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Phonemaker plays both a bully and a victim amid countless lawsuits

If some tech readers tire of constantly seeing Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) name in the news regarding patent lawsuits, understand that those stories are hardly coincidence or the product of a newsperson's overactive imagination.  Apple simply is in a swirling, whirling, ever-growing maelstrom of lawsuits, some filed by it and others filed against it.

I. Some of Them Want to Abuse You...

According to consulting firm Kanzatec IP Group, 60 percent of active lawsuits in the mobile industry involve Apple.

These lawsuits generally fall into two categories.  The first category is suits filed against Apple by smaller intellectual property holders, such as Elan Microelectronics Inc. (TPE:2458) who successfully sued Apple for "stealing" its multi-touch technology.

As the world's most profitable company Apple is a juicy target for small IP holders.  And Apple's large all-inclusive hardware-software-sales ecosystem offers many levels to hunt for infringements.  
Apple patent lawsuit
A graphic by Kanzatec depicting who is suing who. [Image Source: Kanzatec]

Feisal Mosleh, a senior vice president at Kanzatec, comments, "I would speculate that Apple will continue to be at the center of the litigation map of large mobile IT companies for as long as it maintains its dominant place in the market"

II. ...Some of Them Want to be Abused

On the other hand, Apple has also been a student of these firms and take a page from their playbook, initiating suits with rivals.  When Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android moved into the passing lane, late Apple CEO Steve Jobs' feelings on the OS changed from it being a tolerable nuisance to being an intolerable "thief".

Despite his firm borrowing multiple innovations from Android -- true multi-tasking, notifications, copy and paste, etc. (innovations that were present in Windows Mobile, of course, long before that even). -- Mr. Jobs claimed that Android phonemakers were "stealing" his company's intellectual property.

Apple initiated a suit against top rival Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) in April 2011, after first suing smaller Android phonemaker HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) in March 2010.  Both companies have filed countersuits against Apple in several regions, claiming Apple stole their intellectual property.

Apple has also looked to bully now bankrupt Eastman Kodak Corp., the company that invented the digital camera.  Apple tried to stop a sale of the bankrupt firm's intellectual property.

Steve Jobs
Steven P. Jobs' dying wish of "thermonuclear war" with Android has been fulfilled.

Google has fought back against Apple, initiating a preemptive strike with subsidiary Motorola Mobility in Oct. 2010.  That barrage was countered by Apple, which sued Motorola the same month.  Those lawsuits appear to be dead in the U.S., following a landmark ruling by a veteran Chicago-area federal judge.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple also has been battered by lawsuits from Nokia Oyj. (HEX:NOK1V).  The veteran Finnish phonemaker successfully forced Apple into one licensing settlement and is actively pursuing a new infringement lawsuit.

Source: Bloomberg



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RE: Inexcusible
By michael2k on 7/11/2012 4:30:04 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with your take on patents, but disagree with your take on innovation, and the real problem is that because the CEOs of RIM, Palm, Nokia, Sony, and Microsoft agreed with you, they all failed to keep up with Apple.

I wrote this elsewhere comparing RIM to Apple, but a very similar analysis could be performed with Nokia and Apple, Sony and Apple, and Microsoft and Apple:

2007's "early innovation" was a large touch screen (precluded by RIM's dedication to a hard keyboard, taking up previous space otherwise available to a battery and display) coupled with a capable web browser (also unnecessary on a small screen) that wound up driving data usage even in the absence of LTE, and even 3G. Since one of RIM's early founding tenets was in fact being thrifty with data, there was also a lack of desire to increase data usage.

2008's "early innovation" was the app store which further increased the data usage of the device. While RIM unveiled the Storm, it's relatively poor browser, lack of wifi, and very limited built in storage all posed problems, especially when the App World would be unveiled in the next year.

