Apple may go ‘nuclear’ on Palm over iPhone’s patented features

“Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, pledged in January to go after companies that copy the iPhone’s patented features. Apple won its latest patent Jan. 20 for so-called multitouch technology, which lets people work the iPhone by touching the screen with two fingers and making swiping motions,” Connie Guglielmo and Susan Decker report for Bloomberg.

“Apple’s stance is an effort to threaten the new touch- screen Pre phone, the linchpin to Palm Inc.’s comeback plan, said Morgan Chu, a patent lawyer at Irell & Manella in Los Angeles. Cook’s comments don’t mean Apple will actually seek a court order to stop the Pre, which is due for release in the next few months. Instead, the company may try to intimidate Palm and other rivals into working around its patents, forcing them to cut features or delay production,” Guglielmo and Decker report. “‘The best deterrent of a nuclear arsenal is not to use it,’ Chu said in an interview. ‘If I believe there is a high probability of getting sued by going down a specific path, I may go down a different path.'”

“Apple is turning the iPhone into its third main business, alongside the Macintosh computer and iPod. The company surpassed a goal of selling 10 million iPhones in 2008, and may sell 28 million units this year, according to Piper Jaffray & Co,” Guglielmo and Decker report. “‘A lot of people are looking at that longingly, and not just Palm,’ said Robert Yoches, a patent lawyer at Finnegan Henderson in Washington, referring to the iPhone’s sales. ‘Don’t be surprised if 2009 has a lot of suits both by and against Apple.'”

“Eschewing the styluses used with other touch screens, Jobs sought a pointing device for the iPhone that was familiar, easy to use and not easily lost: fingers,” Guglielmo and Decker report. “We have invented a new technology called multitouch, which is phenomenal,’ Apple CEO Steve Jobs said after unveiling the iPhone in 2007, describing the input system as ‘magic.’ ‘And boy, have we patented it.'”

“Palm’s Pre, which has a slide-out keyboard in addition to its multitouch screen, was developed under the leadership of Chairman Jonathan Rubinstein. He ran the iPod business at Apple before joining Palm in 2007,” Guglielmo and Decker report. “It would be expensive and difficult for Palm to make any changes to the Pre’s design or software now, said Matt Thornton, an analyst at Avian Securities in Boston. He has a neutral rating on Palm’s shares. ‘There is a lot riding on this for Palm, and a legal dogfight could cost in the millions,’ Thornton said.”

More in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: When you sit around doing nothing for years, like Palm (and the rest of the mobile device makers), you pay the price when a company like Apple comes in with innovative, revolutionary ideas. You don’t get to copy and profit from Apple’s hard work. Palm deserves to fail.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Carl H.” for the heads up.]

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.