Apple’s legal chief joins ski resort board

By , Jan 14, 2013

sewell

Who knew Apple’s legal honcho was also a ski bum? Bruce Sewell, the iPhone maker’s General Counsel and Senior Vice President, becomes the latest Apple executive to join an outside board of directors.

In Sewell’s case, he was named Monday to a chain of ski resorts, Vail Resorts, Inc. Trust me, we were flabbergasted as well.

Sewell, described as a “lifelong skier” who also participated in ski patrols between college and law school, is likely more known for his legal expertise away from the slopes. After losing in a dust-up between Intel and AMD, he joined Apple, where he made real Steve Jobs’ call for ‘thermonuclear war’ against Google’s Android…

According to a statement, Sewell will also serve on the ski resort firm’s audit committee.

“We are thrilled to have someone of Bruce’s caliber and extensive experience join our board,” chairman and CEO Rob Katz said.

Mr. Sewell is a lifelong skier. Between college and law school, he toured the country skiing in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, and worked as a professional ski patroller at Windham and Hunter Mountains in New York.

The ski resort firm’s subsidiaries operate the mountain resorts of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan; and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

RockResorts, another subsidiary, operates a luxury resort hotel company and manages “casually elegant” properties.

Sewell presided over his team’s $1 billion court win against Samsung, where a California federal jury ruled the South Korean firm had infringed upon several Apple patents.

In that instance, Sewell and his chief litigator Noreen Krall, teamed up to file an enormous number of patent infringement lawsuits against Samsung and other competitors. Since 2010, Sewell had filed “dozens” of lawsuits against rivals, comprising 60 percent of all mobile patent lawsuits, Bloomberg reported in 2012.

ios vs android

Late Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs may have fueled Sewell’s passion for patent litigation. In a 2012 biography, Jobs denounced Android, telling author Walter Isaacson that he’d spend his last dime to fight a “nuclear war” against Google’s mobile operating system.

Turns out, Apple has spent at least $100 million in the crusade.

But Sewell hasn’t won every legal encounter. In 2009, he left Intel under a cloud after the chipmaker lost an antitrust lawsuit filed by AMD. Sewell is just the latest Apple executive to lend his name to the board of a company.

In November of 2012, Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue joined Ferrari’s board of directors. Matter of fact, Cue was a longtime fan of the Italian automaker. Then there is Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has been a member of Nike’s board since 2005.

It is unclear what a company gains by adding an Apple exec to its board. In Sewell’s case, anyone considering suing the local ski chalet for injuries on the slopes might want to think again.

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