Creative Technology, a Singapore-based company, filed a patent for a “portable music playback device” in the same year as Apple released the iPod, which had many similarities to the patent.
When the patent was granted to Creative Technology in 2006, the company decided to sue Apple for infringement, and the suit resulted in a reluctant Apple coughing up a US$100 million fine.
Following the patent suit loss, Jobs told his senior managers that when it came to the new iPhone “we’re going to patent it all,” a former Apple executive told The New York Times.
The report says that Apple held monthly “invention disclosure sessions,” in which three patent lawyers and a group of software engineers would meet and discuss their new inventions. “That’s a patent,” the lawyers would say.
“Even if we knew it wouldn’t get approved, we would file the application anyway,” a former Apple patent lawyer told NYT. “If nothing else, it prevents another company from trying to patent the idea.”
“Former Apple employees say senior executives made a deliberate decision over the last decade, after Apple was a victim of patent attacks, to use patents as leverage against competitors to the iPhone, the company’s biggest source of profits,” writes NYT.
“Apple has always stood for innovation,” Apple told NYT in a statement. “To protect our inventions, we have patented many of the new technologies in these ground-breaking and category-defining products. In the rare cases when we take legal action over a patent dispute, it’s only as a last resort.”
“We think companies should dream up their own products rather than wilfully copying ours, and in August a jury in California reached the same conclusion,” Apple said.