by Carlo Longino

Filed Under:
iphone, multi-touch, patents, pre

apple, palm

Analyst Says What We Already Knew: Apple's Multi-Touch Patent Fight Won't Help Its Business

from the in-case-you-didn't-get-it-yet dept

After Palm showed off its new Pre smartphone, including the device's multitouch interface, at the Consumer Electronics Show last month, Apple made some threatening noises about how it would go after anybody who "ripped off" its intellectual property. As always, we didn't see how this would benefit anybody in the marketplace, since competition pays benefits to consumers, and drives participants, even Apple, to continually innovate and improve their products. Now, a wireless industry analyst has called Apple's threats into question. He makes the point that a long, drawn out IP fight won't help Apple's business in the long run: "Building on the company's legacy as one of the greatest innovators in the technology industry may be a smarter business model than taking on the rest of the industry in a battle that may be impossible to win."

His reasoning is twofold: first and most obviously, Apple stands to gain more by competing in the market than competing in the courts. Second, he says that if Apple went ahead with patent suits, it may not be able to win them. He says that it appears that much of Apple's multitouch IP portfolio is based on work from a couple of its employees -- who also were granted a number of multitouch patents while they were employed by the University of Delaware. The University holds those patents, while the analyst also found a lot of potential prior art he says could threaten the Apple patents' validity if they're reviewed. So if Apple realizes the patents may not stand up to a review, it could explain the bluster; but once it's clear the threats are empty, they hold no value. The question now seems to be how long Apple will try to play out the show, and how many resources it will throw at it that would be better spent on developing its products.

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  1. identicon
    geno, 5 Feb 2009 @ 11:32am

    People are missing the point

    First of all @siobahn
    ..."The iPhone clones like the Palm-Pre, Meizu M8, and just announced Toshiba TG01 all copied not just the touch screen component, but the overall appearance...."

    How can you sue on the basis of patent infrignment of a design of a Cellular device when every manufacturer these days have the same basic device and further Apple's claim that they "invented" the basic design of a candybar full-screened phone (the iPhone) is completely incorrect when the LG Prada came into existence first. In the US, aren't patents done by a FIRST TO MARKET basis and if so that Apple patent can easily be defeated.

    Also, it would be easy for Palm to defeat the other patents that cover how you interact with the screen, simply because there are only so many ways that you actually can interact with a flat surface. They can't patent the scrolling behavior or the pinching behavior because these are OBVIOUS gestures that woulda been used regardless of the iPhone doing it or not.

    Furthermore, Palm has so many patents when it comes to PDA's and Smartphone's that it is not unlikely that Apple infringed one or maybe more of these and Palm can countersue them with it making it further unlikely Apple will file a lawsuit on the Palm Pre.

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