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Apple plans to protect its iPhone against all contenders.

Palm's new Pre multitouch smart phone -- does the Pre infringe on Apple's patents, and rip off the iPhone's looks? You decide.  (Source: ZDNet)
Apple infers Palm's Pre phone may infringe on its IP, Palm says its not afraid of a fight

Apple created a fuss when Apple's Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook gave some pointed comments directed towards Palm.  The exchange took place during Apple’s recent earnings call.  During the Q&A, one of the reporters asks, "There are other iPhone competitors coming to the market: Android, Palm Pre. How do you think about sustaining leadership in the face of these competitors?"

That's when things went south.  COO Cook responded, "It's difficult to compare to products that are not yet in the market. IPhone has seen terrific rating from customers. Software is the key ingredient, and we believe that we are years ahead of our competitors. Having different screen sizes, different input methods, and different hardware makes things difficult for developers. We view iPhone as primarily a software platform, which is different from our competitors. We don't mind competition, but if others rip off our intellectual property, we will go after them."

Smartly picking up on recent talk of the similarity between Palm's upcoming "Pre" phone and the iPhone's interface, the reporter responds, "The Palm device seems to directly emulate the iPhone's innovative interface. Is that what you're referring to?"

Mr. Cook responds with a veiled threat, stating, "We don't want to refer to any specific companies, so that was a general statement. We like competition because it makes us better, but we will not stand for companies infringing on our IP."

If it weren't for the issues surrounding Palm's new phone, perhaps the comments could be considered ambiguous.  However, Palm's new phone features a multi-touch interface eerily similar to the iPhone's, the first smart phone outside the iPhone to implement this.  Further, it's developed by Jon Rubinstein, formerly Apple's head hardware engineer, who surely had intimate knowledge of the iPhone's inner workings.  He is not alone -- Palm's ranks are populated with ex-Apple engineers.

Well, perhaps the issue might have been settled or simply moved forward to less talk and more legal action, but Palm decided to take a jab back at Apple.  Palm spokesperson Lynn Fox basically tells Apple to “bring it” in a recent comment to the blog All Things Digital.  She states, "Palm has a long history of innovation that is reflected in our products and robust patent portfolio (31 pages of patents in Google Patent Search), and we have long been recognized for our fundamental patents in the mobile space.  If faced with legal action, we are confident that we have the tools necessary to defend ourselves."

Based on Apple's comments, many in the blogosphere are hinting that legal action from Apple seems inevitable when Palm pushes ahead with its new smartphone.  With a history of aggressive litigation, Apple seems unlikely to fail to back its threats. 

And with Palm's hopes of a turnaround riding on its new phone, it's not about to give up without a fight.  Thus the battle for the smart phone, and perhaps total phone sales crown may not be waged by the consumers this year, but in the courts.

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Oh Boy!
By Gzus666 on 1/23/2009 9:38:37 AM , Rating: 5
Nothing like Apple's vague, silly patents to brighten up your day. What other obscure things will Apple patent in the name of anti-competitiveness?

RE: Oh Boy!
By SlipDizzy on 1/23/2009 10:00:43 AM , Rating: 5
It's funny that he speaks about liking competition because it makes them better, but in the same sentence he references their IP. I doubt Apple wants real competition, they just want people to pretend they are competing.

RE: Oh Boy!
By Gzus666 on 1/23/2009 10:05:31 AM , Rating: 5
Pretty much. Apple is becoming worse than Microsoft used to be back in the day.

RE: Oh Boy!
By jiteo on 1/23/09, Rating: -1
RE: Oh Boy!
By omnicronx on 1/23/2009 11:32:04 AM , Rating: 3
To once again play devils advocate, They do own the MP3 market, and the online music market. In the computer market, their business stragety is not designed to have a large marketshare. They make a lot of money selling high margin products with less than 10% share when compared to MS whose profits are less than 3 times more with around 90% share.

RE: Oh Boy!
By jiteo on 1/23/2009 3:20:08 PM , Rating: 2
They do own the portable media player market, but there's plenty of competition. It's just that the competition tends to suck :P

RE: Oh Boy!
By VashHT on 1/23/2009 5:26:00 PM , Rating: 5
I'd say it's more a case of the competetion's marketing sucking, there are plenty of mp3 plays out that are at least as good as the ipod for less money.

