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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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Subtlely changing history
By drycrust3 on 12/29/2011 3:16:33 PM , Rating: 4
if Android-based phone makers agree not to use Apple technology for six months or even a year

See the problem with this statement? The problem is the "Apple technology" bit. For example, in the famous "menu animation" patent, the words "menu animation" don't appear anywhere within the patent, and when you ask whereabouts exactly is it mentioned within the 17 or so pages, no one can give you an answer.
So while we have Apple claiming "menu animation" is "Apple technology", we find scant evidence within the said patent of their claim. In fact, when you read the patent the one thing you don't get is the idea they had actually thought about "menu animation" when they wrote the patent. Thus, one easy conclusion one could jump to would be that Apple are claiming they invented "menu animation" because they want everyone to think they did, not because they really did.
As a general rule, if you invent something, then you want everyone to know it, so you make it pretty obvious you did actually invent this whatever, but with the "menu animation" patent the exact opposite seems to be the case, it isn't obvious, and when you ask exactly whereabouts it is mentioned and no one seems to know, then you start to wonder if their claim is actually credible.
And that is exactly the danger with the idea of "Apple technology", because it assumes every aspect of something, e.g. the smartphone or the tablet, was invented by Apple, when it wasn't. By reading their patents and looking at the other patents mentioned in them, you realise that most of a smartphone or tablet is covered by patents owned by other people.
By using expressions like "Apple technology" you are giving credit to Apple for inventing something which they didn't invent, and then it isn't long before people start to believe this. The danger of that is you make Samsung and others, who are having to fight to keep their products on the market, sound like criminals, when in fact the truth is less clear cut. Should Samsung have to stop selling anything with a touch sensitive screen simply because Apple don't like it? As silly as that sounds, what other conclusion can one come to when we see Apple taking people to court for doing something that isn't obviously mentioned in some patent.
By giving credit to Apple for inventing things they didn't invent, then you give legitimacy to their actions of trying to stop the sale of competing products simply because they are competing products, and on the basis that power corrupts, then it won't be long before they are claiming non-competing products are their inventions as well. In 10 years time, when the cost of touchscreens and the like is very low, do we want Apple taking manufacturers to court for having a touch screen on some product like a washing machine or a cake mixer or a light switch or the back of a book?

RE: Subtlely changing history
By Peter898 on 12/29/2011 3:44:23 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, but menu animation is not 'a technology' and
the fact that a patent was even granted for this non-invention
is the real problem here .
I'm wondering how much of a products price goes to paying
'patent'-lawyers these days ..

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