The Rhetoric of Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory: Conflicting Visions of Innovation in the Smart Phone Patent Wars

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In this article, I investigate the rhetoric of Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (RAND) licensing agreements, which are used to share patented technologies. RAND agreements are an essential part of the so-called “Patent War” that took place between Microsoft, Google, and Motorola Mobility from 2010 to 2015. I view the rhetoric surrounding the RAND-related aspects of this conflict through two theoretical lenses: Charles Taylor’s concept of the social imaginary and Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca’s notion of rhetorical communion. Ultimately, I argue that the sides in this conflict use radically different rhetorical concepts to shape their discourse surrounding RAND agreements. These differences suggest different approaches to technological innovation. Microsoft’s use of social imaginaries suggests a view of innovation as collaboration among firms, while Google’s creation of rhetorical communion (especially through the device of allusion) depicts a view of innovation that is much more rooted in the notion of the inspired author.


This article was originally published in Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric


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