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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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What about the rest?
By Cerberus90 on 1/23/2009 9:52:20 AM , Rating: 2
What about the rest of the millions of MP3 players that look like every other iPod?

I'm sure if I look the just the Argos catalogue, theres about 5 that look just like a Nano.

Can't apple realise that if they make something that sells well, then others will try and simulate it.

I'm sure theres loads of other examples that are basically the same as this, so hopefully, if apple do take action, they'll lose.

RE: What about the rest?
By Master Kenobi on 1/23/2009 9:56:52 AM , Rating: 1
Apple learned the hard way when They stole from Xerox and Microsoft in turned stole from them. These days Apple trolls the patent space agressively.

RE: What about the rest?
By omnicronx on 1/23/2009 10:42:06 AM , Rating: 4
Xerox PARC was a thinktank, and Jobs was invited to preview their GUI in exchange for Apple stock. Gates got a preview at PARC before the first Apple OS went into development. In otherwords, aside from the idea of having a GUI, neither company really stole anything, and the entire speil about MS stealing from Apple is pretty far from the truth. Yes Gates worked with Apple AFTER previewing the PARC's OS (Apple and MS actually worked together on development from 81-84), but he did not steal the idea of the GUI from Apple.

RE: What about the rest?
By jonarosen on 1/23/2009 10:28:20 AM , Rating: 2

Not to mention that, out side of original Windows copying straight from Mac... Apple has actually not truly ORIGINATED many things. Apple did NOT invent MP3 players, they just had the biggest promoting bloc of all companies to make sure theirs was the most obvious.

The MP3 player started back with the Rio or Nomad, about 5-10 years before the iPod ever existed. However, it was only known by the computer-geek who kept up with companies like Creative (Aka: Makers of SoundBlaster audio-cards and the like)

Another example, is that as someone else stated, the iPhone actually is just a step up from what Palm has been doing for a long while. Basically making a Palm-phone. I have played games, listened to MP3's, watched movies and MANY other things that the iPhone (AKA Apple in this case.. again) COPIES from other places, repackages and goes 'Hey, look what we came up with'... Sorry, BULLS#!T.. .you didn't come up with anything other than putting it into a phone, and making some cutesy ways to move the screen and apps around.

If Apple tries to sue, I hope they get their collective a$$es handed to them.

RE: What about the rest?
By vapore0n on 1/23/09, Rating: -1
RE: What about the rest?
By RamarC on 1/23/2009 10:35:27 AM , Rating: 2
remember that creative and apple butted heads over mp3 navigation and apple wound up settling by paying creative $100M. so, the sword cuts both ways.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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