Apple's Amazing Litigation Machine (AAPL)
Like most people who feel they have been wronged, companies are often willing to go to court to fight to protect their rights. One of the most willing is Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL).
Large corporations like Apple employ scores of lawyers who, according to USA Today, are at least as important as software engineers and product designers. One reason for that importance is the fact that Apple’s legal team is very good at what they do.
One notable, perhaps even infamous, example of the prowess of Apple’s legal team involved negotiations with the government of Ireland to keep Apple’s non-U.S. income there at a great tax advantage, according to USA Today.
In addition to sheltering assets and protecting the company when others take legal action against it, many of Apple’s courtroom battles have to do with intellectual property rights.
One recent intellectual property case involved Apple vs. Samsung, over features on Samsung smartphones and tablets that Apple claimed they owned and that Samsung “slavishly copied.” Bloomberg reported in June that Apple won the most recent battle in that case, although Apple and Samsung have gone back and forth, for what seems like ages on the matter.
In addition to the many, well-publicized intellectual property rights cases in which Apple has been involved, the company has also played a role in other types of case law as well, including antitrust claims, consumer actions, commercial unfair trade practice suits, defamation claims and even corporate espionage.
Newstalk listed several of the more notable lawsuits that involved Apple, including one filed by the company against bloggers in 2004 who published information leaked by an Apple employee. Apple initially won, but a California Court of Appeals reversed the decision.
Sometimes, as Reuters reported Wednesday, the matter ends up in a draw. Such was the case regarding the suit between Apple and Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) over who has the right to use the “app store” name.
Ultimately, Apple issued a covenant to Amazon, promising not to sue over the retailer’s use of the “app store” term and U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California ordered the case dismissed.
Much of the time, however, Apple wins. Sometimes with a sense of humor. In 1994, Newstalk said, when Apple engineers used “Carl Sagan” as a codename for the new Macintosh computer, the famous astronomer, thinking it might be misinterpreted as an endorsement, asked Apple to change the name.
Apple complied, instead codenaming it "BHA." When Sagan found out that BHA stood for "butt-headed astronomer," he sued Apple, claiming it damaged his reputation. Apple won that lawsuit. After Sagan filed multiple appeals, however, the company settled out of court.
In an apparent dig at its own legal team, Apple changed the code name again, to LaW, short for “Lawyers are Wimps.”
At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco had no position in any mentioned securities.
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