Apple Loses Senior iPhone Patent Attorney

| News

Apple logoRichard “Chip” Lutton Jr, Apple’s senior patent attorney in charge of iPhone-related properties, is leaving the company and is being replaced by BJ Watrous. Mr. Watrous has previously served as deputy general counsel for Hewlett Packard.

According to Reuters, no reason has been given to explain Mr. Lutton’s pending departure. Unnamed sources claimed he will be officially gone from Apple, possibly as soon as next month.

The timing of the change on Apple’s legal team lands in the middle of several big patent battles. Apple is currently dealing with patent infringement lawsuits from Samsung, and is suing HTC over patent infringement allegations, too. Most recently, Apple filed a second complaint against HTC with the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Apple is also dealing with patent lawsuits and potential legal action from several smaller companies including Lodsys. Currently, Lodsys is targeting iOS app developers in an effort to force them into licensing the same patents Apple for which is already paying fees.

There isn’t any word yet on exactly when Mr. Watrous will be taking over for Mr. Lutton, although his LinkedIn profile already lists as Vice President & Chief IP Counsel for Apple.

Apple has not commented on Mr. Lutton’s departure.

Comments

Fred

Not a big deal - really.  Apple’s legal juice - just as with most corporations - comes from their outside attorneys.  Not their in-house counsel.

John Dingler, artist

Fred, it’s a big enough deal when the senior lawyer leaves in the middle of this seemingly most litigious era in Apple’s juridical history.

I wonder if Jobs got rid of him because he was fed up with the recent losses as well as with the interminable proceedings, wanting to see quicker and conclusive results favoring Apple.

And I am sure that the unresolved legal issues before the courts create hesitancy and second guessing in Apple’s leadership and engineering teams when determining which technology to choose or how to best modify it for the next project to avoid any potential legal challenges.

Steve Y

Not a big deal - really.  Apple?s legal juice - just as with most corporations - comes from their outside attorneys.

Possibly a very big deal for exactly that reason:

http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2011/07/samsung-wants-some-or-potentially-all.html

Nemo

While Mr. Lutton, Jr.‘s departure at this time and in this manner is unusual and, thus, gives rise to speculation about Apple’s strategy and tactics in its many patent battles related to its iOS devices, no one, including Florian Muller, knows why Mr. Lutton, Jr. is going or whether it relates in any way to Apple’s patent battles, and if it does so relate, no one knows how it relates.  Muller was quoted simply because he has established himself as an expert who can be counted upon for a provocative, headline-creating quote.  But on why Mr. Lutton, Jr. is leaving Apple, neither Mr. Mueller or anyone else has anymore expertise than you or I.

As for the quote, supra, about Apple’s recent IP losses, it shows just how much misinformation has been spread like manure on a fallow field of ignorance to sprout rank weeds of speculation and gossip.  Apple has not had any significant losses.  The $8 million judgment of yesterday isn’t even a rounding error on Apple’s balance sheet.  And the settlement with Nokia, if Apple’s statements on that matter are correct, are just as likely to have been a major win for Apple, but without seeing the terms of the confidential settlement, no one can say for sure.  However, Apple maintains that it did not license any IP to Nokia that confers a competitive advantage that is exclusively enjoyed by its iOS devices.  So if all Nokia got was some minor patents and some money, the settlement was most definitely a major win for Apple.  But we will have to wait and see whether new Nokia phones contain any formerly exclusive and competitively significant Apple IP and/or whether Nokia acquired any protection against Apple’s future IP enforcement actions to know whether the Nokia settlement was a win or loss for Apple.

As for the rest of Apple’s IP battles, from what I can see, Apple is handling its IP battles quite well.  But I will qualify my statement in this way:  As outsiders, which includes Mr. Mueller, there is so much of significance that we do not see.  So we are left in our ignorance to speculate idly about Mr. Lutton, Jr.‘s departure from Apple.  That speculation may be good sport and is for many publications and bloggers hit-bait, but it has little probability of being correct.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

It’s time for the first installment of Bosco’s NBOTD (“No-Brainer Of The Day”). Clearly, the problem here is that Apple is bogged down in patent litigation and ITC complaints while Microsoft is actually profitting from Apple’s hard work. There are only two people to blame for this state of affairs: Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer. The first Steve was absolutely giddy when he announced the first iPhone, and proudly proclaimed that Apple had patents and planned to sue any company that infringed.

