updated 11:50 am EST, Mon November 29, 2010
Company initiating, defending in many suits
Apple is bringing on some prominent outside lawyers to help in upcoming lawsuits, says Bloomberg. The company has for instance hired Ropert Krupka of Kirkland & Ellis, who previously helped Apple negotiate a $100 million settlement with Creative. Also onboard are WilmerHale's William Lee -- who successfully led Broadcom against Qualcomm -- and Weil, Gotshal & Manges' Matt Powers, who defended a Merck patent for Singulair, an asthma drug worth about $4.7 billion a year.
In-house hirings in recent times have included Noreen Krall, formerly the chief IP counsel for Sun, and at one point a staff attorney for IBM. Heading Apple's team is general counsel Bruce Sewell, who was hired last year. Prior to that he served for nearly 15 years at Intel, where expensive lawsuits were allegedly used as weapons to keep rivals contained.
Apple is this week set to square off against Finnish phone maker Nokia in front of the International Trade Commission. Similar battles are forthcoming with America's Motorola, and Taiwan's HTC, in addition to a regular assortment of lawsuits filed by smaller companies and individual customers. Apple has been the most-sued technology company since 2008, trumping even Microsoft, HP and Dell, says tracking firm LegalMetric.
The crux of Apple's bigger fights is believed to be defending the iPhone, while simultaneously trying to hamper the progress of smartphones based on Android. The platform has twice the US marketshare of the iPhone, owing in part to support from several phone manufacturers rather than just one. Legal struggles may ultimately be futile, suggests Rob Enderle, president of the Enderle Group consulting firm; although he says the situation will "get a lot worse before it gets better," the expected outcome involves Apple and its adversaries licensing each other's patents.