A Defense Of Copying

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 27 2011 @ 7:33am

Among other innovations, Apple patented this: Slide_to_unlock Timothy B Lee wants to reform patent laws to encourage the borrowing of good ideas: 

Google and Samsung clearly did “steal” Apple’s technology. A number of key concepts, such as pinch-to-zoom, were first introduced on the iPhone and later incorporated into Android. The iPhone was an innovative product, and obviously Apple’s competitors are going to want to match it feature for feature. The important question isn’t whether such “stealing” occurred, it’s whether we want to live in a world where it’s illegal. Do you want to live in a world where only Apple is allowed to make phones with pinch-to-zoom capability (and dozens of other features) until 2027? I sure don’t.

Yglesias agrees:

I remember well when Microsoft unveiled Windows with its “Recycle Bin” function that happened to be exactly the same as Apple’s longstanding “Trash” function. It was slightly offensive to human dignity that they were copying both the function and the metaphor while slapping a slightly different name on it to seem like they weren’t copying. But the world is a better place for it. It’s a good function and a good metaphor, so as many people as possible should use it.