First, kill all the lawyers

Palm has trouble, right here in River City. Apple’s COO and interim CEO said on their recent earnings call that they would aggressively defend their intellectual property. He didn’t call out the Palm Pre by name, but the subtext was there.

Palm needs to be ready for this. Apple files for every patent they can think of, and they believe they have defendable patents on multitouch and using a proximity sensor on a smartphone to turn off the screen (which is why you don’t see that feature on HTC devices). Apple also has lots of land sharks, I mean lawyers, and a lot more cash than Palm to handle legal fees.

I know Rubenstein saw this coming, he’s too smart to have missed it and he knows well how his old company operates. So he implemented those two features on the Pre knowing Apple would come after him. Why? What does he know that we don’t?

7 thoughts on “First, kill all the lawyers”

  1. Well, Palm did pretty much invent the PDA.

    Who’s to say they might not have some dusty old patents socked away that they could pit against Apple in a flurry of Mutual Assured Patent-Obstruction?

    (Or perhaps they’re banking on using Minority Report as prior art. 🙂

  2. Apple suing Palm would be like the guy who parks next to the handicap spot over the line and then sues the person getting into their van for rubbing the paint job with his wheelchair while struggling to get in. While the prior poster may have been kidding about “Minority Report” prior art, bear in mind that the waterbed could not be patented because Robert Heinlein described the waterbed in the novella “Waldo”. While its entirely possible they will go after Palm if the product takes off, its equally likely that Palm will not have any problem finding the funds to defend the suit, probably from some folks up Redmond way on the theory of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”

  3. I wish you hadn’t used that headline. It’s a quote from a Shakespearean play in which a conspirer to overthrow the throne of England postulates that if one wants to ensure anarchy follows, “first kill all the lawyers.”

    I agree with your sentiment, however, and commented over on Palminfocenter similarly to you.

    If Apple wishes to ‘patent’ how I use my fingers, then I’ll hold one finger up for them.

    Harold

  4. Jeff-
    I’m really disappointed in the disparaging remarks you’ve made about lawyers. Adding fuel to the nonsense about lawyers is beneath you. Lawyers are no worse than the people they represent.

    Please think before you make statements like that. Thank you.

  5. It would be interesting to see if prior art does exist for one of the main tenets of the "multitouch patent", that being, the ability to determine if the user is attempting to make a vertical or a horizontal swipe on the screen. I would think that some developer would have implemented it at some time in the history of touch screen pdas. That said, I think Palm stays safe due to MAD. An article on a website (I think it may have been Engadget) shows that Apple’s iPhone clearly violated many of Palm’s patents when it was first released (and still violates them now). I think both companies know what they are doing, and that at least again a patent powerhouse like Palm these patents are unenforcable (which is to say other companies might not be so lucky, or may be shielded by Palm out of necessity).

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