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Will Apple Copycat Pandora?

Stocks in this article: AAPLP

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The rumor that Apple (AAPL) is thinking about copying Pandora (P) raises interesting story angles.

After digesting the news, I came up with five:

1. Patents

The other day, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban went on CNBC and, as usual, made a ton of sense.

Cuban said that if he was Apple CEO, he would not sue Samsung over patents. Cuban contends software patents either should not exist or be subject to time limits. While he doesn't blame Apple for working the system, he finds it funny that companies stake claim to things like drop-down menus and rounded corners.

Pandora's co-founders patented the Music Genome Project. I have seen Pandora's music analysts work with it. If anything deserves a patent, this thing does. Believe me, every other attempt at "personalization" out there is little more than a cheap knock-off.

Apple does not know Pandora's trade secrets. As such, it could never duplicate the platform with any type of exactness, let alone effectiveness. Tim Westergren is a music geek's geek. Analysts go through seven insanely detailed pages to rate each song Pandora spins on myriad attributes that only hardcore musicians or Ph.D's in musicology could begin to follow.

In a nutshell, if Apple does something "Pandora-like," it will not only be relatively simplistic, but incredibly ironic, given what just went down in court with Samsung.

2. No Steve Jobs, No Innovation?

This leads to the obvious question that makes AAPL bulls defensive and uneasy: Can Apple still innovate without Steve Jobs?

Steve Jobs referred to 2011 as "The Year of the Copycats." Tim Westergren could get on stage today and use the same exact script, but replace "tablet" and "iPad" with "personalized radio" and be absolutely spot on the money. It would be a sad day if he had to include an Apple logo on his slide.

First, the mini iPad, assuming it happens. Next, a Pandora knock-off by Apple, assuming The Wall Street Journal got it right. Read: scary trend. Apple is not the same company it was in 2011. And that's not a good thing.

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