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Tim Cook: Apple Will Aggressively Protect iPhone Intellectual Property

One item of particular interest from Apple's earnings conference call yesterday was Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook's comments regarding Apple's intellectual property related to the iPhone. Cook's forceful comments made clear that Apple will vigorously defend the intellectual property that has enabled the iPhone to revolutionize the smartphone industry.

We approach this business as a software platform business. And so I think we approach it fundamentally different than people that are approaching it only from a hardware point of view. And, so, as I've said before, we're very, very confident with where we are competitively. We are watching the landscape. We like competition, as long as they don't rip off our IP. And if they do, were going to go after anybody that does.

When pressed as to whether these comments were directed towards the new Palm Pre, which utilizes swiping and pinching multi-touch gestures very similar to those on the iPhone, Cook declined to specifically name any companies they thought were infringing on Apple's patents.

Well, I don't want to talk about any specific company. I'm just making a general statement that we think competition is good. It makes us all better. And we are ready to suit up and go against anyone. However, we will not stand for having our IP ripped off, and we'll use whatever weapons that we have at our disposal. I don't know that I could be more clear than that.

Palm's product development efforts are led by executive chairman Jon Rubinstein, a longtime Apple executive. Rubinstein's relationship with Apple dates to 1990, when Steve Jobs recruited Rubinstein to lead hardware engineering at NeXT. He later joined Apple upon their February 1997 acquisition of NeXT and became head of hardware engineering, overseeing development of the original iMac. Rubinstein also played an integral role in the development of the iPod, and became the first head of Apple's iPod division in 2004. Rubinstein resigned from Apple in 2006.