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Jobs' 'nuclear war' is not doing Apple any good - analyst

Rivals will evade patents with crafty workarounds

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Apple's patent wars will start to hurt shareholders if Apple continues to pursue its lawsuits against Samsung, HTC and Motorola, an analyst has said.

Kevin Rivette, a managing partner at 3LP Advisors LLC, told Bloomberg that even if Apple won its patent battles, it was playing a losing game. Legal fees aside, the "thermonuclear war" that Jobs launched against the Android manufacturers in a fit of rage circa 2009 isn't stamping out Cupertino's competition but the hostility engendered could stop Apple from getting access to new technology it needs.

Lawsuit decisions that go Apple's way don't rid the market of competition, said Rivette, because in most cases the manufacturers will find a workaround which may hamper their devices but doesn't keep them out of the market. For example, after a ban on their tablet device in Germany, Samsung modified the Galaxy Tab, creating a new 10.1 N version that looks likely to be accepted by German courts. The Oz ban on the Samsung gadget has been lifted too.

“A scorched-earth strategy is bad news because it doesn’t optimize the value of their patents -- because people will get around them,” he said. In cases where Apple lose, Rivette argues that the tech titan would have been better off seeking settlements to get its hands on rivals' technologies.

There's no immediate end in sight, though. The past few days have seen Apple's thirst for patents continue unabated, such as the Apple land-grab of fuel cells for mobiles. Meanwhile Samsung is suing Apple for its use of emoticons. ®

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