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Apple Hints at Palm Lawsuit?

As we mentioned briefly during TiPb's live coverage of Apple's Q1 conference call yesterday, and our new sibling site, PreCentral.net elaborated on, Apple's Chief Operating Officer, Tim Cook, might have made a shot across Palm's bow when it comes to the Pre and Apple's multi-touch patents (text via Macworld):

We like competition, as long as they don't rip off our [intellectual property], and if they do, we're going to go after anyone who does. [...] Don't want to talk about any specific company, just making a general statement. We are ready to suit up and go against anyone. However, we will not stand for having our IP ripped off and will use whatever weapons we have at our disposal.

Recent capacitive touch devices like the Google Android and the BlackBerry Storm have steered very clear of anything even remotely resembling the iPhone's behaviors, but the Palm Pre duplicates many almost exactly (rubber banding, pinching, panel sliding, etc). Then again, Palm hired Rubinstein and many other Apple employees to round out the Pre team, didn't they?

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone at Macworld 2007, one of his big bullet points was "and boy have we patented it", so I guess now we can all sit back and see if we've got a fight on our hands. Will Apple go after Palm, and does Palm have any patents in their own portfolio to fight back with? (Because they sure don't have Apple's multi-billion dollar war chest behind them).

And yes, we know Jeff Han showed off many "Minority Report" style multi-touch behaviors long before the iPhone.

UPDATED: Apple filed for their own patents starting back in 2004, before Han, and also acquired a large amount of patents when they bought Fingerworks in 2005 (via Engadget comments).

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple Hints at Palm Lawsuit?

13 Comments

This is really not shocking at all, at least to me. Palm hires ex Apple employee, comes out with a phone with similar features. And yes I know the Pre has some very unique features that the iPhone lacks. Watching the Palms Keynote lawsuit was the first thing that popped in my mind.

Funny.
If true...can't wait to see how this turns out.
I would still like to see the PRE come out though :)

@miles how will it make apple look bad?
I think it makes companies look bad when they try to defend stuff that is not rightfully theirs (IP)
But in this case... things like Multi touch is rightfully theirs. So they should fight back.
I know it sucks to say that because the Pre does in fact look cool. but they should have used their own IP or design functionality instead of copying off someone elses.

When I saw multi-touch used for things like pinching for zoom in the browser, Apples patent claim came straight to mind. Part of the Pre's appeal, was that it seemed to resemble almost all of the good parts of the iPhone!
We'll still see the Pre, and it's done the job of drawing massive positive attention to Palm - who needed that badly. It may just not be released with Exactly the same UI

It's only a matter of time before someone comes here to tell us all about the primitive backwoods touch technology of the 1980s long before Apple used it. So, let me just say to them in advanced... please don't bother. :roll:

Seriously iphone wasnt the first phone that was touchable. apple is just worry that with the pre coming out it will make their precious iphone look like crap. the pre is something better so just let it come out.

apple is hatin. everybody knos that PALM was here way before Apple. Apple is the real swagga jackas. apple need to stop hatin and let the phone come out. hopefully it will come out tomorow.
Happy Valentines Day everybody!

No way Apple has a limb to stand on at all. This whole Apple vs. Palm lawsuit potential is just a bunch of hype. I am really surprised that no one here has bothered to mention how many patents Palm has owned since the early 1990s and how many of those patents Apple is already in violation of. Thats why Apple will not pursue this and that is why they do not have a limb to stand on. Check this article out for more details on some of Palm's patents: http://www.engadget.com/2009/01/28/apple-vs-palm-the-in-depth-analysis/

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