Remember when Steve Jobs launched the iPhone, and held it up in the air, proudly proclaiming “Boy, have we patented it”, followed by a massive applause of the adoring audience? It may seem like this wasn’t just an empty claim, either. During the earnings conference call yesterday, the company hinted at possible legal action against Palm were the Pre to infringe on iPhone patents.
During the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, earlier this year, Palm took the media by surprise by announcing its webOS and accompanying Pre mobile phone. The interface of Palm’s new operating system obviously bore resemblance to Apple’s iPhone operating system, and the phone also comes with multitouch (as opposed to an ordinary touch screen that most touchy-feely phones come with today). It seems like Apple isn’t really pleased by this one.
When Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO while Steve Jobs is recovering from his health issues, was asked about competitors to the iPhone, such as Android and the Palm Pre, Cook replied “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.” When asked specifically about the Palm Pre, Cook reiterated Apple’s position:
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.
Let’s translate these words into something we can all understand. No, Apple isn’t currently planning any legal action against Palm. However, Palm better not infringe on any iPhone patents when Palm launches the Pre, because Apple is ready and willing to take such a case to courts.
I find this a rather curious statement. There have been numerous phones out in the market already, including Android, that have taken several cues from the iPhone – some even go as far as to more or less copy the entire device. Still, Apple hasn’t undertaken any action. Now that Palm comes along – they suddenly start chest thumping. Does this indicate that contrary to other phones, Apple sees the Pre as an actual threat to the iPhone’s success?
It will be interesting to see where this leads to, that’s for sure.