Moore’s computational law may stand unopposed, but the rate of innovation has been substantially slowed in recent decade due to efforts at reinforcing and strengthening copyright.
In the case of smartphones, the rate of innovation has suffered as use of patents held by many companies are embroiled in painful and expensive litigation, the kind that most individuals or small companies are the least likely to endure in terms of cost.
Today, Google Inc. General Counsel Kent Walker expressed his opinions on the matter, stating that “Software patents are kind of gumming up the works of innovation.”
While Google has a substantial budget, its Android efforts have been also slowed, if for nothing more than the mere fact that Android is a relatively new player, whereas most patents are held by industry leaders who have been in the mobile business for some time.
While its efforts to purchase many of patents involved are genuine, the patents are held by rather eager litigants. Microsoft, for example, has more than 18,000 patents in its portfolio. As such, Microsoft is allowed to refuse use of these to any business, intentionally retarding the process of innovation, barring its competition from access.
While some contest that this is expected, especially since companies invest their time and money into development, others point out that any incremental improvements that would naturally occur in an open source environment are impossible to implement when copyright is held for lengthy periods.
Unlike its competition, Google has only 4000 patents in its porfolio, relying on majority open source programming and exclusively so for its Android smartphone lines.