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Elmer-DeWitt: Apple in "no hurry" to settle iPhone patent lawsuits


To Apple-watchers -- in particular tech bloggers -- it seems like Apple is taking forever to settle the lawsuits that are pending against Samsung and other smartphone manufacturers for allegedly infringing on the company's intellectual property. On Fortune's Apple 2.0 site today, long-time Apple analyst Philip Elmer-DeWitt explains why a slow, measured march through the patent courts of the world might work out to the company's advantage.

Elmer-DeWitt cites a recent analysis by Deutsche Bank's Chris Whitmore that outlines four possible outcomes to Apple's legal attack against the Android ecosystem:

  1. A settlement, with a per-unit license fee paid to Apple;
  2. a "more favorable outcome" where Apple is able to have certain features removed from Android handset or can limit the distribution of Android phones, resulting in capturing 25 percent of Android's future market share;
  3. neutral with no winner; and
  4. Apple loses and must pay a counter claim to Android manufacturers.

As Elmer-DeWitt notes, Whitmore apparently doesn't think outcomes 3 and 4 are very likely, as he spends the majority of his analysis trying to figure out just how much Apple could reap from the first two outcomes.

Whitmore thinks that a license fee could cost competitors about US$10 per handset, which would add about $35 to the value of each share of Apple stock. However, if Apple holds out and fights for outcome 2, it could easily a growth in share price closer to $260 per share.

That's why Whitmore believes that "Apple is unlikely to settle cheaply." His advice to investors? Hold tight and let the legal drama play out, as investors are "gaining exposure to a potentially very lucrative favorable IP outcome for little or no cost."

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