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Can Copyright Infringement Cases Actually Kill Apple?

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With Apple getting sued left and right, I’m wondering if there’s a chance that they would go bankrupt. Apparently, Apple is currently defending itself from more than 47 patent infringement cases, with 27 of filed only this year 2009.

Included in this count is the recent case when Nokia sued Apple, claiming that the iPhone infringes Nokia patent for GSM, UMTS and wires LAN (WLAN) standards. The patents included wireless data, speech coding, security and encryption.

More recently St. Clair Intelllectual Property Consultants, a Grosse Point Michigan company has also sued Apple, claiming that Apple has violated imaging related patents owned by the said company. The imaging related patents are as follows:

  • U.S. Patent Nos. 5,138,459 (“Electronic Still Video Camera with Direct Personal Computer (PC) Compatible Digital Format Output”);
  • U.S. Patent Nos. 6,094,219 (“Electronic Still Video Camera with Direct Personal Computer (PC) Compatible Digital Format Output”);
  • U.S. Patent Nos. 6,233,010 (“Electronic Still Video Camera with Direct Personal Computer (PC) Compatible Digital Format Output”); and
  • U.S. Patent Nos.6,323,899 (“Process for Use in Electronic Camera”)

Apple has earned $8.34 billion in revenue for the third quarter of this year, but is that actually enough money for them to take care of all these infringement cases? As we all know, responding to these cases take up a lot of time AND money.

[ Image courtesy of TechShout ]

Lia Espina

Lia Espina

5 thoughts on “Can Copyright Infringement Cases Actually Kill Apple?

  1. I guess if Apple have enough money to fight Psystar in court, where they are unlikely to get back the money it has cost them even if Psystar paid Apple every dollar they have ever made, then I guess they have enough money to fight the people going after themselves.

    With their healthy mark up on all goods (what it is not double the industry average) there should be plenty of money to cover a few wins against them too and still leave them with money in the bank.

    I’m willing to guess that the bad press from trying to sue NY city over their logo, Psystar and other silly news stories probably does Apple more harm than loosing a few of these cases. You would be surprised how many people are put off by companies who seem to bully others and decide to quietly boycott their products. Hey maybe even a Nokia win might do them good as it may get them a bit more sympathy.

    The BIG problem does seem to be the whole patent business (esp the US branch) where the patents last too long, are too broad and 90% of the time seems to be patenting the bloody obvious.

  2. Patent trolls are always time consuming and expensive. However Apple has no debt, significant cash reserves (est. approx. $34 billions) and increasing revenue. It is much more likely for those companies suing Apple to run out of money before it does, and also in reality most of these companies are looking not to kill the golden goose but have a share of its booty, so consequently it’s not in their interests to ruin a company and they go to the negotiating table long before this is likely.

  3. You do realize that Apple has over 30 BILLION dollars in cash reserves, right? That’s more money than Microsoft, Google, Cisco… just about anyone. And I suspect each of those three also have dozens of patent lawsuits currently active. That’s an unfortunate side effect of out of whack patent law that is currently in place in this country. The vast majority of those suits will get dismissed.

  4. I had no idea Apple was so involved in law suits. 47?! Wow!

    By the way, what a beautiful site! It is so clean and appealing, and perfectly functional. What an amazing design. Truly.

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