If Apple (AAPL) ever plans to sue Palm (PALM) over its new, iPhone-lookalike smartphone interface, it hasn’t done so yet. Palm CEO Ed Colligan told an investor conference today that his company has no pending legal actions with Apple, according to a summary by PreCentral.
What does this mean? Not much. Apple might wait a few months — or a few years — to sue Palm. Or Apple might never sue Palm. Or Apple might sue Palm and find out that the iPhone is violating Palm’s patents. Anything’s possible.
Colligan: It’s like two little porcupines going around, and you don’t want to touch each other because you might get stung. You peacefully coexist and everything’s OK and you keep working together. We’re very respectful about people’s intellectual property, we believe we’re huge innovators and have been for a lot of years and that this product has an enormous number of innovations in it. If something does happen there, we do have the portfolio, we think to defend ourselves and to be successful doing that. But nothing’s happened to date, so we’re really just focused on getting the product out the door.
Don’t expect the speculation to end soon, ever since Apple COO Tim Cook talked like a cowboy about Apple’s patents on the company’s last earnings call — “We will not stand for having our IP ripped off. And we will use whatever weapons that we have at our disposal.” Cook didn’t single out Palm, but it’s not a stretch to make the connection.
Meanwhile, Palm’s Colligan suggested that Sprint Nextel (S) will have an exclusive on the forthcoming Pre smartphone until 2010. Why Sprint? One potential reason: A big roster of potential upgraders. There are more Palm OS users on Sprint than any other U.S. carrier, according to Colligan.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that Palm can’t or won’t offer other WebOS-based phones on other carriers this year.