Meanwhile, the second Steve had to sit back and watch mobile while iPhone conquered BlackBerry and Android conquered iPhone. Of course, he wanted Microsoft to be the biggest name in smart phones, but he also knew that their technology didn’t quite match what this quickly evolving market wanted. When Apple started going all Russell Crowe with its patents and Google didn’t have the patent portfolio to protect its partners, Microsoft found that it could (a) license many of its own patents for both defense and counter-attack, and (b) tie the licensing to “carrots” like Windows 8 tablet and Win Phone 7 licenses.

So for all the bad will that Apple is generating by suing instead of competing, the immediate profits from IP licensing are going straight to Redmond. Apple’s potential to profit from its IP is tied up in multi-year court cases which will never be worth market share loss, and the ITC, which will not ban any popular CE import for fear of Congress nuking its anachronistic ass back to the 1930s.

This is why our boy Chippie is going to have more time to coach his kids’ soccer teams. Whether he sold Jobs on the idea that Apple could actually protect the smart phone market with patents, or whether he just whispered sweet nothings that Turtleneck Steve wanted to hear (you know, to preserve his lucrative gig for a couple years until the flaw in this strategy became apparent), Chippie was the high paid fall guy.

Perhaps this will become the textbook lesson in first mover disadvantage when several parties are armed to the teeth, and one heavily armed party can sit back and supply arms to the bit players while another suffers heavy losses. It’s not like anyone learned this from Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Afghanistan, etc.

Peter

Bosco:  Absolutely stunning and well said.

One can also look back to 1997 when Apple was embroiled in various patent battles with Microsoft.  Steve came in and just settled the whole mess for $150 million in Apple stock, an undisclosed amount of cash, and cross-licensing of patents for several years.

Sounds like Steve is making the same “mistake” the John Sculley made..

mrmwebmax

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Bosco, first of all, Android has hardly conquered iPhone. Remember my math from a day or so ago? There are 1.43 Android phones to every iPhone, despite their being 20+ Android models on 4 carriers vs. a few iPhone models on 2 carriers. And the race is hardly over, especially if iPhone 5 comes to T-Mobile and Sprint.

Oh, and don’t forget that pesky little detail of how the iPhone is the most popular handset on both Verizon and AT&T. Not bad for a handset that’s over a year old (or more than two, if you look at 3GS). Not bad for a handset that lacks 4G. Not bad for a handset that lacks both Flash and porn apps. Can’t forget that lack of porn apps.

And as for Apple generating “bad will,” umnn, with whom? Certainly not the consumers who line up for blocks to buy the latest iDevice. Certainly not the consumers who are buying up Macs at a growth rate many times that of Windows PCs. Certainly not for the consumers who make the iPhone the #1 handset on both Verizon and AT&T. Certainly not Wall Street, and all the investors who have made Apple the most valuable tech company on the planet, and the second-most valuable company of any kind, short of Exxon.

Oh, maybe you mean Apple is generating bad will with Fandroids who have no respect for intellectual property? Now that I could see. It might explain why Apple’s attempts to defend its IP are always met with such hostility by you.

A love of all things “open” doesn’t mean that Google can just incorporate Apple-patented ideas into Android. Apple is the one competing here by creating—and patenting—their own smart phone operating system. Google and OEMs using Android are the ones not competing, but instead merely stealing Apple technology and calling it their own.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Bosco, first of all, Android has hardly conquered iPhone. Remember my math from a day or so ago? There are 1.43 Android phones to every iPhone, despite their being 20+ Android models on 4 carriers vs. a few iPhone models on 2 carriers. And the race is hardly over, especially if iPhone 5 comes to T-Mobile and Sprint.

