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Lawsuits do not a creative Apple make

Marco Tabini | May 15, 2014
In the highly litigious world of mobile technology, it's becoming hard to keep track of who's suing who, but more and more often it seems that Apple's name is appearing as one of the parties in the slew of legal actions that's sweeping the industry.

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In the highly litigious world of mobile technology, it's becoming hard to keep track of who's suing who, but more and more often it seems that Apple's name is appearing as one of the parties in the slew of legal actions that's sweeping the industry.

Given the sheer number of lawsuits in play between the folks from Cupertino and other major industry players, you probably won't be surprised to hear that I am beginning to find much of this legal ballyhoo a little boring. You might, however, be surprised to hear that I'm also starting to root for the other guys.

Start your photocopiers
For better or worse, the products that have come out of Cupertino's labs in the last ten years have informed the design of just about any other device in their respective categories. Objectively, it would be difficult to argue against the fact that, after the iPhone was introduced, practically every other smartphone started looking like it, or that the iPad didn't essentially invent a whole new product category, putting a sizeable dent in the thirty-year-old PC industry. Even the MacBook—perhaps the least exciting of the company's product lines—has changed the way we perceive laptops to such a degree that competitors seemingly can't resist being "inspired" by its looks.

As Apple enthusiasts, it's hard to sit by and watch your favorite company's products and innovations be copied by its competitors, because the investment that we make in its products is more than financial. iPhones, iPads, and Macs were built with the idea that computers should make our lives better, and they have succeeded so well that many of us have formed an emotional attachment with them and are willing to pay a not insignificant premium for them—something for which we are relentlessly mocked by both the press and our friends. (Those same friends were later seen driving away in their $50,000 sports car to spend $200 so that they could watch ten people beat the snot out of each other for two hours at a pro hockey game.)

You gotta do what you gotta do
Similarly, I also realize that Apple probably has little choice but to aggressively pursue every legal avenue to protect its products. If Tim Cook suddenly had a change of heart and decided to drop all of the company's Android-related lawsuits, he would probably be laughed out of office so quickly that his glasses would be left floating in mid-air, Wile E. Coyote fashion.

Nor do I think that a company the size of Apple is likely to be completely distracted by lawsuits, no matter how numerous or complex. I'm sure that general counsel Bruce Sewell's ample budget can allow for a big enough army of lawyers and experts to take on any opponent—short of a few sovereign governments—without taking food out of the mouths of Jonathan Ive and his creative team.

 

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