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Now that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) has been officially awarded a patent for the multitouch technology governing the iPhone and iPad, intellectual-property experts are taking to the media to warn of dire consequences for competing smartphone makers.

Open-source and intellectual-property activist Florian Mueller, who Fools may remember was a key opponent of Oracle's (Nasdaq: ORCL) acquisition of MySQL, told PC Magazine that Apple's multitouch patent is so broad as to make it difficult to "build a competitive smartphone." Maybe, but don't we also have to concede that peers have had trouble competing with the iPhone for a while now? Since Day One, Apple's iCandy has been gobbling market share like Pac Man gobbles pellets.

Mueller further suggested that, unless courts invalidate the patent, Apple would have free rein to bully competitors and stifle innovation. Too harsh, you say? Perhaps, but we've seen Apple play patent hardball in years past.

Last March, the Mac maker sued fast-growing HTC over what it said were violations of its iPhone innovations. Apple has also accused Palm of copying its designs and taken legal action against Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI) and Nokia (NYSE: NOK). There's enough history here to take Mueller's concerns at face value.

Less clear is whether investors should be concerned about a new round of patent litigation. So, we're asking. Are you concerned? If so, why? If not, why not? Please vote in the poll below and then leave a comment to tell us what you think about the implications of Apple's multitouch patent.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Oracle at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

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