For starters, you spelled “because” wrong. Before accusing Fandroids of having no respect for IP, please look at Apple in the mirror. $8M verdict for violating IP around playlists. The real point is that IP infringement is mostly unavoidable in this space. There are no saints, because the whole concept of what IP can be owned, for how long, and under what conditions is completely screwed up. I’ve personally been against software (business process) patents from the beginning, and I think we’re starting to see the litigious consequences of that whole regime unfold worse than even the biggest critics warned.

Apple took this approach once before, where instead of actually competing in a quickly emerging market, it tried to assert IP to reserve market share for itself. It failed with its “look and feel” lawsuit against Microsoft in the early 1990s. It will mostly fail again in its effort to secure the smart phone market. Why? Because ultimately, more people and companies have a real stake in the Android ecosystem than in the iPhone ecosystem, and because the market is worth many, many times what any imaginable patent verdict could ever be.

Call Android “copycat” all you like to keep the fanboys enthused and on the reservation. It passed you a year ago, and it is getting ready to lap you grin.

Nemo

Bosco:  What world are you living in where Android has conquered even the iPhone.  Let me refer you to this resource:  http://www.asymco.com/2011/05/16/iphone-share-of-phone-market-in-q1/.  The writer, Horace Dediu, is a Harvard MBA who specializes in providing business analysis of the tech industry.  The headline of the post, supra, is:  iPhone share of phone market in Q1: 5% volumes, 20% revenues, 55% profit.  Yes, that is right.  Those are the numbers not simply for smartphones but for the entire cell phone industry as of 16 May 2011, that is, with only 5% of the volume of all cell phones, Apple by itself generates 20% of the entire industry’s revenues and 55% of the entire cell phone industry’s profits.  Of course, this isn’t surprising, as Android not only doesn’t make much money for its developers; it doesn’t make much money for its OEMs either.  So while Android, with its many brands and its presence in markets where Apple does not compete, has pulled ahead somewhat in market share, Apple is vastly more profitable than all of the Android OEMs combined.

Now, if that is getting conquered, Android OEMs will soon be bankrupt if they do any more such conquering.  And the numbers, supra, are before Microsoft revved up its campaign of extracting licensing fees from the Android OEMs, and none of this includes Apple’s iPad numbers.  If this isn’t Apple conquering the entire cell phone industry, smartphones included, by the only metric that ultimately matters, profitability, it will do until the real thing comes along.

RonMacGuy

mrmgraphics, Nemo, have you not yet figured Bosco out?  He doesn’t listen to reason or logic.  He just spews his garbage and waits for people to start arguing.  He will never acknowledge any counterarguments in support of Apple.  He picks his few things to “take a stand” on and ignores all else.  Truly a troll, albeit an amusing one.

Getting ready to lap us?  Funny stuff.  How many “laps” is the iPad ahead in this race?  Answer that Bosco.  Oh wait, he won’t…  grin

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Ron is just pissed off that Apple removed Pedobear from its app store. I’m happy to acknowledge that you’re upset Ron.

RonMacGuy

Like I said, he won’t…

Oh, and Bosco is just pissed at the recent MacObserver Article about Apple’s continued success.

“Apple?s third fiscal quarter iPad 2 sales will likely hit the 7.9 million unit mark, according to UBS analyst Maynard Um. He also expects Apple to report 18.3 million iPhones sold, and raised his quarterly revenue expectations from US$24.8 billion up to $24.9 billion. Along with high demand for the iPhone and iPad, Mr. Um is also seeing strong interest in the company?s Mac lineup.”

Music to my ears. “Mr. Um is maintaining his ?Buy? rating and $510 target price for Apple?s stock.”

