Tags: Wolff | Apple | patent | lawyer

USA Today: Apple Has a 'Dark Side'

Wednesday, 29 May 2013 08:22 AM

By Michelle Smith

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Apple is the envy of many companies, but the iPhone maker has a dark side hiding in plain sight: its lawyers, writes financial columnist Michael Wolff in USA Today.

Many people give Apple credit for being an industry leader because of its innovation and its commitment to quality products. But Wolff describes Apple as "a lawyer's company." He says legal professionals "turn out to be at least as important to the company as software engineers and product designers."

The highly publicized issue of what Apple pays in taxes compared with the amount of taxes it avoids is only one display of the company's legal prowess.

Editor's Note: The Final Turning Predicted for America. See Proof.

Wolff outlined other instances where Apple has pulled off significant legal feats. One instance was when Steve Jobs received backdated options and the company's general counsel was the one who received the charge for the Securities and Exchange Commission violation.

Apple also proved it was an exception to the rules when Job's health condition was hidden from its shareholders, Wolff pointed out.

But sidestepping the rules is not the only way the company employs its legal muscle. Apple uses lawyers to take aggressive action against other companies, such as the fight it picked, and lost, with Microsoft regarding Windows' infringement of the Mac desktop look and feel.

Then there was Apple's lawsuit against Samsung, which Reuters described as "the most closely watched patent trial in years." So many people were so interested due to fears that if Apple won, which it did, the company could and would lodge more lawsuits.

Reuters reported that a senior executive of a major Chinese mobile maker who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, "some of the other manufacturers of Android products like ourselves are prepared to face similar lawsuits from Apple."
According to Wolff, competitors have reason to be concerned. "It's very hard to find anyone in the technology business who, at one time or another, hasn't been menaced by Apple's lawyers," he wrote.

Wolff describes Apple as "a patent bully" and he reiterated accusations lodged by TechCrunch in 2011 — the Apple is in cahoots with patent trolls.

TechCrunch explained that trollers are lawyers who have no purpose but to acquire patents so that they can file lawsuits. The website claimed that a number of patents formerly belonging to Apple are now owned by Digitude Innovations, a Virginia-based troller. After obtaining them, the company claimed patent infringement against technology companies including RIM, HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, Amazon, and Nokia, but Apple was not on the list of alleged offenders.

Apple is a leader in an industry where Wolff sees success being redefined beyond product creation and sales.

"Most successful technology companies are products of skillful and especially vile legal departments — the more skillful and vile, the more successful," he wrote.

Editor's Note: The Final Turning Predicted for America. See Proof.

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