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Apple has for long been waging an endless war with Android handset makers in its bid to dominate the smartphone industry. The filing of patent lawsuits has actually helped its rivals - Samsung, HTC and Motorola - to come up with more innovative product designs. Unfortunately, this has left Apple behind in the technology race.

No doubt, Apple has the power of 17,000 software patents to wield against its hapless rivals. However, a minor design change or workaround could allow its rivals to break free from copyright restrictions and patent lawsuits.

According to Kevin Rivette of 3LP Advisors, Apple stands to gain big time in terms of revenue and strategic insight into rival camps innovations if it chose to wisely strike an exchange deal with its rivals. The company could sell its cosmetic design technology and receive licensing royalties in bargain.

Most of Apple's patents center around the look, feel and design aspects of the product. It becomes easier for the rivals to device a workaround and break free of the shackles with copyright restrictions. And the Cupertino company would be in no position to secure a permanent ban on its rival products, let alone pose any serious threat to cripple their market growth.

The war of attrition against Android platform was initiated by Steve Jobs, the co-founder and former CEO of the company in his heydays.

However, Apple never seriously challenged Microsoft over the Windows copycat design that borrowed ideas from Mac. How could one forget the identical looks of Windows Vista home screen, the sidebars and widget feature stolen directly out of Mac OS X Tiger?

As with the popular belief, a lion can never challenge another lion in its own den. It is the smaller, vulnerable companies that face the threat more often than not.

However, the smartphone market has overrun so much that there is no single outright winner amidst the cut-throat competition. As a result, even the smaller companies are prepared to face the legal battle with their own set of countersuits and workarounds. For example, we could take a leaf out of the patent war between Samsung and Apple and now the focus has shifted to Google versus Apple Android patent war.

Maybe, tomorrow there will be someone else to challenge Apple and give a taste of their own medicine. When the stakes are high for patent claims, nobody would just surrender and the legal battle might ensue for years to come. Rather, it would be a win-win result if both parties resolved the issue amicably and focused on making technological innovations, which would be the key to their success.