Apple Threatening Patent Lawsuits Over New Palm Pre
from the ugh dept
You may recall back when Apple first announced the iPhone, Steve Jobs proudly talked up how the company had over 200 patents on the various technologies in the phone. We wondered whether the company really needed those patents. After all, most of the “new” technologies in the iPhone weren’t really new at all. The compelling part of the iPhone was that it was put together in a nice (relatively inexpensive) package, and designed so well that people wanted it. The massive success of the iPhone since then has highlighted that fact. It had nothing to do with patents, and everything to do with designing a phone that many people wanted. And, of course, the patents did absolutely nothing to stop patent infringement lawsuits from being filed against the company. However, Apple had resisted using those particular patents against anyone else… but that may be changing.
On the latest earnings call, when asked about the new Palm Pre phone, which is getting fantastic reviews for actually doing a bunch of things better than the iPhone, Apple’s Tim Cook made it clear that the company was examining patent lawsuits against Palm:
We like competition–as long as our competitors don’t rip off our IP. And we’re going to go after anyone who does. I’m not talking about any particular company, but we are ready to suit up and go against anyone. We will not stand for having our IP ripped off, and we will use every weapon at our disposal….
In other words, Apple doesn’t really like competition — at least not competition that improves upon an idea before Apple is able to do so. Once again, we’re seeing the problem of patents and left wondering where the benefits are. Having a strong competitor to the iPhone in the market will drive everyone to more rapidly innovate and improve on the offering — and that’s only going to be good for everyone. More innovation will drive more revenue while making happier customers. Using patent lawsuits to take a strong competitor out of the market (or distract them with court time and costs) is about tearing down innovation, rather than encouraging it.