informa
/
2 MIN READ
Commentary

Apple Targeting Palm For Patent Violations?

During yesterday's earnings call, Apple COO Tim Cook said the company will defend its intellectual property vigorously. He didn't name names, but the Palm Pre with webOS has multitouch capability. Apple holds the patents for that technology.
During yesterday's earnings call, Apple COO Tim Cook said the company will defend its intellectual property vigorously. He didn't name names, but the Palm Pre with webOS has multitouch capability. Apple holds the patents for that technology.In the time I spent using the Palm Pre at CES several weeks ago, it was immediately apparent that the phone has the ability to recognize complex finger gestures, such as pinching and zooming. Touch technology comes in two main variants right now: resistive and capacitive. Because of the way resistive touch screens work, they can only handle one point of input at a time. That means no multitouch ability. Capacitive touch screens can handle multiple methods of input, and can thereby support multitouch gestures. The Apple iPhone has a capacitive screen, as does the HTC G1 and the Palm Pre.

Apple already has applied for patents concerning multitouch technology in phones, so others interested in using it would have to license it from Apple.

Responding to a question during yesterday's earnings call, Cook said, "We are watching the landscape. We like competition, as long as they don't rip off our IP, and if they do, we're going to go after anybody that does. I don't want to talk about any specific company. I'm just making a general statement that we think competition is good; it makes us all better. And we're ready to suit up and go against anyone. However, we will not stand for having our IP ripped off and we'll use whatever weapons we have at our disposal. I don't know that I can be more clear than that."

I met with Palm executives at CES to get some hands-on time with the Pre. When I noticed the multitouch capability, I asked them point blank, "Are you licensing Apple's multitouch technology in the Pre?" One executive said, "I'm not going to answer that," and turned away to look at the floor.

I'll let you draw your own conclusions from that response.

Was Cook speaking about Palm? Has Palm already licensed Apple's technology, and just doesn't want to admit it? Or is Palm hoping no one notices?

Editor's Choice
Mary E. Shacklett, President of Transworld Data
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer