Well that didn’t go as planned: Palm gets spanked by USB Implementers Forum over “borrowing” of Apple USB Vendor ID

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by Mike
Posted September 23rd, 2009 at 5:23 am

Remember the small saga that has been going back forth between Apple, Palm, the Pre, and iTunes? The whole Pre/iTunes syncing issue has been bantered back and forth by the two companies with each successive software update enabling/disabling one of the Pre’s most highly talked about launch features. Apple of course doesn’t like Palm hiding behind a mask, or in this case falsely identifying their device with Apple’s own USB vendor ID. Palm on the other hand has abysmal music syncing software and knows it, hence the vendor ID trickery with iTunes.

Apple’s heavy hand cause Palm to run crying to the USB Implementers Forum (IF) with a letter of disapproval. They claim that Apple is stifling innovation by misusing the USB standard to prevent forward thinking technologies and instead control current ones. However, the response they received from the USB-IF is hardly what they were expecting I’m sure. It goes on saying:

… Your letter also states that:

“Palm will shortly issue an update of its WebOS operating system that uses Apple’s Vendor ID number for the sole purpose of restoring the Palm media sync functionality.”

I attach for your information the USB-IF’s adopted and published policy regarding Vendor Identification Numbers (VIDs). Under the Policy, Palm may only use the single Vendor ID issued to Palm for Palm’s usage. Usage of any other company’s Vendor ID is specifically precluded. Palm’s expressed intent to use Apple’s VID appears to violate the attached policy.

Please clarify Palm’s intent and respond to this potential violation within seven days.

First it wipes Apple’s guilty slate clean by saying they’re using their vendor ID well within the USB-IF Membership Agreement’s limits. However, it blatantly calls out Palm for falsely using another manufacturer’s vendor ID, which as you can probably tell by now is a big no-no. Palm is no doubt caught between a rock and a hard place. Without the iTunes sync, the Pre loses one of it’s most touted features. Though, if they continue with the cat and mouse game, they risk a lawsuit of epic proportions, one that they absolutely can’t afford I might add. Palm has responded saying…

…we engaged with the USB-IF because we believe consumers should have freedom and choice in how and where they use the non-rights managed media they already own. We are reviewing the letter from the USB-IF and will respond as appropriate.

Which is PR fluffed laden speech for “oh hell, we’re f’ed”. As they take time to formulate their response, we the nosy geek will sit anxiously awaiting the next move in this heated game. The next several weeks will certainly be interesting. While on one hand, I would love other devices to have iTunes syncing ability, going against previously agreed upon rules and such is kind of shady if you ask me. Your take?

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