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Friday, March 5 12:00 AM ET

Apple Files Lawsuit Against Estate of Alexander Graham Bell

By Brian Briggs follow me on Twitter or Buzz.

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Cupertino, CA - Apple Inc. has filed a lawsuit against the estate of famed inventor Alexander Graham Bell claiming the telephone "invented" by Bell violated several patents held by Apple. The company expects to recover all revenue generate by phone sales over the past 134 years.

An Apple lawyer, who wishes to keep his job, said that the lawsuit was filed at the "personal request of Steve Jobs" who felt aggrieved by the fact that Bell was given credit for inventing the telephone when obviously it was Jobs.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of a suit filed against mobile phone manufacturer HTC, but is much broader in scope, and if Apple wins could mean that all phone manufacturers would have to get permission from Apple to build phones or be stopped entirely at the whim of Apple.

Industry watchers put the odds of success of the new Apple lawsuit at 60% given recent rulings on intellectual property around the world. "It's ridiculous, but I've seen crazier rulings," said IP lawyer Vern Hempskill. "Back in 2003, in the McDonald's vs. McDonalds case a judge ruled that all person with the last name McDonald had to pay McDonald's $35,000 or change their name. That was overturned on appeal, but it did have a lot of people worried."

In past interviews Jobs has said, "I don't know why people think Bell invented the phone. Clearly, they've been deluded into thinking that phones existed before the iPhone."

Tom Farmer, a mobile phone analyst at Merrill Lynch and fan of J. R. R. Tolkien, said, "Jobs is hoping to make the iPhone, the one phone to rule them all and in the darkness bind them."

The lawsuit could have far-reaching implications even outside of the technology sector. When asked how he felt about the lawsuit, former baseball player and manager "Buddy" Bell said, "I don't know anything about it, but it sounds pretty ridiculous to me."

Apple's stock was up on the news.

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