Thomas, Joshua, Shawn, Calvin, Kulvinder
Protecting Intellectual Property
Apple has recently launched the sales of their latest gadget which is the iPhone 5. This product was bound to give them great revenues as they have many brand loyal customers. Apple Inc has one of the largest fan bases in the world as this is the cause of their supremacy in the Smartphone business. One of their challenges faced by Apple when marketing the iPhone 5 is the protection of their intellectual property. Intellectual property comes in the form of copyrights, patents, trademarks, etc. In recent years, Apple has many lawsuits against Samsung due to patent infringements. Apple sued it's component supplier, Samsung alleging in a 38-page federal complaint on April 15, 2011 in the United States District Court that several of Samsung's android phones and tablets infringed on Apple's intellectual property: its patents, trademark, user interface and style.
Apple's custom-built legal strategy can be seen in the unusual legal arrows it's using to sling Samsung. The company's dramatic accusations at that Samsung "slavishly copied" the design of the iPad and iPhone, for instance, are based on a type of patent called design patents, unfamiliar even to most intellectual property lawyers.
Far less common than conventional "utility patents", design patents protect the ornamental aspects of a practical object. According to law professor Sarah Burstein of the University of Oklahoma, design patents were traditionally limited to fields like furniture and lighting until Apple began obtaining them for consumer electronics. It's a credit to Apple and its patent counsel who made progress in getting them through clever claiming.
In addition to design patents, Apple is also using another lesser known form of intellectual property known as "trade dress" to jab Samsung. Unlike a trademark which protects names and logos, trade dress protects distinctive shapes and packaging like the iPad.
For Apple, this was just the beginning of an effort to push out the legal boundaries protecting its products. By the 1990s, Apple lawyers had developed a strategy of wrapping layer after layer of legal rights around each gadget. These layers can include one of its dozens of i-related trademarks or some of the thousand of patents in Apple's portfolio. In practice, this means that any product, from basic headphones to a 16GB iPad, is bristling with utility patents, design patents, trade secrets, trade dress, copyright and other legal spikes designed to keep its competitors far, far away. The company's obsession with intellectual property is also reflected in its refusal to prune its patent portfolio. Typically, companies let some of their weak patents lapse rather than paying thousands of dollars in maintenance fees to hold onto them. Not Apple. According to the Patent-O blog, Apple never abandons a single patent.
The advancement of technology is one of the main factors of the iPhone 5 being a huge hit in the market. All of Apple's products contain high end technological improvements and this has made their products appealing. Ever wonder how Apple can bring out products year after year that are so far ahead of the competition in construction and materials that they seem downright futuristic, all while maintaining huge profit margins? Its because Apple is using its enormous pool of cash-on-hand to lock up cutting-edge tech years before the competition has even heard of it. In short, what Apple does is use its massive pool of cash to strategically shop for new technologies and invest in them, allowing them to come to market years before they otherwise have. There's a price though. Apple gets exclusive access to that technology for a window of time, and then gave a heavy discount on it afterwards. Apple has...