Why Apple’s Steve Jobs turned Apple into a patent warrior

“Almost every major technology company is involved in ongoing patent battles, but the most significant player is Apple, industry executives say, because of its influence and the size of its claims: in August in California, the company won a $1 billion patent infringement judgment against Samsung,” Charles Duhigg and Steve Lohr report for The New York Times. “Former Apple employees say senior executives made a deliberate decision over the last decade, after Apple was a victim of patent attacks, to use patents as leverage against competitors to the iPhone, the company’s biggest source of profits.”

“Apple has filed multiple suits against three companies — HTC, Samsung and Motorola Mobility, now part of Google — that today are responsible for more than half of all smartphone sales in the United States,” Duhigg and Lohr report. “If Apple’s claims — which include ownership of minor elements like rounded square icons and of more fundamental smartphone technologies — prevail, it will most likely force competitors to overhaul how they design phones, industry experts say.”

MacDailyNews Take: Read “force competitors to overhaul how they design phones” as “force competitors to stop stealing Apple’s trade dress and patented intellectual property.”

Duhigg and Lohr report, “‘Apple has always stood for innovation,’ the company wrote in a statement in response to questions from The New York Times. ‘To protect our inventions, we have patented many of the new technologies in these groundbreaking and category-defining products. In the rare cases when we take legal action over a patent dispute, it’s only as a last resort. We think companies should dream up their own products rather than willfully copying ours, and in August a jury in California reached the same conclusion.'”

“The evolution of Apple into one of the industry’s patent warriors gained momentum, like many things within the company, with a terse order from its chief executive, Steven P. Jobs,” Duhigg and Lohr report. “It was 2006, and Apple was preparing to unveil the first iPhone… Mr. Jobs gathered his senior managers. While Apple had long been adept at filing patents, when it came to the new iPhone, ‘we’re going to patent it all,’ he declared, according to a former executive who, like other former employees, requested anonymity because of confidentiality agreements.”

Tons more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The article goes deeply into how the patent system is “broken.” Yadda, yadda, yadda. Yes, some changes are needed, but protection is also required. Obviously (see below). Steve sounds like he was past tired of getting ripped off – and rightfully so.

If you can’t see why Apple needs legal protection from theft, you really need to see an eye doctor.

Apple’s products came first, then Samsung’s:

Samsung Galaxy and Galaxy Tab Trade Dress Infringement

Here’s what Google’s Android looked like before and after Apple’s iPhone:

Google Android before and after Apple iPhone


  1. The day Samsung or someone else ends up cutting Apple a cheque is the day that this article should of been written. As of now there is a whole lot of smoke but not a heck of a lot of fire. As of now, Apple is simply dragging anyone with a pulse into Court but they are not benefiting from any judgement that has been completely crystallized.

    Enough about articles that quote “if” in every sentence.

    1. Please, a judgment rendered by a court stands unless overturned by a superior court. As of this moment, the superior court has not agreed to hear the appeal of the defendant. Do not forget that the superior court will only overturn the judgment of the lower court if an error in law has been made. The facts of the case cannot be disputed in a court of appeal.

      As things stand Samsung owes Apple $1.05 billion.

        1. If you had just been convicted of murder, would you say you we’re in trouble? Or would you say “appeal… maybe… if…”?

          Convicted in a court of law means a jury presented with the evidence said “guilty”.

          1. This is NOT a murder trial? WTF? My point is not debatable. When the Court speaks and renders a final judgement then we can debate. As of this moment in time and that is my point, the Court has yet to confirm that it will play along with the Jury’s decision. Keep in mind that the Court did not even see if fit to hear Apple’s request to ban Samsung devices until the first week of December and in the interim they lifted the ban on the GT 10.1 which in itself should tell you something about how much consideration the Jury’s verdict has been given. Think for a minute on how the Court now deals with imposing a Judgement on Samsung after it actually lifted the ban on the GT 10.1.

            Again… if’s and maybes.

            1. If your point is not debatable, why do you keep on debating it?

              P.S. The GT 10.1 did not infringe any iPad patents. It couldn’t infringe any iPhone patents because it isn’t a phone.

              Thus, no ban.