2009's "early innovation" was a much faster CPU and GPU to further increase a user's investment/interaction with the device, and along the way also drive additional data usage; the Storm 2 would use a much slower ARMv6 CPU compared to the iPhone 3GS ARMv7. RIM failed to release a new Storm, instead releasing the Torch in 2010!

2010's "early innovation" was a dramatically improved camera, front facing camera, much higher resolution screen and limited form of multi-tasking which facilitated additional apps while preserving battery life. Yes, curtailing functionality was a feature. The front facing camera was coupled with FaceTime, but the App Store allowed for third party apps to do video conferencing over 3G, which also increased data usage. At least the Torch's CPU finally matched that of the 3GS released a year prior.

2011's "early innovation" was an even more powerful CPU/GPU (two cores, now!), voice, and even faster 3G networking (all of which continue to increase data usage). RIM responded with last year's CPU at 2x clock, flash storage finally increased to 8gb, or if you stuck with 4gb, a much higher resolution screen on the BlackBerry Torch 9850


RE: Inexcusible
By dark matter on 7/12/2012 2:25:42 AM , Rating: 2
They didn't fail to keep up with Apple. Apple simply took all the patents and ideas from those companies, either claimed them for itself, or simply used the essential technology without paying (claiming it was fair to pay).

It's worth remembering that Apple had never been in the phone industry before the iPhone. When it released that, it did so on the shoulders of all those before it.

But then had the cheek to turn round to everyone in the industry and start whaaaaing about how people should stop copying it.


RE: Inexcusible
By testerguy on 7/12/2012 6:40:01 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
They didn't fail to keep up with Apple.


Taking the tablet and mobile industry as a whole, everybody has most definitely failed to keep up with Apple.

quote:
Apple simply took all the patents and ideas from those companies, either claimed them for itself, or simply used the essential technology without paying (claiming it was fair to pay).


What a ridiculous sentence. You can't just 'take' a patent and say 'I'm 'avvin that'.... you can only patent an idea if there is a) No prior art (in the eyes of the law) and b) Nobody else has patented it.

As for using the 'essential technology without paying' - Apple has offered Motorola FRAND rates - Motorola demanded 'above Frand rates' - in their own words - and thus the judge threw the case out and not Motorola is under investigation for FRAND abuse.

quote:
It's worth remembering that Apple had never been in the phone industry before the iPhone. When it released that, it did so on the shoulders of all those before it.


Another ridiculous sentence. It is of no relevance whatsoever to how innovative Apple is when they entered the market. If anything, the fact that the iPhone was their first entrance into the market and went on to dominate the market for years proves just how much they brought to the table. Vague comments with absolutely no meaning such as 'on the shoulders of all those before it' just don't make any point at all. Every single person, company, technology, ever, has also been 'on the shoulders of all those before it' - that just means nothing.

Apple disrupted the smartphone market. Clearly and undeniably. It's also clear that they defined the smartphone market going forward and that lots of other manufacturers, and Android, have attempted (successfully) to recreate that.

The iPhone was blatantly a new, different, innovative phone. It's hard to say the same about the Samsung Galaxy, or any HTC or Motorola smartphone out since. I personally don't mind that other manufacturers 'copy' the blueprint and add more competition, I think it's good for consumers, but don't blind yourself to the reality that pretty much every modern smartphone takes heavy inspiration from the original iPhone.


RE: Inexcusible
By michael2k on 7/12/2012 12:07:38 PM , Rating: 2
You're claiming RIM, Nokia, Palm, and Microsoft didn't fail to keep up?

Do you use any of those products?

The closest competitor to "keeping up" with Apple circa 2007 was the Blackberry Storm or HTC Dream(Android) circa 2008; everyone else was two years late like Palm Pre, Nokia X6, HTC HD2(Windows), circa 2009.

Even then the HTC Dream lacked multitouch while the Storm lacked wifi, and no one else had an app store except Android in 2008.

Of course by 2010 everyone except Google had failed to keep up with Apple, and by 2011 Google had surpassed Apple (in market share at least).


"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis














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