat, and don't forget to pay your lawyer. It's hard to see how this process actually benefits Apple, Samsung, inventors, investors, or society at large. Patents do add value in some industries, but the technology sector just moves too fast for the lazy wheels of patent law to keep up.
But hey, at least we get to laugh at the logical pretzels people bend themselves into along the way.
To help investors understand the opportunities and challenges ahead of Apple -- in and out of the courtroom -- we've created a brand-new report on that august stock. It not only details reasons to buy and sell the company, but it also comes with continuing guidance and updates in the influential months ahead. Not only that, but you also get plenty of extras, like our new report on which iPhone suppliers are set to gain the most from the iPhone 5 launch. Get started now.