Apple’s top intellectual property lawyer leaves, reports say

Posted on Jul 13 2011 - 10:16pm by Robert

Apple’s chief patent lawyer is leaving the company amidst a number of legal battles, according to a report by Reuters.

According to the sources of Reuters, Richard “Chip” Lutton Jr. is expected to depart Apple next month, but it is still a mystery why he’s leaving. BJ Wastrous, Hewlett Packard’s chief of intellectual property and licensing, is reported to replace Lutton and is now listed as Apple’s vice president and chief intellectual property counsel in his LinkedIn page.

Patent litigation is a strategy used by electronics and tech companies, as patents can prevent competitors from using functionalities of their devices. Patents can also make rivals pay for licensing fees.

“It’s possible that Apple’s leadership wants the patent department to become more effective, especially in terms of litigation,” said intellectual property specialist Florian Mueller. “They are probably disappointed that the first ITC complaint against HTC didn’t go too well,” he added.

Mueller also said that Apple probably wanted more results from its lawsuit against Android smartphone manufacturers.

Apple is currently seeking an injunction on Samsung’s Galaxy lineup, claiming that the South Korean tech company copied the look and feel of Apple iPad and iPhones.

The company recently joined up with EMC, Sony, Ericsson, Research in Motion and Microsoft to stop Google from getting 6,000 patents from Nortel.

“Running Apple’s patent department is probably one of the most demanding jobs in the field of intellectual property,” added Mueller. “Apple has recently started a number of lawsuits and may initiate several more. It’s also sought out by patent trolls all the time.”



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