January 23, 2009

A Lawsuit From Apple? No.

Filed under: Musings — mikecane @ 7:10 pm


I didn’t jump in with a post about the current “Apple is going to pWN Palm” lawsuit furor because that kind of transitory item is not what I’m looking to do in this blog.

But now the (in)famous Daniel Eran Dilger has jumped in with Why Apple’s Tim Cook Did Not Threaten Palm Pre.

In his unique style — part strategic thinker, part scorn for non-Apple fans — he makes the case that everything is overblown (agreed), nothing more than desperate drama by cheap press hacks (agreed), and that the Palm Pre’s existence would be in Apple’s overall best interests.

The Palm Pre also distracts attention from Google’s Android, splintering the iPhone haters between two groups: those that like any alternative that might be “more open” than the iPhone, and those that flock to anything that might be “more shiny” than the iPhone. The Palm Pre divides up the Apple-haters in the smartphone market the same way Apple haters in the PC market are split between advocating Linux and advocating Vista. Split your competition, and both halves will begin competing with each other.

By allowing competitive platforms to flourish without legal threats, Apple will be able to contrast its technology against rivals on a level playing field. The company is much more comfortable in that position rather than taking on a single monopolist such as Microsoft, or a coalition of big industry partners such as Symbian or Android.

Having swapped emails a few years ago with Daniel, he knows that I can’t be shoved into an “Apple hater” (or iPhone hater) slot. It’s his typical brashness at work there.

I take issue with his characterizing the Pre as “vaporware,” however.

One point he’s overlooked in his analysis is that no one outside of Palm’s attorneys know what’s in Palm’s own patent portfolio. Palm did a lot of (failed) acquisitions in its short lifetime. Apple could be in violation of several of those patents. Palm could have been waiting for a moment like this, should Apple seriously file papers in court.

I doubt it’ll ever get to that. Before any legal action is initiated, Apple’s attorneys will call Palm’s attorneys, they’ll meet, review the paperwork, go back to Steve (or Tim), and a deal — if it is needed — will be worked out.

End of non-story.


  1. Only thing is – Apple, has more money than God right now. If they don’t defend their IP now, it will be worthless in the future.

    Any deal would involve Palm paying off Apple – and Palm doesn’t have the cash reserves – while Apple can keep this in court for years.

    Palm really screwed the pooch here.

    Comment by john — January 23, 2009 @ 8:39 pm | Reply

  2. >>>Palm really screwed the pooch here.

    I doubt that. What appears similar on the surface can in the eyes of the law and the U.S. Patent Office actually be considered very different.

    Plus, we have a new President (one with brains and who lives in the 21st Century) and I expect at some point we will see Patent reform on his To-Do List.

    We’ll see.

    Comment by mikecane — January 24, 2009 @ 11:28 am | Reply

  3. We’ll see Mike – I hope the Pre comes out unscathed from patent infringement because I’d like to see one – and possibly buy one.

    Also, it will force Apple to innovate.

    I’ve seen the patents Apple has on file – Palm might be looking to negotiate and get a license for multi-touch – by using their IP as leverage.

    However, the Apple Newton did predate every Palm device by several years – so it’s possible Apple has PDA-related patents which Palm is infringing upon.

    Comment by john — January 26, 2009 @ 7:23 am | Reply

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