"If Apple were to prevail with claims based on this patent, the
effects could be severe - at least, in the United States. Devices
made by companies other than Apple could lose a number of important
techniques which make touchscreen-based interfaces usable.
Companies like Palm could conceivably license the patent from Apple
(if Apple were willing), but that is almost certainly not an option
for toolkits (like Android) which are based on free software. Linux
World Domination for mobile devices could well suffer a major
"Arguably, this patent would have no effect on business
conducted outside of the US. Fully-capable devices could be sold
elsewhere, as long as they are developed entirely outside of the
United States. American users could be stuck with iPhones or
devices with inferior interfaces - with the lucky few carrying
devices furtively imported from elsewhere. In practice, excluding
the US would make it harder for any such product to succeed. And
US-based platforms, including Android and Palm webOS, would be out
"It may not come to that, though. Perhaps Apple does not intend
to use its patents as an offensive weapon. After all, the company
has done well enough by focusing on building great products, and
the look-and-feel lawsuits of the 1980's did little to help Apple
succeed. A new round of litigation would risk alienating developers
worldwide and distracting Apple from the activities which truly
benefit the company."
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