Why did the Apple smile? It knew how to protect its ideas

Why did the Apple smile? It knew how to protect its ideas

The US tech company has become one of the world's most valuable, thanks to a smart value chain and patented designs

If you understand Apple's "smile curve", you know why the tech company's former CEO Steve Jobs smiled the same way.

The U-shaped line shows the value added across Apple's supply chain, from product design to customer service.

The US benefits the most from the deal, despite more than half of the production process taking place in other countries. The secret to its success is intellectual property (IP).

Intellectual Capital

Albert Einstein said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge", and IP law protects ideas from being stolen or copied.

In the age of information, knowledge has become more valuable than financial wealth.

Various forms of IP, such as patents, trademarks, designs and copyright, protect inventions by giving the owner a legal right to stop others from using, manufacturing, selling or importing an idea.

For example, there are 200 patents for just a single iPhone, covering every aspect of its design, such as the home button and the swiping gesture to unlock the phone.

The power of IP was shown this year, when Apple successfully argued that Samsung had copied some of its iPhone design, and won US$548 million in damages.

Signposts to success

Becoming as successful as Apple may seem remote, but there's plenty of support for those who have big dreams and innovative ideas.

City University of Hong Kong gives students a platform for their creative ideas.

Courses such as Global Business System Management and competitions like My Own Discovery encourage students to discover, innovate, and share their ideas.

Meanwhile, the office of Education Development and Gateway Education also supports students by running consultation services to nurture ideas, and offering funding to apply for IP.

Students have access to professional equipment, including the Active Learning Space, equipped with 3D scanners, 3D printers, and a scanning electron microscope to help turn ideas into prototypes.

My idea is already in line for an IP application this year.

So what are you waiting for? Aim high and draw your own "smile curve"!

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Why Apple is smiling

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