Tim Cook: Patent Wars Are “Pain in the Ass”

Apple CEO Tim Cook, in an interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at the AllThingsD D10 conference, was very straightforward and to the point when asked about patent wars, simply commenting that they’re a “pain in the ass.”

Kara: Let’s talk about the patent wars. Is that a problem for innovation?

Cook: It’s a pain in the ass. Is it a problem for innovation? From our point of view, it’s important that Apple not be the developer for the world. We don’t want to put all of ourselves in a painting and have someone else put their signature on it. If you’re an engineer, the worst thing is for you to put your life into something and have someone else rip it off and put their name on it. We just want people to invent their own stuff and not rip us off.

Walt: Other people are saying you’re ripping them off too. People are suing you too.

Cook: The vast majority of those are on standards essential patents. Standards essential patents come with a responsible manner to license them. Like a patent to connect to a 3G data network — there’s no way to connect to the network without using this patent.

The issue is that this is an economic argument — no one should be able to get an injunction off a standards essential patent. The owner has a responsibility to license it in a fair, reasonable manner. When someone comes to you and asks for an obscene level of money from you. They’re telling you they want to get an injunction against you and use the court system like that. In my view using it in a way not intended.

Cook declined to comment about the settlement talks with Samsung in which he was present, but did humorously mention that he read about it in the newspaper.


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