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November 30, 2010

Apple Arms Itself with Legal Muscle for Patent Dispute with Nokia

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor


When Apple looks for new consultants and employees, it often searches for those who specialize in computer science. But now Apple CEO Steve Jobs (News - Alert) is out looking for highly skilled lawyers, according to a recent report from Businessweek.


Jobs has been recruiting lawyers who previously represented clients in disputes involving large tech companies including Microsoft, Intel Corp., and Broadcom (News - Alert) Corp.

The need for the added legal muscle comes just as Apple finds itself in a dispute with Nokia Oyj before the International Trade Commission. Businessweek said that this legal battle is one where each company claims intellectual property violations by the other.

At the core of the dispute is Apple protecting “its right to import the iPhone, while shutting out rivals, particularly those with devices powered by Google (News - Alert) Inc.’s Android operating system, the world’s most popular smartphone software,” explained Businessweek.

And there is more come. Apple is poised for patent disputes with Motorola and HTC Corp., said Businessweek.

Lyle Vander Schaaf, an attorney at Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione in Washington, D.C., who often represents clients before the ITC, told Businessweek the Apple-Nokia (News - Alert) case is an unusual one before the commission. “Usually you have one 800-pound gorilla going after a new entrant. Here you’ve got 800-pound gorillas fighting each other,” he told Businessweek.

The legal dispute should not be much of a shock to Apple watchers. Apple often finds itself in legal battles.

For example, TMCnet reported recently that an iPhone customer is suing Apple, claiming it purposely crippled the iPhone 3G with the introduction of the iOS 4 to boost the sales of the iPhone 4 device.

In fact, Businessweek reports that Apple has been the most-sued tech company since 2008. That was the year after the iPhone was released to consumers, Businessweek notes.

Apple has earned this distinction, of being the most sued, over some other likely suspects, such as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard (News - Alert) or Dell, based on data from LegalMetric Inc. and reported by Businessweek.


Ed Silverstein is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf


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