TV-PGMarch 25, 1998: Apple gets hit up for a wad of cash by a small company with a shady past. Meanwhile, Sun dances a little jig due to its early court victory over arch-nemesis Microsoft regarding the issue of contaminated Java, and Apple continues to prove that it has a deep psychological inability to ship a cheap Mac relative to the rest of the industry...
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More Legal Fun (3/25/98)

Just when you thought it was safe to step out of the courtroom, Apple's gone and gotten slapped with another lawsuit. This one isn't just any lawsuit, though; this one's what is technically referred to in legal circles as a "doozy." Apple is being sued for patent infringement by some company named Imatec to the tune of $1.1 billion. That sounds like a ridiculous amount of cash, but the facts are plain as day in a Reuters column.

Imatec claims that Apple infringed on three of their patents in the making of the ColorSync color management software, which, if you were paying attention last week, you know that Apple has just announced will be made cross-platform in the near future. Sounds bad-- but a reader over at Mac OS Rumors provides a little background that puts things in a clearer light. Imatec is apparently a $2.5 million company that has a particularly shady past: they were reportedly busted in '96 for selling stock without registering with the state; they have reportedly never had any income; and they were reportedly buddy-buddy with the investment bank A. S. Goldmen, which was shut down by the federal goverment for fraud. So a $2.5 million medical imaging company that hasn't made any money suddenly files a $1.1 billion lawsuit against Apple for infringements in ColorSync-- when ColorSync has been around for several years now. Sound a little, shall we say, odd?

And in case you were wondering, our legal department informs us that the technical term for this particular type of doozy is "cheesy doozy," which we at AtAT had always assumed was actually a regional puffed-corn cheese-flavored snack popular with junk food mavens in Connecticut and Rhode Island. Just goes to show you how much they manage to cram into your head in law school.

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Conservation of Energy (3/25/98)

Of course, as everyone knows, the principles of Legal Physics dictate that litigious energy is neither created nor destroyed, but simply transferred from suit to suit. And so with the introduction of the scandalous $1.1 billion lawsuit against Apple, there comes a ruling in another case to even things out a little. The case in question is one of the many currently involving Microsoft, whom we suspect is the source of upwards of 35% of the total legal fees collected by lawyers in this country. In a preliminary injunction, Microsoft has been ordered to remove the Java-compatible logo from Internet Explorer and its Software Developer Kit for Java.

You probably remember this case-- Microsoft released IE4 and its Java SDK with a version of Java that doesn't pass Sun's compatibility tests, so Sun sued for breach of contract. The case is far from over, but according to the San Jose Mercury News, Sun execs were "jubilant" about the order. Not only did the judge tell Microsoft to remove the Java-compatible logo from its products pending the final decision, but he also said Microsoft's countersuit arguments against Sun were "without merit."

Scott McNealy, the CEO of Sun and longtime Microsoft basher, has reportedly been seen breaking into spontaneous victory dances while walking down the hall to the water cooler. (Well, okay, not really, but it sure seems likely, doesn't it?)

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Missing the (Price) Point (3/25/98)

Alas, poor Apple-- their tragic flaw is clearly their complete and utter inability to sell a computer at a "low" price point. Unless you've been living in a cave (in particular, a cave without net access), you've heard about Artemis, Apple's upcoming G3-based computer that was long rumored to cost $999 including a 15" monitor. Well, Reality has more details on the new Mac, including a nice photo of the 60 lb. beast. It looks to be a screamer, with a 233 or 266 MHz G3, a minumum 32 MB of RAM, 2 GB hard disk, 24x CD-ROM drive, internal Zip, on-board Ethernet, 3 PCI slots, and build-to-order capabilities. It will reportedly be introduced at the National School Boards Association conference in a little over a week, and it will start shipping by early May at the latest, first into the educational channel only.

Sounds great-- though there's a hitch. There won't be an Artemis selling for $999. The "low-end" 233 MHz model will reportedly cost $1499. Which means that Apple's missing the boat again, by shipping yet another home computer that is priced significantly higher than what home buyers are expecting to pay.

Don't get us wrong-- that's a great price for a fantastic machine. You get a lot for that $1499. But the simple fact of the matter is, one of the fastest growing segments of the market is simply not going to be willing to pay that much for a computer, no matter how fast it is or how many cool features it has; they're going to walk into CompUSA and say, "I need a computer and I have a thousand bucks to spend. What can you show me?" And the majority of the people who will buy an Artemis would likely have paid a little more for a non-all-in-one system with the same capabilities. Still, it looks like a terrific machine for schools (if they can be convinced to spend $1499 on a Mac system instead of, say, $899 for a Wintel), and it may also give Apple some ammo against the likes of Gateway 2000 and Dell, both of whom have complete 333 MHz Pentium II systems available for around $2400. But we really wish Apple would hurry up and jump into the sub-$1000 fray already.

Remember, these are all still rumors, and there's a chance that Apple will sell these extremely capable systems for closer to $1000, but we are not holding our breath. Hey Apple, why not take the Artemis, stick in a 200 MHz 740, rip out the Zip drive, pull out the Ethernet, and try to sell it for $999? It's worth a shot.

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