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Apple Threatens Palm Without Naming Them

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Somebody at Apple got their feelings hurt. I guess the popular girl in school couldn’t take the new girl getting all the oohs and ahhs. So the popular girl is saying that people, in general, are taking all of her style and fashion ideas, buying the same clothes as her, dressing the same and wearing the same makeup. And its just. not. FAIR!

What the heck are we talking about? Check out what Tim Cook, Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, said during the company’s earnings call:

We like competition, as long as they don’t rip off our IP, and if they do, we’re going to go after anybody that does … We will not stand for having our IP ripped off and we’ll use whatever weapons we have at our disposal [to make sure that doesn’t happen]. I don’t know that I can be more clear than that.

Up until now, Apple had clearly done the best job at creating a device that consumers love. What Palm seems to have accomplished with the Pre is tapping into these same desires. So unless Apple has a patent for something called “Making What Consumers Want” then I’m not sure what grounds they have to sue. There are two scenarios here:

  • Apple knows that a few former employees went to Palm to build the Pre and WebOS – they’re probably doing their due diligence in ensuring that no intellectual property was carried over to the competition.
  • Apple wants to establish itself as “the original” with Palm simply copying them. Even if not in a court of law, they at least want to win that judgement in the minds of consumers and this was their opening statement of sorts.

Both of the above are probably correct assumptions. But they are just that… assumptions. While Cook never mentions Palm by name, it is pretty obvious who he is talking about. It looks like we’re witnessing the start of a new rivalry in the mobile world. Although Palm wants know part of the mud slinging – they came out with a boring response stating that they have a lot of their own patents and believe that they could adequately defend themselves.

I tend to prefer the classy, played down response of Palm. I think CrunchGear’s Nicholas Deleon put it into perspective best when he said this of Tim Cook’s little rampage:

Such bold, bellicose language! “We will not stand,” he says. “We’ll use whatever weapons we have.” We are talking about two phones here, right? I could have sworn Cook was talking about defending the English Channel or something.

To cut out the nonsense, childish metaphors: Apple wants to make sure that Palm hasn’t infringed on any of its patents in creating the Pre. (Several key Palm employees are former Apple employees.) That’s really all there is to this.

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