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Ethical Issues In ICT: Apple Patent Case

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Question:

Discuss about the Ethical Issues in ICT for Apple Patent Case.

 

Answer:

Introduction

ICT is an acronym for Information and Communication Technology and the world of ICT has experienced some massive transformations in the recent times. There are a wide variety of products, services and applications that come under ICT which includes huge chunks of data and information. Because of the expansion of ICT at such a large scale, there are many issues in association with ethics and ethical dilemmas that have come up. The document analyzes one such case study from the field ICT from an ethical perspective by applying various ethical theories on it.

Background of Case Study

Apple and Samsung are the two names that are the giants in the world of Smartphones. Both of these companies are the prime rivals of each other and keep on competing for achieving higher share in the market. Apple had accused Samsung for violating and copying some of its patented features which came under the legal obligation of violation of Intellectual Property in 2011. The copying of features by Samsung caused damaged to Apple in terms of market share and customer base. The final verdict regarding the case was presented by Honorable Supreme Court and it was stated that some of the charges were not true and there was an amount that was required to be paid by Samsung (Balakrishnan, 2016).

Ethical Analysis

Theory of Utilitarianism

As per the ethical theory of Utilitarianism, an act can be termed as ethically correct if it causes benefits to larger people. The impact or the results should therefore cause great benefits to the parties involved.  In this case, Apple did not gain any benefits and rather had to suffer from the damage that was caused due to copying of the features by Samsung. The productivity levels of the employees engaged with Apple also came down due to the rift between the two companies.  Customers however gained benefits as they could experience advanced features at lower costs (West, 2004). The act that has been stated in the case study did not cause benefits to the majority of sections and therefore is termed as ethically incorrect act (Jacobson, 2008).

 

Theory of Deontology

As per the ethical theory of Deontology, it is necessary for the processes to stick to the rules and standards that are associated with it so that the ethical correctness can be achieved. The features that Apple had reported and claimed to have been copied by Samsung included quick links, background sync, auto-correction and several others. Samsung also accused Apple of copying its folder structure and organization along with features of camera and video transmission. Since all of these features were patented by one of the companies, there is a clear violation of the rules around Intellectual Property that can be observed. The analysis that is carried out on the case study as per the theory of Deontology infers that the act done by Samsung and Apple was ethically incorrect (Friend, 2015).

Virtue Ethics

Every human being considers happiness as a prime virtue and goal in life. Virtue Ethics states that if an act causes happiness to self then the act is correct on the basis of ethics (Grcic, 2013). The primary reason behind the copying of features by Samsung and Apple was to allow their customers to experience advanced features and gain happiness from the purchase that they make. Also, there were selfish interests that were also involved that included the growth of the company along with better revenues (Hursthouse, 2012). The happiness of the customers was being provided by causing damage to the other company which resulted in huge loss. Since, the virtues that were involved in this case were not correct on the ethical grounds; the activity is termed as ethically incorrect.  

Theory of Social Contract

Social guidelines are required to be followed as per the rules and guidelines that are defined in a particular community or a society (Friend, 2017). There are various companies that come under and carry out operations in the field of ICT. The primary goal for all of these companies is to provide high-quality services to the clients and the customers without causing any sort of damage to any entity. If all the companies that work in similar areas and domains start copying the features and functionalities of each other then there will be a lot of mess created. In case of Samsung and Apple, both the companies differed to agree to the norms of social contract and copied the patented features of one another. As per the theory of social contract, since there is a lot of violation of the norms, the activities are evaluated to be ethically incorrect.

Conclusion

There are a wide variety of products, services and applications that come under ICT which includes huge chunks of data and information. Because of the expansion of ICT at such a large scale, there are many issues in association with ethics and ethical dilemmas that have come up. Apple and Samsung are the two names that are the giants in the world of Smartphones. Both of these companies are the prime rivals of each other and keep on competing for achieving higher share in the market. Apple had accused Samsung for violating and copying some of its patented features which came under the legal obligation of violation of Intellectual Property. In return, Samsung also accused Apple on the similar charges. The scenario was analyzed on the basis of several theories of ethics such as Virtue Ethics, Deontology and Utilitarianism along with that of social contract. The activities stated in the case study were evaluated as ethically incorrect as per all the theories. It is therefore necessary for the organizations to stick to the ethical and professional code of conduct in all their operations and processes to avoid any violations of ethics.

 

References

Balakrishnan, A. (2016). Supreme Court sides with Samsung in Apple patent damages dispute. CNBC. Retrieved 3 May 2017, from https://www.cnbc.com/2016/12/06/supreme-court-rules-for-samsung-in-apple-patent-case.html

Friend, C. (2017). Social Contract Theory | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Iep.utm.edu. Retrieved 3 May 2017, from https://www.iep.utm.edu/soc-cont/

Grcic, J. (2013). Virtue Theory, Relativism and Survival. Retrieved 3 May 2017, from https://www.ijssh.org/papers/273-C10018.pdf

Hursthouse, R. (2012). Virtue Ethics and Human Nature. Retrieved 3 May 2017, from https://www.humesociety.org/hs/issues/v25n1-2/hursthouse/hursthouse-v25n1-2.pdf

Jacobson, D. (2008). Utilitarianism without Consequentialism: The Case of John Stuart Mill. Retrieved 3 May 2017, from https://www.pgrim.org/philosophersannual/pa28articles/jacobson.pdf

Nill, M. (2015). Deontology. Retrieved 3 May 2017, from https://cw.routledge.com/ref/ethics/entries/deontology.pdf

West, H. (2004). An Introduction to Mill’s Utilitarian Ethics. Retrieved 3 May 2017, from https://assets.cambridge.org/97805218/28321/sample/9780521828321ws.pdf

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