Print 74 comment(s) - last by trisct.. on Jan 29 at 2:33 PM

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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By ltcommanderdata on 1/23/2009 10:50:53 AM , Rating: 0
Reading some of the comments it seems many people are missing the point. People make it sound like Apple has patented the whole iPhone in it's entirety or patented the broad concept of a touchscreen or the integration of phone/mp3 player/other functionality in one device. That is not the case, and that wouldn't hold up anyways.

What Apple has patented are things related to the UI and more specifically Multitouch. This is in terms of their physical hardware implementation using an Indium tin oxide grid as well as specific gestures that they came up with that correspond with functionality. That doesn't seem unreasonable.

RE: Patents are for the UI and Multitouch/Gestures
By zombiexl on 1/23/2009 11:01:05 AM , Rating: 2
But didnt MS demonstrate multi-touch before the iPhone? Sure it wasnt on a pocket PC or phone, but still..

Also the gestures thing is just as retarded as a patent on sign language. Most PDA's i've used can understant the original Palm swipes that translated to letters. I dont remember (i may be wrong) palm suing over this.

RE: Patents are for the UI and Multitouch/Gestures
By Doormat on 1/23/09, Rating: -1
By omnicronx on 1/23/2009 12:02:21 PM , Rating: 4
You are only off by 25 years, but ok.. Multitouch is not an Apple invention, it was developed at UofT(university of toronto)/Bell Labs 25 years ago.

Apple bought out Fingerworks in 2005, who happened to be on of the most advanced companies in the field.

This being said, Fingerworks did not own the patents in which their technology is based upon.

As for the bandwagon you speak of, Microsoft had been developing and using the idea with their "Microsoft Surface" Project, long before the iPhone was even thought of.

Yes Apple brought multitouch to mainstream, but I would hardly call it jumping on the Apple Multitouch bandwagon.

By crystal clear on 1/24/2009 5:57:02 AM , Rating: 3
wish to add something more to your comment-

Microsoft recently invested in an Israeli start up N-trig-

N-trig is the only industry provider to offer a combined pen, touch and multi-touch solution, having overcome the technological hurdles of combining the two seamlessly in a single device. DuoSense is an intelligent digitizer, fully compatible with Microsoft natural input standards. N-trig's DuoSense digitizers are are easily integratable, support any type of LCD, keep devices slim, light and bright, can support numerous applications, and can be implemented in a broad range of products ranging from small notebooks to large LCDs.

“With the introduction of multi-touch in Windows 7, integrated with N-trig’s DuoSense technology, our customers will have a new and natural way to interact with their PCs,” said Ian LeGrow, Group Program Manager for Windows Client at Microsoft Corp. “By simulating the way people write and touch naturally, N-trig is helping to make it easier to navigate your PC and enable a new class of Windows experiences.”

N-trig’s touch technology is currently deployed in Dell’s Latitude XT, and was recently launched on HP’s TouchSmart tx2. The company also plans to announce more OEM design wins in the coming year, representing industry standardization of the N-trig hardware in the marketplace and further breaking down the barriers between the user and their computer.

By omnicronx on 1/23/2009 11:46:15 AM , Rating: 2
Apple didnt event multitouch either. Perhaps different aspects of multitouch such as specific gestures, but thats about it. The concerning the UI, the only thing I can think of is the status bar of icons at the bottom, which they will have a very hard time trying to prove, as it definitely resembles previous interfaces on the PC. All anyone has to do is say that because its a smartphone OS, it is not new technology, it is just PC technology displayed on a smaller screen.

By foolsgambit11 on 1/23/2009 3:10:56 PM , Rating: 2
It also resembles the interface on previous Palm devices.

"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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