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Kevin Rivette, managing partner at intellectual property firm 3LP Advisors LLC, said in an interview with Bloomberg that he believes Apple could probably collect up to $10 in royalties for every Android device sold. That would be twice the $5 per unit Microsoft is believed to receive for each HTC Android device sold.
But Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs indicated before he died to biographer Walter Isaacson that he had no interest in licensing Apple's patented technology to Android manufacturers. Jobs said he believed Android was a "stolen product," and indicated he was "willing to go thermonuclear war" to stop it.
That aggressive approach could be detrimental to Apple shareholders, Rivette believes, because it is prompting device makers to modify their infringing products and work around Apple's intellectual property. Instead, Rivette thinks Apple should reach settlements in cases where it can't win import restrictions against competing devices.
"A scorched-earth strategy is bad news because it doesn't optimize the value of their patents — because people will get around them," Rivette told Bloomberg.
"It's like a dam. Using their patents to keep rivals out is like putting rocks in a stream. The stream is going to find a way around. Wouldn't it be better to direct where the water goes?"
Evidence of how Android smartphone makers will work around Apple's intellectual property has come in a few cases already. Earlier this month, the U.S. International Trade Commission found that HTC was in violation of an Apple patent related to "Data Detectors," but only a day later HTC said it was testing new devices that work around Apple's patent. As a result, the ITC's ruling is not expected to have an immediate impact on either HTC or Apple.
Similarly, after Apple found legal success with its patented iPhone and iPad designs in Germany, Samsung opted to redesign its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet with thicker edges and speakers that accompany the front screen. With those changes, it is not expected that Apple will win a ban on sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1N in Germany.
While Apple has opted to sue, Microsoft has forged licensing agreements with more than half of Android device makers. The Redmond, Wash., software giant has agreements in place with Samsung, HTC, Acer and Viewsonic, while lawsuits against Motorola Mobility, Barnes & Noble and others continue.