New Patent Could Allow Apple to Demand High Licensing Fees From Other OS Developers

An iPhone patent that Apple filed for over three-years ago could spell trouble for other multitouch mobile OS developers. Apple was awarded patent number 7,966,578, for a “Portable multifunction device, method, and graphical user interface for translating displayed content.” Basically, depending on how the entire patent is interpreted, Apple could have control over all capacitive screen and multitouch interface devices. The same interface commonly used by other smartphone manufacturers and Android devices.

Patent expert Florian Muller told MacWorld “In the smartphone patent wars no other company seeks to drive competitors out of business the way Apple does. The only way companies can deal with Apple is if they bring patents to the table that Apple needs. In that case, there can be a cross-license. If you don’t have that bargaining power, tough luck.”

Muller said that Apple could now have the power to demand licensing fees from other companies like HTC, Samsung and Motorolo.

Another patent expert told PCMag that unless the patent is invalidated that Apple could use it to “stifle innovation and bully competitors.”

Matt Schruers, the vice president for law and policy with the non-profit Computer and Communications Industry Association added that the patent is so “broad,” that it would be difficult for companies to find a different technological approach to get around it.

There is a glimmer of hope for other smartphone competitors, it’s possible that Apple could only use the patent when applied directly to the iPhone. However, it could still create problems for these touchscreen device manufacturers.