January 23, 2009, 2:38 PM — So, during this year's Macworld Expo, I mostly ignored the biggest story out of CES, which was Palm's introduction of the new Pre phone because, you know, eh. It looks very nice, and I'm sure it will help revive Palm's fortunes. Yes, it's very iPhone-y, but frankly since the iPhone pretty much defined a new standard for smartphones, it's to be expected that new smartphones are going to look more and more like the iPhone from here on out. Competition is good, and all that.
Except maybe Apple doesn't feel that way? During Wednesday's earnings call, COO Tim Cook answered a more or less innocent question about the new phone and its multitouch interface with a rather huffy diatribe about Apple's many iPhone-related patents. "We will not stand for having our IP ripped off," he said, though he then followed up with "I don't want to talk about any specific company" (so why'd ya say it in response to a question about Palm, Tim?).
Palm laughed off the prospect of such a legal challenge, and perhaps with good reason. "Palm has a long history of innovation that is reflected in our products and robust patent portfolio, and we have long been recognized for our fundamental patents in the mobile space," said a Palm spokesperson. Since Palm was one of the very first PDA companies, and knowing how tech patents work, presumably Palm has patented virtually every possible aspect of an electronic dealie you hold in your hand and can thus defend itself easily enough. Still, this could well be a popcorn-worthy struggle.