U.S. Army Visits Apple HQ to Discuss Military Devices

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The U.S. Army sent representative officers to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, CA to, “discuss the use of Apple products in Army business and battlefield operations.” According to a post at the Army’s Web site, the military respects Apple’s technology and products, and is looking to find ways to leverage commercially available technology for its soldiers in the battlefield.

“Apple technologies offer unique and proven solutions with intuitive designs that allow users to learn quickly without a training manual,” Ron Szymanski, CERDEC’s lead computer scientist for the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), said in a statement. “The Army would like to leverage Apple’s experience when designing military applications.”

More specifically, the Army said it was evaluating the use of the iPad, iPhone, iPod, iMac, and MacBook platforms in a military capacity.

“The Army is moving away from big-green-box solutions and toward those that will adapt along with our warfighters on the battlefield,” Maj. Gen. Nick Justice of RDECOM said. “We’re continuing to leverage commercial technology for battlefield uses; we can’t ignore that kind of existing knowledge. Our job, as stewards of the taxpayer’s dollar, is to adopt and adapt appropriate commercial technology and offer the best possible solution to the warfighter.”

More praise was sent Apple’s way by Dr. Gerardo J. Melendez, director of Command and Control Directorate (CERDEC), a division within RDECOM, who said, “As we push to develop more commercial capabilities to meet Army information and knowledge management needs, it’s important that we engage companies such as Apple because we stand to benefit just as much from their lessons learned and best practices.”

He added that the Army could realize cost savings by not always re-inventing the wheel by turning to some of the advanced commercial technology being developed by American technology companies.

An attorney contacted by The Mac Observer noted that above and beyond the potential for Apple to secure lucrative contracts with the U.S. military for developing devices or specializing existing devices for the military’s use, offers other possible benefits to Apple.

“If Apple can secure a military contract and the military declares Apple’s device to be essential to U.S. security, the DOJ [could choose to] intervene in the Nokia v. Apple case as an interested party and move the court to stay any adverse ruling against Apple that adversely affects national security and/or move for an order directing Nokia to license the essential technologies on what would be essentially Fair, Reasonable and Non Discriminatory (FRAND) terms, at least for the military’s mobile devices.”

All of which may be putting the horse before the cart, as this was just one meeting between the Army and Apple that is being discussed. That said, the Army added that the meeting ended with plans for future technical discussions between the two organizations.

Thanks to AppleInsider for the heads up on the Army’s announcement.

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Comments

MacGnome

Interesting. 

What will the hippy-enviro-passivist-pseudo-intellectual wing of Apple Inc think, now that the US Army is going to use Apple products to wage war? 

Will these Apple fanatics start seeing Apple as another evil corporation making profit from dead and destruction?

Is Apple going to become another Halliburton?

The drama begins.

Nemo

I too am much concerned about the effect that a prolonged period as a military contractor would have on Apple’s culture.

I also agree with Chaffin’s qualification of the idea that Apple could benefit from being a military contractor in any of its various IP lawsuits as either a defendant or plaintiff.  Apple would first have to have a military contract where it is providing a product that meets the high standard of being essential to the nation’s security, before the DOJ would have standing to intervene in a private lawsuit and would consider doing so.  And the court would, even on a showing that national security is at stake, use its full power as a court of equity to fashion a remedy that fully protected and placed the least burden on a party’s private IP rights, while balancing that against the needs of national security. 

Though Psystar and its ilk like the idea of forcing a party to license its IP, and forcing such licensing for much less than the IP is worth, the federal courts have limited authority to force licensing of IP, even were arguably the royalty for the license is fairly priced.  Only where competition is precluded or at least materially hindered or where national security required it would a district court force a party to license its IP, be it a copyrighted work or a patented invention, and even then only burdening and diminishing the value of any royalty only so far as is necessary to permit meaningful competition or, as the case may be, to protect national security.  Absent such extraordinary circumstances, IP rights are constitutional protected property rights, and the federal district courts may not force a party to license its IP rights.

So Bosco will be happy to hear that Apple will have to defend itself from claims of infringement on the merits.  However, the corollary is that Apple will also be able to fully assert its IP rights and expect the courts to enforce its rights on the merits.

Lomoco

Reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLbJ8YPHwXM

FlipFriddle

Apple becoming Haliburton? A little dramatic wouldn’t you say?
There’s already a sniper app on the iTunes store called BulletFlight that’s been widely publicized and praised. I’m sure this fits in with some DoD mandate to try and use mass produced tech to lower acquisition and support costs. Training costs would be minimal as well because the users would already know how to use an iPod Touch in many cases.

zewazir

The military has been using Apple products for decades. In the 80s the Army had Apple IIc computers in specially designed “hazard boxes” by the bag full with custom software doing everything from unit BEL and PEL databases to electronic situation maps. I got to play with with the sitmap software myself in AIT, though by that time the army was in process of shifting over to cheap DOS clones. I was never able to actually use one in the field because it needed too big a generator to run.  The computer was in our BEL, but not the generator.

In short, nothing new here, folks.

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