Greg's bite: Apple sues and gets sued again
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Greg's bite: Apple sues and gets sued again

By Greg Mills

Anyone who reads a lot about Apple and the tech world run into articles regarding lawsuits over various patents, trademarks and other legal issues between the major tech players. One of the boiler plate lines in standard incorporations papers is the line that the new corporations can "sue and be sued." As a legal "person" corporations can be sued for the things they do or fail to do, especially performing or not preforming contractual duties. Corporations can also own real property and "intellectual property".  

Intellectual property amounts to ideas that are protected by law, such as patented inventions, copyrights, trademarks and the like. To understand the current legal bluster from Apple, one needs to recall the history of the company and the long running and bitter battle Apple fought with Microsoft over the look and feel of the Mac OS, which Bill Gates famously "used" to create Windows 1.   

Despite a non-disclosure agreement he signed, Gate was "inspired" by the Mac OS look and feel and adapted and appropriated elements of the Mac into Windows. Steve Jobs was rightly furious. Gates was to create software to run on the new Mac OS, not copy its features for a new graphic user interface PC OS.  

Apple and Microsoft fought it out in court for years before settling out of court some years later.  Both had spent a bundle and were tired of fighting. Gates agreed to loan Apple some much needed money and Jobs threw in the towel and the legal battle was over. The lessons learned were that the legal side of the company was critical, and Apple beefed up its cadre of attorneys of all stripes and became known for busting any little infringement of anything Apple considers its own.

Yesterday I noticed a neat little USB hub, shown in online stories, that when hooked up to a hot USB cable lights up a white Apple logo in the middle of the device. Amazingly, the logo is exactly an Apple trademark protected logo. To expect that Apple also noticed, and its attorneys are beating a path to the door of the company that launched the device would be an understatement. Apple has become known for coming down like a ton of bricks on infringers.

Recently Apple lost a dispute in the International Trade Commission where Apple tried to stop HTC and Nokia from importing cell phones into the Untied States that Apple contends are knock-offs of its iPhone. Incredibly, while not really ruling on the merits of Apple's case, the economic disaster to HTC and Nokia were the issue. The ruling isn't binding in court, but it was an attempt by Apple to quash competition that was using Apple's technology. The courts are much less likely to overcome actual infringement over economic hardship issues claimed by the infringer.       

I saw a chart of the tech industry companies represented with blocks for each company and arrows that connected them together as to who is suing whom. It reminded me of a plate of spaghetti.  

Intellectual property suits fall into distinct categories.  

There is the patent troll suit. This is where someone filed a general patent that loosely covers a lot of ground and yet somehow was granted by the Patent Office. Keep in mind that just because the Patent Office grants a patent doesn't mean the patent is valid. When sued by someone trying to get a bite of the Apple unfairly, the first line of defense is for Apple to claim the patent isn't valid. Apple will claim the patent is obvious and thus not valid in court. That sometimes works, and a judge will agree and throw the case out and Apple wins. Sometimes the case is settled out of court as a nuisance abatement settlement and Apple figures a few bucks on settling is a bargain compared to spending a fortune in court.  

Sometimes the supposedly infringed patent is considered valid over Apple's objections, then Apple will claim they didn't infringe on it in the first place. This also sometimes works. Apple will try to show that the intent of the patent is to protect something else and shouldn't apply to the situation being contested. That is often the case, and if the court narrowly construes the invention, that works. Other times the wildly broad claims of an irrelevant patent are upheld and Apple can either appeal or pay up. Apple can certainly appeal with 60 billion dollars in the bank.  

Sometimes Apple sues when they discover other companies have released products that infringe on Apple technology. A federal lawsuit is then filed, and the infringer can stop selling the device or face Apple in Federal Court ... someday, a few years and a few hundred thousand dollars of legal fees down the line.

Sometimes Apple was aware or unaware of a valid patent they needed to infringe, and they go ahead and use the patented concept. In this case Apple might be more willing to settle if they think they are unlikely to beat the case in court. The reasonableness of the settlement then becomes the issue.

