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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....
By nolisi on 12/29/2011 2:41:48 PM , Rating: 3
The answer for companies to counter Apple's patent war is pretty straightforward, create original designs of their own and patent them. Almost no company appears capable of rising to that challenge.

You obviously haven't owned an Android device, otherwise you'd note that in almost every way the UI is different and varied amongst the Android manufacturers and different from Apple's UI itself.

Differences start at the visual level- almost all Android devices have physical buttons + a mouselike touch control pad, and go down to the feature level such as OTA updates and voice command that Google developed years ago (oh yeah, iOS 5 just got that- say Apple isn't stealing ideas from Android). Most devices include things like physical keyboards and memory expansion- items that Apple doesn't seem capable of implementing in a user friendly manner as the Android makers have.

This is why Apple has to sue over very small specific things like bounce scrolling and vague patents such as "minimalist designs", and most of their lawsuits see a vast majority of their claims thrown out before they get a chance to argue them.

Android provides a completely different (and superior, in my opinion)experience than iOS. I currently own and actively use both an iOS 5 device as well as a Gingerbread (2.3) device in non-development capacities.

Apples competitors have come up with vastly differentiated and original products. Apple likes to pretend that they came up with the idea of a smart phone and want every other phone to be banned as a result, claiming that others are copying Apple when the devices are clearly different, and are, in most cases, better.

RE: They....
By Tony Swash on 12/29/11, Rating: -1
"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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