      1. BLN, think about the people who sued Exxon after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

        In the wake of the spill, thousands of people, including government employees, private citizens, and Exxon employees, worked to contain and clean up the oil. The cleanup continued until 1992, when the State of Alaska and the U.S. Coast Guard declared it complete. However, 18 years after the spill, it continues to negatively affect the ecosystem of Prince William Sound.

        Immediately after the spill, Exxon voluntarily paid $2.2 billion toward the cleanup. The State of Alaska sued Exxon for compensatory and punitive damages, and the United States indicted Exxon for violating the Clean Water Act and other statutes. As a result of this litigation, Exxon paid $1 billion in settlements to the Alaska and United States governments.

        Exxon also paid approximately $300 million in voluntary settlements with private parties. In addition, a large group of private parties-including Alaska landowners, Native American groups, and commercial fishermen-filed a suit against Exxon for economic harm beyond what Exxon had paid through its voluntary claims program. In 1994 a jury in an Alaska district court awarded the plaintiffs $287 million in compensatory damages. The court later reduced this amount to roughly $20 million to reflect released claims and settlements Exxon had reached during trial.

        The jury also found that both Captain Hazelwood and Exxon had been reckless, and awarded the plaintiffs punitive damages. The jury awarded $5,000 in punitive damages against Hazelwood and an unprecedented $5 billion against Exxon.

        The punitive damages amount were equal to a single year’s profit by Exxon at that time. To protect itself in case the judgment was affirmed, Exxon obtained a $4.8 billion credit line from J.P. Morgan & Co.

        Exxon appealed the ruling, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the original judge, Russel Holland, to reduce the punitive damages. On December 6, 2002, the judge announced that he had reduced the damages to $4 billion, which he concluded was justified by the facts of the case and was not grossly excessive. Exxon appealed again and the case returned to court to be considered in light of a recent Supreme Court ruling in a similar case, which caused Judge Holland to increase the punitive damages to $4.5 billion, plus interest.

        Exxon appealed 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on January 27, 2006, the damages award was cut to $2.5 billion on December 22, 2006.

        Exxon appealed again to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. In a decision issued June 25, 2008, The Court ruled in a 5-3 decision that the punitive damages awarded to the victims of the Exxon Valdez oil spill should be reduced from US$2.5 billion to US$500 million.

        In 2008! 19 years after the oil spill (and 14 years after the suit was filed) that check for punitive damages was finally cut. Gary is right, Samsung could appeal this decision for 14 more years, have the damages cut by 90%, and let time render the verdict meaningless. I too will believe that verdict has meaning when Samsung cuts Apple a check.

        1. Both you and Gary are legal amateurs who don’t know the difference between actual and punitive damages. Actual damages of $1.02B HAVE BEEN awarded by the jury. “The Court” as Gary calls it, is not separate from the jury, with the power to simply reject the verdict. The judge’s role now is to establish PUNITIVE damages, which may be up to 3 times the actual damages ($3.06B). Punitive damages are defined as that amount of money or other sanctions which will get the attention of the tortfeasor and deter them from repeating the offense. That punitive damage award is debatable and can be appealed as excessive.

          So the verdict reached by the jury is appealable, yes. And Samsung has appealed, and that is all that’s preventing Samsung from having to cut a check right now. The judge has not yet established a punitive damage amount. That will be appealed as well, I’m sure. So what? Apple doesn’t need the money. The point of this whole exercise is to deter Samsung and others from future infringement. I would argue that Apple has largely accomplished what they set out to do. Samsung may insist on saving face by continuing to try to produce their current products, but going forward, when Apple updates current devices or creates new ones, other companies will think twice about simply ripping of Apple’s designs and functionality.

  2. Why is Apple a patent warrior?
    Apple Computer (at the time) v Microsoft.

    Pepsi guy with the Ivy League MBA settled for pennies on the dollar and a cross licensing fee. Gates, Allen , Ballmer and Co’s fortunes are all sourced in that theft.

    Current day
    Google is Microsoft in the play. SameSong is a warmup.

    If Apple doesn’t sue Google they are crazy.

    Duplication is NOT innovation.™©

  3. We know at least these two things:

    1) The US Patent Office is a disaster area of technology comprehension incompetence and slug-worthy speed.

    2) Worthless, decaying and self-destructive biznizziz ripoff anything they can lay their parasitic hands on. That includes Google, Samsung, Motorola…

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