In 1996, in Bob Cringely's documentary Triumph of the Nerds, Steve Jobs said:
Picasso had a saying, he said "good artists copy, great artists steal". We have, you know, always been shameless about stealing great ideas.
Here's the video:
Today, Apple's press release says:
“We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”
Apple has suffered through many patent trolls over the years, and should understand how software patents limit innovation, indeed their consistent position on supporting Open Source Codecs in HTML5 has been that they are afraid of patent lawsuits. So this action can only be seen as an attack on innovation.