RE: Oh Boy!
By SoCalBoomer on 1/23/2009 1:22:41 PM , Rating: 2
They want to steal their competition. Yes, I'm still bitter about Konfabulator!

RE: Oh Boy!
By omnicronx on 1/23/2009 10:12:17 AM , Rating: 5
Worst part is, thats the layout palm has been using for years, long before the iPhone was even thought of. Apple you just added touch functionality, you are not the innovators of all that is smartphones. The Nokia layout is also very similar, and was also released long before the iPhone.

RE: Oh Boy!
By Moishe on 1/23/2009 11:37:03 AM , Rating: 2
Apple is also not the innovator to come up with multi-touch. They're basically doing what they always do... throw mud and bully their way through a market.

RE: Oh Boy!
By sliderule on 1/23/2009 11:54:32 AM , Rating: 2
I think Apple has some nerve. They're are as bad as anyone else about "stealing" ip.

Xerox PARC? Free Software?

RE: Oh Boy!
By Domicinator on 1/23/2009 10:34:33 PM , Rating: 5
Actually, I understood that the PARC project was presented to both Apple and Microsoft and then they BOTH used it. What's funny is that Apple continually tried to sue Microsoft throughout the 80s for using the window concept when Xerox is the company that essentially invented it.

Apple is pathetic. I can't believe more people don't call them out on their business practices. It boggles my mind that they have lasted this long without anyone blowing any whistles on them.

RE: Oh Boy!
By danrien on 1/26/2009 8:14:53 PM , Rating: 2
usually it takes having a monopoly to get whistles blown. take, for example, the computer market. similarly, the mp3 player market is really starting to look questionably uncompetitive in the general public's eyes. i don't see apple going on for too long with their practices and not getting sued for anti-competitive practices (if they continue being successful).

RE: Oh Boy!
By lagitup on 1/23/2009 12:02:02 PM , Rating: 5
What other obscure things will Apple patent in the name of anti-competitiveness?

Red delicious, granny smith, honeycrisp, and more...

RE: Oh Boy!
By SillyCon Volley on 1/23/2009 2:32:53 PM , Rating: 2
YEP!! They will use this litigation to raise the price of a MacBook Pro by $500. Just watch and see what happens..

RE: Oh Boy!
By androticus on 1/23/2009 5:20:32 PM , Rating: 2
Nothing like Apple's vague, silly patents to brighten up your day. What other obscure things will Apple patent in the name of anti-competitiveness?

Don't blame Apple for the existence of the patent system -- as long as this ridiculous system continues to exist, every company has a moral, legal, and financial responsibility to their shareholders to protect their own interests, and this includes patenting of technology. Without defensive patents, then other companies can usurp the technology and possibly even patent it themselves and turn around and sue Apple. Also, a company without a patent portfolio would be an easy target for offensive patent litigation by others with big portfolios -- as it stands now, big companies have so many patents they rarely launch patent attacks against each other, and when they do, they typically can only resolve them via broad patent cross licensing.

The patent system is on the whole ridiculous, and achieves the exact opposite of its stated intent. Rather than fostering innovation, it stifles it. Note that lawyers typically advise companies NOT to do patent searches on new things they develop, because the mere existence of the search can open them up to treble damage suits if they infringe! So here all these companies are mostly developing things they *hope* aren't covered by some patent; conversely, there are so many millions of patents now, that virtually any non-trivial device or system you can conceive would have to violate some patents. It is total insanity.

RE: Oh Boy!
By leexgx on 1/27/2009 10:29:57 PM , Rating: 2
maybe thay should sue google (G1 phone/market) or the better HTC touch HD thay use flip software as well as the Samsung Tocco does to

RE: Oh Boy!
By trisct on 1/29/2009 2:33:56 PM , Rating: 2
And that's why I have never bought anything from Apple, despite the Ipod's obvious appeal. Apple might have great designers and engineers, but the rest are a nasty bunch.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller
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