Palm Testing Apple And It's Lawyers


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I’m not sure what is going on in the minds of the executives of Palm. I can see Palm “trying” the idea of configuring the Pre’s USB presence to fool iTunes into thinking that a Pre plugged into a Windows box or Mac box with iTunes installed is actually an iPod. They tried it, Apple didn’t like it and changed iTunes to not allow the trick. That should have been the end of the story.

Nope, what a surprise, Palm released new OS software to circumvent the adjustments Apple made and now the Pre’s USB port says that it’s an Apple device and an iPod.

In fact Palm seems to think that Apple is violating the Vender ID that Apple was issued by not allowing other companies to take advantage of Apple’s hard work (albeit, the purchase of the iTunes software. Still, they have made significant changes to that software since it was purchased).

“Palm has released webOS 1.1, which, along with offering more robust EAS support for business users, re-enables Palm media sync,” said company spokesperson Lynn Fox. “Palm believes that openness and interoperability offer better experiences for users by allowing them the freedom to use the content they own without interference across devices and services, so on behalf of consumers, we have notified the USB Implementers Forum of what we believe is improper use of the Vendor ID number by another member.” – MacRumors.com

It almost looks like Palm is trying to use it’s user base as a “human shield” for what will inevitably be one heck of a lawsuit in the near future. Hiding behind such well intentioned beliefs is not going to save Palm in the courts. At least it had better not.

Now, Apple has every right to protect its Intellectual Property. The next step will be Apple adjusting iTunes yet again to disallow the Pre from syncing with iTunes. Will the next step after that be Palm updating it’s WebOS to circumvent Apple change again? Or will the next step be Apple sicking it’s bank of lawyers on Pre?

Come to think of it. Isn’t there a law, something like the DMCA that should protect Apple from such attacks to it’s IP? Well, in fact, it’s “strictly prohibited” by the USB Implementers Forum for a start.

When you apply for a USB Vendor ID, you sign a form that explicitly states that:

“Unauthorized use of assigned or unassigned USB Vendor ID Numbers and associated Product ID Numbers are strictly prohibited.” – Also from MacRumors.com

Who knows what the future holds here, but I can say that I hope it’s resolved soon. I really don’t like the idea of installing several iTunes updates a month just because Palm is too damn lazy to write it’s own software for syncing music with it’s newest device.