As I have noted in this space previously, the Federal patent infringement lawsuits Apple dropped on the desk of all the companies that are manufacturing Android handsets are critical and will either kill Android or allow that platform to continue with modifications of features that are too close to Apple's iPhone and iPad.   

The touch screen interface Apple introduced is worth a bundle, and there are many patents covering every aspect of that interface. When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone he stated that Apple covered every aspect of the iPhone and would vigorously defend their invention in court.  Those Android handset law suits are the first salvo in what will become a major legal battle over ownership of the smartphone industry.  

Apple, Google, RIM, Nokia and others are very interested in obtaining a portfolio of patented owned by Nortel. That portfolio consists of roughly 1,000 patents owned by Nortel Networks, who went bankrupt. The cell phone patents up for auction are like a hand full of aces in a poker game. In Federal court holding aces is very helpful.

Google has the most to gain from owning the Nortel patents, since it has far fewer cell phone patents than the other major players. Apple has a lot more cash in the bank and holding all those additional patents may be worth the money as killing Android is the key to owning the smartphone market Apple pioneered with iPhone.  

Apple has the technology, parts supply, R&D, market, software and momentum to own the touch screen smartphone and tablet market. Time will tell how well all this works out for Apple. The legal battle over the Android platform intellectual property is going to define smart phones and tablet computers for years to come.  Remember this main point: if Apple can kill Android off, the rest of the industry isn't anything to worry about.  

That's Greg's Bite for today.

(Greg Mills is currently a graphic and Faux Wall Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. Greg is an Extra Class Ham Radio Operator, AB6SF, iOS developer and web site designer. He's also working on a solar energy startup using a patent pending process for turning waste dual pane glass window units into thermal solar panels used to heat water see: www.CottageIndustySolar.com Married, with one daughter, Greg writes for intellectual property web sites and on Mac/Tech related issues. See Greg's art web site at http://www.gregmills.info He can be emailed at gregmills@mac.com )

 
AAPL
$104.75
Apple Inc.
+1.76
MSFT
$44.97
Microsoft Corpora
+0.59
GOOG
$543.81
Google Inc.
+11.10

