Published on 24/10/2012

Patent right distinctions are complex. "That's why patents are purposefully vague; whether or not a patent is infringed depends first on the scope of the patent," says Jeremy Johnson, senior associate at Wynn Williams. "From there the court looks at technical evidence to determine if there has been any infringement."

A patent grants "a monopoly to the patent holder to prevent other manufacturers from using what was invented", Johnson continues. "In an infringement action, no loss needs to have been suffered necessarily. So, in this case, Apple needs to have lost no business due to the alleged infringement; it has an absolute right to stop others from using its invention."

The unanswered question is whether, as a matter of public policy, Apple's patents should be protected in this way. "Patents grant patent holders considerable monopoly rights," says Johnson. "In theory that is to provide for an economic incentive to inventors. But is that economic incentive stifled when Apple, or any other phone maker, can monopolise rounded corners on phones?"

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