Make no mistake about it, both Nokia and Apple are taking their ongoing legal battle with the utmost seriousness. Nokia got the ball rolling when it filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that a wide number of Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod, imac, and MacBook all infringe on Nokia patents pertaining to technologies as varied as camera sensors and user interface design. Compounding matters, Nokia also brought an action against Apple in the ITC (International Trade Commission). Apple, with a patent portfolio numbering in the thousands, soon responded in kind and countersued Nokia for allegedly infringing on 13 Apple patents.
But Nokia isn’t the only litigation Apple has to worry about. There’s Kodak, Motorola, HTC, along with innumerable lawsuits filed by patent trolls looking to make a quick buck. With so much at stake, having a solid team of lawyers can be as important as having a killer product – even more so for a company like Apple who, since 2008, has been the most-sued technology company in the world.
That said, Apple is lawyering up, so to speak, and is recruiting lawyers who have been involved in some of the more high profile patent lawsuits in recent memory.
Apple has hired some of the nation’s top patent lawyers as outside counsel. They include Robert Krupka of Kirkland & Ellis, who negotiated a 2005 settlement in which Apple agreed to pay $100 million to Creative Technology Ltd., maker of the Zen music player; William Lee of WilmerHale in Boston, who successfully represented Broadcom Corp. in its fight against Qualcomm; and Matt Powers of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, who successfully defended the patent on Merck & Co.’s biggest product, the $4.7 billion-a-year asthma drug Singulair.
This year, Apple added an in-house attorney, Noreen Krall, to focus on intellectual property litigation. Krall had been chief IP counsel for Sun Microsystems Inc. and a staff attorney at International Business Machines Corp., according to the Intellectual Property Owners Association.
When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone, he made a point of noting that Apple patented the hell out of it. Unfortunately in today’s litigious society, having a patent isn’t always enough to keep patent trolls at bay and you need to call in high powered attorneys to handle the dirty work.