Now we learn that Apple is also the world’s #1 technology industry target for lawsuits. The company has deep pockets, a wide range of products, and that makes Apple an easy target for anyone with a patent to abuse.
Arrows In The Back
Not to be politically incorrect, but it’s been said that the pioneers are the ones that get the arrows in the back, while the settlers get to reap the benefits and own the land.
That’s not quite the case with Apple, though the company has prospered as a near first mover perhaps more than others.
Apple’s history is full of technology innovation and market disruption, yes, but the company really just cobbles together off-the-shelf technology in unique ways.
That, and the embarrassing riches collected by Apple in the 21st century, have made the company an incredible target for patent infringement lawsuits.
Bloomberg reported that Apple leads all technology companies– from Amazon and AT&T to Google and Dell, to Samsung and Microsoft– in the number of patent infringement lawsuits over the past year.
Worse, in the U.S. the lose in a patent case is not required to pay the winner’s legal fees, which seems to invite more lawsuits. There’s little to lose and much to gain by suing companies that have tens of billions of dollars in the bank.
Where Apple also seems to be a leader in the aggregate is among the number of media critics; from Wall Street to the blogosphere and everywhere in between, Apple’s public cage gets rattled by a growing number of media critics, who often posit ridiculously formed arguments nicely packaged and wrapped up in an eye catching headline just to attract readers.
Name another technology company with a higher public profile– negative or positive– than Apple; the company that seems to polarize every human into an opinion about the company and its products. Hardly a day goes by without an article or two on why Apple is doomed, why CEO Tim Cook should be fired, and why the new Apple isn’t like the old Apple under co-founder Steve Jobs.
Back to the other target. The largest awards in patent infringement lawsuits seem to be from competitor against competitor. Look at Apple’s long and winding legal road against Samsung, which employes the simple strategy of ‘steal and stall.’ Apple is fighting back and winning more often than losing, which you would think would be a deterrent to future lawsuits and make Apple less of a target.
Apple is often put on a pedestal by customers and supporters, but just as often put up on a pedestal so critics and competitors can take target practice.