SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 18: The Apple logo is displayed on the exterior of an Apple retail store on January 18, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Apple will release first quarter earnings one day after CEO Steve Jobs announced that he will be taking an medical leave of absence. Apple stock fell less than 3 percent after the announcement was made of his leave. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Is Apple going to acquire a smartpen company, and if so, which one?
Apple's new digital pen patent seems eerily familiar, and it doesn't help that the inventor of the new Apple smartpen pointed out similarities to an existing smartpen from Oakland's Livescribe, a company that licenses several patents to create $100 smartpens sold in Apple stores.
A Livescribe spokeswoman expressed surprise at the idea that Apple might buy the smartpen company and told Press: Here that she wasn't aware of any impending acquisition or partnership. But while many would consider Livescribe the likely candidate for acquisition, since the two companies seem to co-exist nicely in Apple stores, Livescribe doesn't own most of the digital pen technologies it uses. Instead the company licenses them from the Swedish company Anoto Group AB.
"Apple can file for however many patents they want to file, but we have hundreds of very strong patents," Pietro Parravicini, chief executive of Anoto, Inc., the American arm of Anoto Group AB, told Press: Here. "I don't know what Apple's up to, but I hope they have done their patent due diligence."
Parravicini, who's based in Westborough, Mass., confirmed that Livescribe uses Anoto's digital patents and is working with Apple on Mac projects, but hasn't heard anything about an acquisition. However, he said that Apple's new digital pen patent only "validates the industry" and creates more interest.
An Apple spokeswoman told Press:Here the company declined to comment on both the new patent and a possible acquisition..
The Livescribe Pulse Smartpen comes with a tiny infrared camera that captures images of what's written down and records and syncs audio with whatever you write. Apple's smartpen will be capable of storing the recorded audio and visual data locally and transfer data via a USB connection, according to Patently Apple.
Parravicini also said he isn't worried about Apple's new patent. "At the end of the day, our patent portfolio will prevail," he said.