Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 11th Nov 2012 12:48 UTC
Legal Interesting news in the middle of the night: Apple and HTC have announced they've settled all their patent disputes, bringing an end to all running lawsuits between the two companies. The companies signed a ten-year cross-licensing deal. Considering Apple's legal assault on Android hasn't been going particularly well, this really shouldn't come as a surprise.
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A broader view
by Tony Swash on Sun 11th Nov 2012 15:10 UTC
Tony Swash
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Apple started its legal crusade against HTC well over two years ago, and HTC obviously couldn't do anything else but reply in the form of countersuits.

Or HTC could have stopped using the features that Apple deemed to be infringing. I am not saying they should have or that Apple were right in what they did, just that they way you choose to phrase it implies that HTC had only one course of action open to it - counter suing - when it actually had more than one.

These past few years of patent aggression by Apple have given the Cupertino company little to nothing - the UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Australia; Apple didn't win anything substantial anywhere, while the lawsuits did tarnish the company's name. Nobody wants to be known for litigation.

It's possible that that is the explanation for this deal but it is inaccurate to say that Apple has 'little to nothing' to show for it's legal strategy. It depends on what you think the purpose of that legal strategy was. If you think, wrongly and foolishly in my opinion, that the purpose of Apple's legal strategy was to actually stop the manufacture and sale of competing devices then such a strategy would end in failure because it is an impossible goal to seek. Apple know that it is impossible which is why it is not their goal.

Apple's aim with it's legal strategy was to establish a reputation and create a new culture around the way other companies viewed 'borrowing' or emulating or mimicking Apple's designs.

What Apple now has is a strong reputation as an aggressive defender of what it considers to be it's IP and a company that is very willing to take aggressive legal action. That may have been Apple's prime motivation to start with, to create a reputation that would over time deter companies from copying Apple's IP in a cavalier and care free way.

Such a strategy won't stop copying but if Apple can succeed in establishing a reputation as a company that will come out with all legal guns blazing at the smallest provocation then it is inevitable that that will have a deterrent effect some of the time.

I am sure that Apple's legal strategy has damaged it's reputation in the eyes of some and I am also sure that that damage is utterly insignificant in terms of overall brand reputation and impact on sales. Apple took the decision that to wage a war of legal attrition in order to make sure that other companies know that it is fierce and determined defender of it's IP was worth doing even if it pissed off some (but not many) consumers.

Please be clear that nothing I have said concerns the rights or wrongs of what Apple or the Android OEMs have done. It is just an attempt to understand what Apple's strategy was about, as far as they are concerned, and thus whether it can be judged a success or not, as far as Apple are concerned.

I would think that on the whole they are happy with the war so far. Many battles fought, some won, some lost, some as yet undecided and some have not even started yet. Already however Apple has established one very important fact, it will fight and fight hard.

As far as the HTC settlement is concerned one cannot know the exact reasons without being privy to secret information but one way Apple might have looked at this was to ask itself 'why bother to murder a dying man?'

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