The ghost of John Sculley haunts the halls of Cupertino. As Apple descended from greatness during his reign in the late 80s and early 90s against the rising tide of IBM-compatible personal computers, one of his clarion calls (borrowed from Jobs) was that Microsoft had stolen the look and feel of the first commercially available graphical user interface (GUI) from them. Developed for Lisa, an expensive disaster, and Macintosh, Steve Jobs’ pet project in the mid-80s, Apple believed that a mouse-driven interface – rather than a text-driven one – was their gift to humanity. In court, they fought that their GUI and its broad ‘look and feel’ was a good enough defense to fend off Microsoft’s increasingly-popular Windows operating system and extract hundreds of millions of dollars in victory dollars, if not more.
After six years, Apple lost that war, but they’ve learned enough to become litigious jerkheads as they’re now on top of the world.
When the courts ruled against Apple in several courts over the graphical user interface, they stated that the holistic experience could not be fought for as the individual elements (windows, icons, a cursor, so forth) were derived from other sources, primarily Xerox. As Apple rose to dominance over the portable electronics market with iPods, iPhones, and iPads, they’ve earned their place in the pantheon of technological titans. But Apple was smarter this time, taking the vast library of patents they’ve earned through their crushing parade to, once again, attempt ‘look and feel’ arguments against competitors.
In the hardware space, it’s Samsung, who has lost several court battles in Europe and been forced to remove several products from their lines there and redesign them to appease local courts. In the software space, Apple is waging war against Google over the very elements of the modern smartphone UI that you take for granted. Slide to unlock? Auto-complete words? Using a single search field to try and find a variety of items, whether apps, e-mails or files? Apple owns patents on these things and they want to extract the victory against the 21st century Microsoft: Google.
But aside from more royalty payments, what is Apple really accomplishing here by instigating a worldwide war of patent wars against popular opponents? What do they really have to prove at this point? Apple may be trying to ‘protect its property’, but at what point does litigation roll from self-defense to the rolling vengeance of Steve Jobs’ and John Sculley’s failed war against Microsoft twenty years ago?
Move on, Apple.
Source: The Verge