Apple’s first iPhone was launched in 2007 to a somewhat skeptical market. This rapidly changed however, with the device, and its next iterations seeing huge numbers of sales - in effect redefining what a phone should be. Given this, it was only natural that a large number of competitors began to make phones which imitated much of the the form factor of the iPhone.
While in the past companies had not been particularly concerned about copying each other’s designs, Apple considered its design particularly unique. For this reason it was incensed at certain Android manufacturers (particularly Samsung) releasing devices featuring the same rectangular form utilizing a multi-touch screen. Acting out of anger, it initiated a series of massive lawsuits against companies for allegedly copying their ideas.
Unfortunately for Apple, these attempts to use the legal system to fight their competitors were largely unsuccessful. After years of legal battles and laughable claims by both sides, Apple managed to be awarded a penalty of over 1 billion dollars from Samsung in the US. However, Samsung used delaying tactics, and appealed the decision, before ultimately having it reduced considerably, all the while growing to become the largest seller of consumer electronics in the world - helped in no small part through its Galaxy line of smartphones.
Now today, Apple has finally acknowledged that this patent war is simply not worth the time and money. Reports are emerging that the Apple-funded patent consortium Rockstar has withdrawn its cases against Google and other Android manufacturers. This move will end almost all major lawsuits which Apple had against its competitors, following what was likely a small settlement out of court. In addition, it has also been reported that Apple plans to defund Rockstar, signalling an end to its litigatious approach.
While this may seem like a strange change of strategy, it makes complete sense in context. Apple is currently making record profits which are driven by massive sales of its recent devices like the iPhone 6. The company has proven it is much more beneficial to simply focus on producing great products and out competing their competitors in the market, rather than in the courtroom.
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