Apple’s business strategy includes software and hardware innovations, intuitive user experiences, and attractive product design that is catnip to the creative set. But another arrow in Apple’s quiver is the hard-fought intellectual property lawsuit. Let’s get into this week’s Tech Time Warp.
One Apple lawsuit that ultimately proved most advantageous was filed on Dec. 6, 1994, against the San Francisco Canyon Company. Apple had contracted with the company in 1992 to make its successful Quicktime video player compatible with Windows. San Francisco Canyon Company did good work, leading Intel to hire the company for assistance with its own video player. When Intel partnered with Microsoft to release a new-and-improved Video for Windows in 1993, Apple was none too pleased to discover it contained some of the code the San Francisco Canyon Company had developed for Quicktime.
Apple went to court against the San Francisco Canyon Company and in 1995 added Intel and Microsoft to the lawsuit. In March 1995, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order restricting distribution of certain components of Video for Windows. The case was settled in 1997 in a wide-ranging deal that made Internet Explorer the default browser on Macs, required Microsoft to develop Office and other products for Macs for at least another five years, and, perhaps most consequentially, forced Microsoft to buy $150 million in shares of Apple stock. Some think this was simply the first payment in an overall settlement of up to $1 billion. Regardless of the amount, the infusion of cash gave Steve Jobs—who had returned to Apple just six months prior—the necessary resources to right the ship and turn Apple into world’s most valuable company.
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