Apple Will be Horrified by What Honda's John Mendel Had to Say About Patents
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has the potential to earn more than a billion dollars after winning a legal dispute with Samsung, its largest rival. The company could earn more if it wins other battles that are set to take place in 2013.
This, along with annual product refreshes, has become a staple of Apple's strategy. It watches the competition closely and strikes whenever possible -- not only with new products but with an assault of global lawsuits.
Meanwhile, the auto industry -- which has more clones than nearly any other industry in the world -- is all but devoid of these kinds of lawsuits. One of the few legal disputes that has occurred recently involved Ford's (NYSE: F) F150. Ford sued Ferrari after the Italian manufacturer applied the "F150" name to one of its Formula One racecars. Twenty-four hours later, Ferrari backed off and changed the name of the vehicle.
It is rare that Apple's legal disputes are resolved in a day. More often than not they become a months- or years-long battle. Why is the auto industry so different?
"Design is really not patentable," John Mendel, Senior VP of Honda's (NYSE: HMC) American division, told Benzinga. "How you bend sheet metal… Because it's square and it has a screen or four doors or two doors or three doors, it's very difficult to patent design. What you hope to do is get a design that people are attracted to -- kind of a moth to a flame."
His comments are contradictory to what Apple executives believe. The company has sued Samsung for a variety of disputes relating to mobile patents and designs, including the design of its icons. Based on Mendel's assessment, the Mac maker would not be able to do much if it was in the auto industry.
Lucky for Apple, the firm does not make cars -- it makes tablets and smartphones.
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