The tame Apple press is having a crack at painting its idol as the underdog in the current wave of patent-infringement court cases.
A war between all the major mobile phone makers has broken out over who invented what. More cynical observers think that court cases are to save time and money actually competing against each other.
Witness the Sydney Morning Herald , which has been running a lot of pro-Apple stories lately. Its coverage of the story is how Apple is being forced to hire lawyers to defend itself against the evil Nokia before the US International Trade Commission.
You know a story is going badly when the introduction fails to mention anything about the court case but its first sentence is a piece of pro-Apple spin “Steve Jobs made Apple’s iPhone one of the best-selling smartphones on the market with its touchscreen, fast web connection and access to more than 300,000 downloadable applications.” Um, did he? And what is that doing in your first paragraph?
However it gets worse. The case is apparently all about “Apple is trying to protect its right to import the iPhone, while shutting out rivals, particularly those with devices powered by Google’s Android operating system.”
Horrors does that mean that if Apple loses the case it will lose the right to import the shiny gizmo? Well yes it does. But anyone who follows trademark disputes know that complaints to the US ITC are all about putting the frighteners on your opposition so that they pay you huge amounts of cash for technology licensing.
Poor Jobs’ Mob, it’s picked on all the time. Apparently its rivals are very “well-known, deep-pocketed, high-end manufacturers,” and “Apple has been the most-sued technology company since 2008, the year after the iPhone was introduced, topping Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Dell”.
In the Apple fanboy mind, Steve Jobs invents everything, so the fact that Apple is the most sued company does not mean that it is a serial nicker of others’ ideas, it means that it is picked on.
The Herald gives us the image that the “most valuable company in the world” is now the tiny innovative company which is having to take on big tech giants.
To see off such bullying by these big tech companies it is having to recruit lawyers who have fought for and against some of the world’s largest companies.
Apple has hired Bruce Sewell, Apple’s general counsel who worked for 15 years at Intel. Now even the Sydney Morning Herald has a problem here. It admits that Sewell was famous for using lawsuits to bottle up rivals in costly legal disputes. Before Apple, he worked at Chipzilla and before that he was a partner at Phoenix-based law firm Brown & Bain, which represented Apple in its copyright case against Microsoft.
Sewell is not really the sort of person who represents legal underdogs. He is a player of legal hardball and is really good at playing it.
In addition to Sewell, Jobs’ Mob has hined Lee of WilmerHale in Boston, who successfully represented Broadcom in its fight against Qualcomm; Robert Krupka of Kirkland & Ellis, who negotiated a 2005 settlement in which Apple agreed to pay $US100 million to Creative Technology. Also hired is Matt Powers of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, who successfully defended the patent on Merck & Co.’s biggest product, the $US4.7 billion-a-year asthma drug Singulair.
Let us not forget the additional paying of another in-house attorney, Noreen Krall, to focus on intellectual property litigation. Krall was the chief IP counsel for Sun Microsystems and a staff attorney at IBM.
So, the story about Apple hiring a team of some of the sharpest, and probably the most expensive lawyers to deal with Nokia is spun into an analysis that makes Apple look a David fighting against the big telcos.
But the Herald also has to point out that the case is really about shutting down Android which is a rapidly growing operating system.
Which however you look at it, is not nice.