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Smartphone Trash Talk Heats Up Between Apple, Palm

Recent comments made by Apple's acting CEO in the company's quarterly earnings call suggest that the Palm Pre is squarely in the crosshairs of Apple's patent lawyers.

In a Q&A during Apple's Q1 earnings call earlier this week, an analyst asked Tim Cook, acting Apple CEO, to comment on the similarities of the touch functionality of the Palm Pre and iPhone. Although he didn't mention Palm by name, Cook's sharp response suggested that he'd been thinking along the same lines.

"We like competition, as long as they don't rip off our IP, and if they do, we're going to go after anybody that does," Cook said in the call. "We will not stand for having our IP ripped off and we'll use whatever weapons we have at our disposal [to prevent that from happening]."

Palm unveiled the Pre at CES, and plans to launch it sometime in the first half of the year exclusively on the Sprint network. The Pre has a touch-screen display, GPS and Wi-Fi, but it also comes with a 3.1-megapixel camera, compared to the iPhone's 2-megapixel camera.

Pricing hasn't been announced, but according to gadget blog Gizmodo, will be in the $149 to $399 range. While other supposed iPhone killers like the BlackBerry Storm haven't panned out, some industry experts believe the Pre could present a genuine challenge to the iPhone's U.S. smartphone market dominance.

Palm also has a deep patent portfolio and isn't worried about any potential legal battles with Apple, spokesperson Lynn Fox told the blog All Things Digital on Friday. "If faced with legal action, we are confident that we have the tools necessary to defend ourselves," Fox said.

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