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Advisory firms say Apple should look into other avenues and settlements in the near future to avoid possibly having to depend on other companies' technology at some point

After a long year of fighting mobile patent wars with the likes of Samsung, HTC and Motorola, some are suggesting that Apple seek a different approach and start finding some common ground with the Android-based phone makers for the sake of its shareholders and ultimately its future.

Apple spent much of 2011 suing Android users for infringement, claiming that smartphone and tablet makers like Samsung were copying Apple's design and proprietary software. Apple was successful in a few instances, such as the ban on Samsung's Galaxy 10.1 tablet in both Australia and Germany, but later on, a higher Australian court overturned the previous ruling and a German judge made it clear that he wouldn't likely maintain the import ban on the tablet.

Apple's use of patent wars to thwart competitors is working for now, since it's costing rivals millions of dollars and poses as a distraction. Some say Apple shouldn't have to seek any sort of alliance with Android-based phone makers, such as licensing agreements, because it's the "leader."

"Apple has the patents, the money and the expertise to go to war," said Christopher Marlett, chairman and co-founder of investment bank MDB Capital Group. "I just don't see why Apple would seek détente, since they're the clear leader. Until they're hit with an injunction by Google or Samsung, they don't need to get serious about licensing."

However, Kevin Rivette, a managing partner at intellectual property advisory firm 3LP Advisors LLC, said that this approach probably isn't the best way to go. According to Rivette, Apple should look into other avenues and settlements in the near future to avoid possibly having to depend on other companies' technology at some point.

"A scorched-Earth strategy is bad news because it doesn't optimize the value of their patents -- because people will get around them," said Rivette. "It's like a dam. Using their patents to keep rivals out of the market is like putting rocks in a stream. The stream is going to find a way around. Wouldn't it be better to direct where the water goes?

"If I'm Apple, I want divided royalties [from Android licensees]."

Some suggestions for Apple include going after out-of-court settlements while dropping patent claims if Android-based phone makers agree not to use Apple technology for six months or even a year. Later, Apple could cut the Android users a deal such as offering Samsung more access to certain Apple technologies.

Also, Apple could attack new competitors in the market, such as Amazon with its Kindle Fire tablet, by allowing competitors like Samsung to use its proprietary iTunes service. This could boost Samsung's sales, make the company more dependent on Apple instead of Google, and thwart Amazon all at the same time.

While it's unlikely that Apple will make such a move anytime soon (if at all), some shareholders and analysts believe that stepping out of the tightly-bound proprietary model would help Apple gain access to rivals' technology while sharing its own under certain conditions. This new method could ensure a longer lifespan for the company's popular devices and software. With $81 billion in cash and investments already, it couldn't hurt the tech giant to branch out a bit.

Sources: The Washington Post, Bloomberg

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RE: They better quit it
By Tony Swash on 12/29/2011 2:36:35 PM , Rating: -1
The type, extent, topics and number of Apple patents are no different than the average for any of the large tech companies, it's just that Apple's get more publicity. The only major tech player with significantly fewer than average patents are Google which reflects their corporate culture and business approach which is that other people's intellectual property has no value and should be freely available (bundled with Google's data gathering and advertising services of course). Hence many of the legal woes of Google and it's proxies.

RE: They better quit it
By spaced_ on 12/30/2011 7:13:52 PM , Rating: 1
Reflects the age of the company more than anything.

If you haven't noticed, they're buying up big in IP to compensate. Most of the legal offense is coming from Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, etc. All of which are much older companies.

One of the best forms of defense is attack. So don't be surprised if Google comes firing back, particularly with the Motorola acquisition. Apple might just find themselves on the receiving end of far less dubious patent infringement claims if they keep up what they're doing.

RE: They better quit it
By jRaskell on 1/3/2012 10:06:59 AM , Rating: 1
Hence many of the legal woes of Google and it's proxies.

And what are some of these woes you refer to? As far as I can tell, Apple is losing the vast majority of their lawsuits. The only woes are the legal costs being incurred defending against Apple's litigious zeal, which is likely Apple's real goal. Sue their competition into bankruptcy as opposed to competing with them in the market. The only problem there is it's one versus many, so while Apple may have very deep pockets, those pockets aren't deep enough to put ALL their competition out of business.

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer

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