Posted by Greg Mills
The dizzy array of legal spats that Apple is in require a cadre of top legal minds. Apple has a lot of attorneys in house, but has been known to hire outside lawyers in the past. The Vice President for Legal Affairs, Chip Lutton Jr. is rumored to be leaving Apple for unknown reasons. A well seasoned replacement has been named, B. J. Watrous was hired away from HP’s Intellectual Property Department.
One can assume Chip Lutton needs a very long vacation in some quiet place. With a rather “high strung” CEO on your tail, constantly prodding you to get action on the pressing legal problems with competitors that Apple is facing, it must be very stressful. I can imagine standing on the red carpet before Steve Jobs explaining that pushing cases though the Federal Courts is like trying to roll large boulders up a hill.
Federal Court is sort of like a glacier, they move very slowly but grind everything in their path into fine dust. You certainly want to be on the right side of an issue before the Federal Courts.
Patents take way too long to be issued and forever to be enforced in Federal Court. When you get a patent, it really only amounts to a license to sue someone who uses your protected new idea. The notion of R&D paying off for innovative companies like Apple relies upon the general idea that inventions can be protected and new technology monopolized for the life of the patent. Making that all happen in the fast moving mobile computing market is certainly a challenge.
Engineers and lawyers are the two pillars of Apple’s success. Hopefully, Mr. Watrous will have some success stopping the Android platform from stealing Apple blind.