Not too late to buy some stock in that “closed” company Bosco!! Hee hee. So lets see… 7.9M iPads + 18.3M iPhones (and such an archaic over-one-year-old design…) = 26.2M people who can’t see the “open” forest for the trees. So many lost people. Keep up your “open” campaign, Bosco!! People will start to listen to you someday…

mrmwebmax

+

RonMacGuy, even by Bosco’s pathetic standards, his reply to you was particularly pathetic. It fails to address any issues brought up by you, me, or Nemo, and instead is nothing more than a slanderous personal attack. If that’s all the better that Android’s #1 cheerleader can do, then they must be doomed. All the market share in the world doesn’t mean a damn thing to any entity, after all, if it doesn’t generate sufficient income with which to sustain itself. Perhaps if Android was doing such, Google could have outbid Apple for the Nortel patents, rather than getting all cutesy with numerical significance in its bids.

RonMacGuy

mrmgraphics, nothing surprises me with him anymore. All I know is that I am obviously hitting close to home with my assessment for him to respond as he did. I point out the truth about him, and he calls me a pedophile. Whatever. He really loves to argue and makes outrageous comments to get things started, then ignores anything that is counter to his claims. I also enjoy debate, but I at least try to see the other side. I give android credit where due (not much is due, but when applicable I give it). Apple can do no right it Bosco’s eyes though, and that closed-mindedness is truly pathetic. But hey, this is all about cell phones and computers - it shouldn’t get personal.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

From the definitive web site on the subject:

Anyone can understand the humor in Pedobear, as long as they do not take him seriously.

and:

The internet, with its vast trolls and lovers of inside jokes, is often overjoyed at someone’s misunderstanding of the Pedobear meme, especially if it makes it into the media.

The Internet loves you Ron, and Apple too.

RonMacGuy

Bosco, your unceasing ability to demonstrate your particular levels of both intelligence and maturity is amazing. Keep up the great work!!

Funny how this bear supposedly has been around for many years yet this is the first time I have even heard of it.  Universally recognized? Give me a break. Like a particular person who frequents MacObserver, the pedobear site is pretty full of itself…

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

It’s funnier that two of you think I called you a pedophile and took great offense. Do you know how you can tell that I generally don’t troll here and am sincere in my beliefs, like the one above about how Microsoft is the company with the “profit share” in the giant mobile litigation circle jerk? You can tell because trolling you is too easy.

mrmwebmax

+

Bosco, aren’t you the one who “demanded” an apology from me when I was slightly snarky to you in a post a while back? Practice what you preach, and try to stay on topic. This is about Android and iOS most of all. If you can’t refute arguments to your claims, you can simply say nothing, rather than resorting to personal attacks and/or other attempts at making people forget that you can’t refute those arguments against your claims.

In the words of Monty Python, you’re not fooling anyone, you know.

RonMacGuy

Well Bosco, according to Wiktionary: “In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”

OMFG, how exactly is this NOT a pefect description of you?

So tell me, what exactly were you implying when you extraneously and off-topically said I was pissed that Apple removed Pedobear from its app store? What? Tell me. Your idiotic follow-ups claiming ignorance don’t fool anyone around here.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Maybe I thought you were intelligent and savvy enough to be a supporter of ironic and borderline political speech - Google “pedobear stranger danger” to see how people overreact to completely imagined threats - and might get a laugh out of or shake your head at Apple “banning” Pedobear. “Clearly, in retrospect, I was wrong.” (See what I did there?)

And why no confirmation from you of the correctness of my point that Microsoft has all the profit share in Apple’s litigiousness? Even when I bring you guys the finest filet mignon, you stuff yourselves with cheap hot dogs. Boring.

mrmwebmax

+

And why no confirmation from you of the correctness of my point that Microsoft has all the profit share in Apple?s litigiousness?

Because 1) it’s irrelevant to Apple’s right to defend its IP, and 2) insignificant given Apple’s earning 55% of the profits of the entire cell phone industry. And however much Microsoft is making from IP licensing—which can’t be anywhere near as much as Apple is making from iPhone—it refutes none of the claims that I and others have made in this thread. It is just another distraction to hopefully make us ignore the fact that your claims don’t hold water, and your responses to counter arguments are non-existent.

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