Ap­ple set­tles HTC patent suits shift­ing from jobs' war

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

BOS­TON

Ap­ple Inc. (AAPL) set­tled all global law­suits with HTC Corp. (2498), sig­nal­ing a new will­ing­ness to re­solve patent dis­putes with­out re­sort­ing to the "ther­monu­clear war" stance fa­vored by co-founder Steve Jobs.

Ap­ple, which had ac­cused HTC of copy­ing fea­tures that made its iPhone unique, "will continue to stay laser-fo­cused on prod­uct in­no­va­tion," Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Tim Cook said in a state­ment yes­ter­day with HTC, which surged as the com­pa­nies an­nounced a 10-year li­cens­ing deal. HTC had claimed the maker of iPads and MacBooks in­fringed wire­less patents.

The set­tle­ment with HTC, the first com­pany Ap­ple sued for vi­o­lat­ing iPhone patents, sug­gests Cook will take a softer line than Jobs, who vowed be­fore his death last year to wage all-out war against smart­phones pow­ered by Google Inc. (GOOG)'s An­droid soft­ware. Ap­ple also is locked in patent law­suits around the world with Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics Co. con­cern­ing smart­phones and tablets, and won a $1 bil­lion jury ver­dict in Cal­i­for­nia.

"For as long as Tim Cook has been CEO, Ap­ple has been less in­ter­ested in pur­su­ing le­gal as­saults against com­peti­tors, choos­ing in­creas­ingly to find ways to set­tle dif­fer­ences out of court," said Carl Howe, an an­a­lyst at Yan­kee Group in Bos­ton. "This set­tle­ment in­di­cates a soft­en­ing of Ap­ple's le­gal thrusts."

Set­tling with HTC may al­low the world's most-valu­able com­pany to fo­cus its le­gal ef­forts on Sam­sung (005930), the Su­won, South Kore­abased maker of Galaxy hand­sets that's now the world's largest smart­phone maker.

"Sam­sung is still go­ing hard and has be­come an even big­ger threat" since be­ing sued by Ap­ple, said Lee Se­ung Woo, a Seoul- based an­a­lyst at IBK Se­cu­ri­ties Co. Ap­ple may have de­cided it achieved what it wanted by go­ing af­ter HTC be­cause the Tai­wanese com­pany's share of the smart­phone mar­ket has weak­ened, Lee said.

James Chung, a Seoul-based spokesman for Sam­sung, de­clined to com­ment.

Jobs, who died of can­cer last year at 56, summed up his ap­proach in a March 2010 state­ment ac­cus­ing HTC of steal­ing de­signs by Cu­per­tino, Cal­i­for­nia-based Ap­ple.

"We can sit by and watch com­peti­tors steal our patented in­ven­tions, or we can do some­thing about it. We've de­cided to do some­thing about it," Jobs said at the time. "We think com­pe­ti­tion is healthy, but com­peti­tors should cre­ate their own orig­i­nal tech­nol­ogy, not steal ours." At the time, HTC was the lead­ing maker of smart­phones us­ing An­droid. Since then, its mar­ket share has fallen be­hind Sam­sung's.

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