APPLE FANS MAY rejoice in the fact that Apple won the first round of what many are calling patent law stupidity, but the sad truth is that while Apple may have won the battle, doing so could easily have cost them the entire war.
Having burnt a considerable pile of cash on legal rotweilers and kept a few tech journalists in jobs with increasingly sensationalist headlines over recent months, Apple has been pretty much going all out to make life as difficult as possible for Android. Samsung aside, virtually all the usual Android suspects (HTC, Motorola, LG, etc) have had legal spats with Apple recently.
Now Google has decided that enough is enough and is taking a course of legal action that could equate to a sales ban on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac computers in the US. In short, Google is pissed and now it’s personal, and things could get very tricky indeed for Apple. Personally, I think it’s a little sad that things have come to this (two wrongs never make a right), but as they say, those that live by the sword will die by it.
The big news here is that this is the first time that Google has moved to defend Motorola, its new hardware company, so now there’s no more quiet and subtle support in the background, Google are about to go thermonuclear and the stakes are huge. Instead of going after Apple because of some vague interface quirk or some poorly worded internal memo translated from Korean into English, Google and Motorola (erm, Googlerola) are instead filing a patent infringement case for non-standard essential patents.
In non legal-speak, this translates to Googlerola filing a case that if they win, could see Apple forced to completely stop using the patented bits in its gear, which over the short term could effectively translate into a full sales ban for any gear running afoul of Googlerola’s patents. Indications are that the patents are WiFi related, and that Motorola had been attempting to reach licensing agreements with Apple since 2010 and yep, you guessed it, Apple refused to play nice – isn’t that shocking.
Apple may have cost Samsung a month or two of global revenues, but this time it’s not facing up against an OEM, now its Googlerola. Perhaps one of the most powerful players in the IT space, it owns a shedload of patents, many of which are vital to the day-to-day functioning of Apple gear such as the iPad, iPhone and iMac. If Apple refuses to settle and things do descend into a legal pissing contest, Apple could find itself fighting for its life as sales bans in their US heartland would effectively drive a wooden stake straight through its stratospheric share price.
The patent wars that have been driving so much hype in tech media are a long, long way from being over, and now it appears that they are about to get incredibly ugly as Google weighs in. Watch this space. PAT PILCHER
UPDATE: It appears that in a fit of common sense, Apple may have realised it had bitten off more than it could chew and has reached a licensing agreement with Motorola over most (if not all) of the disputed patents, so litageddon is now postponed until the next rainy Wednesday…