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Art Text 2.4.8 - Create high quality hea...
Art Text is an OS X application for creating high quality textual graphics, headings, logos, icons, Web site elements, and buttons. Thanks to multi-layer support, creating complex graphics is no... Read more
Live Interior 3D Pro 2.9.6 - Powerful an...
Live Interior 3D Pro is a powerful yet very intuitive interior designing application. View Video Tutorials It has every feature of Live Interior 3D Standard, plus some exclusive ones: Create multi... Read more
The Hit List 1.1.7 - Advanced reminder a...
The Hit List manages the daily chaos of your modern life. It's easy to learn - it's as easy as making lists. And it's powerful enough to let you plan, then forget, then act when the time is right.... Read more
jAlbum Pro 12.2.4 - Organize your digita...
jAlbum Pro has all the features you love in jAlbum, but comes with a commercial license. With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code!... Read more
jAlbum 12.2.4 - Create custom photo gall...
With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly, with pro results Simply drag and drop photos into groups, choose a design... Read more
ExpanDrive 4.1.7 - Access remote files o...
ExpanDrive builds cloud storage in every application, acts just like a USB drive plugged into your Mac. With ExpanDrive, you can securely access any remote file server directly from the Finder or... Read more
OmniOutliner Pro 4.1.3 - Pro version of...
OmniOutliner Pro is a flexible program for creating, collecting, and organizing information. Give your creativity a kick start by using an application that's actually designed to help you think. It'... Read more
Evernote 5.6.2 - Create searchable notes...
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from... Read more
OmniOutliner 4.1.3 - Organize your ideas...
OmniOutliner is a flexible program for creating, collecting, and organizing information. Give your creativity a kick start by using an application that's actually designed to help you think. It's... Read more
BBEdit 11.0 - Powerful text and HTML edi...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Puzzle to the Center of the Earth Review
Puzzle to the Center of the Earth Review By Campbell Bird on October 23rd, 2014 Our Rating: :: SPELUNKING PUZZLESUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Do some puzzles to make some platforms in this smart and fun free-to-play... | Read more »
Sleep Attack TD Review
Sleep Attack TD Review By Jennifer Allen on October 23rd, 2014 Our Rating: :: A TRUE TWISTUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Sleep Attack TD is a tower defense game with a difference – you can rotate the layout – and it’s... | Read more »
Mecanic (Education)
Mecanic 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Plates, screws, wheels ... Everything you need to achieve whatever you want... MECHANICWith 'MECANIC' kids will have fun... | Read more »
Earn Your Master Camper Badge in Camp Po...
Earn Your Master Camper Badge in Camp Pokemon Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 23rd, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Garruk Gets His Revenge in a New Magic 2...
Garruk Gets His Revenge in a New Magic 2015 Expansion, Coming This November Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 23rd, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Sentinels of the Multiverse Review
Sentinels of the Multiverse Review By Rob Thomas on October 23rd, 2014 Our Rating: :: SENTINELS ASSEMBLEiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Greater Than Games’ tabletop classic, Sentinels of the Multiverse swoops in to save the... | Read more »
Build Your Own Fantasy Football Dynasty...
Build Your Own Fantasy Football Dynasty with Draft Day Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 23rd, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Cars: Fast as Lightning – Tips, Tricks,...
Hey there, Stickers: Want to know all about how impressed we were with Radiator Springs? Check out our Cars: Fast as Lightning review! Cars: Fast as Lightning is a cute and fun app that combines racing and town-building with the charisma and... | Read more »
Jam Messenger Review
Jam Messenger Review By Jennifer Allen on October 23rd, 2014 Our Rating: :: SIMPLE MESSAGINGiPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad Want a very quick way to send push-based messages? Jam Messenger is basic... | Read more »
Felllice (Games)
Felllice 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: EXCLUSIVE PRICE DROP! 50% OFF FOR A LIMITED TIME! EAT EAT EAT AND GROW ! | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Save up to $125 on Retina MacBook Pros
B&H Photo has the new 2014 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $125 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They’ll also include free copies of Parallels... Read more
Apple refurbished Time Capsules available sta...
The Apple Store has certified refurbished Time Capsules available for up to $60 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each Time Capsule, and shipping is free: - 2TB Time Capsule: $255... Read more
Textilus New Word, Notes and PDF Processor fo...
Textilus is new word-crunching, notes, and PDF processor designed exclusively for the iPad. I haven’t had time to thoroughly check it out yet, but it looks great and early reviews are positive.... Read more
WD My Passport Pro Bus-Powered Thunderbolt RA...
WD’s My Passport Pro RAID solution is powered by an integrated Thunderbolt cable for true portability and speeds as high as 233 MB/s. HighlightsOverviewSpecifications Transfer, Back Up And Edit In... Read more
Save with Best Buy’s College Student Deals
Take an additional $50 off all MacBooks and iMacs at Best Buy Online with their College Students Deals Savings, valid through November 1st. Anyone with a valid .EDU email address can take advantage... Read more
iPad Air 2 & iPad mini 3 Best Tablets Yet...
The new iPads turned out to be pretty much everything I’d been hoping for and more than I’d expected.”More” particularly in terms of a drinking-from-a-firehose choice of models and configurations,... Read more
Drafts 4 Reinvents iOS Productivity App
N Richland Hills, Texas based Agile Tortoise has announced the release of Drafts 4 for iPhone and iPad. Drafts is a quick capture note taking app with flexible output actions. Drafts 4 scales from... Read more
AT&T accepting preorders for new iPads fo...
AT&T Wireless is accepting preorders for the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, cellular models, for $100 off MSRP with a 2-year service agreement: - 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi + Cellular: $529.99 - 64GB... Read more
Apple offering refurbished Mac Pros for up to...
The Apple Store is offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2013 Mac Pros for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The... Read more
Select MacBook Airs $100 off MSRP, free shipp...
B&H Photo has 2014 a couple of MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They also include free copies of Parallels Desktop and LoJack for... Read more

Jobs Board

Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…customers purchase our products, you're the one who helps them get more out of their new Apple technology. Your day in the Apple Store is filled with a range of Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.