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If Apple wins its patent-infringement case against the Google Nexus One smartphone, it might be able to get all existing handsets bricked or crippled. It's not a far-fetched idea, a Harvard Law professor told the New York Times Bits blog.

After all, EchoStar was ordered to remotely destroy DVR functionality in its satellite TV boxes after losing a patent case to TiVo. "If the court were to side with Apple and issue an injunction that insists [Google's manufacturer] HTC kill the phone, or at least some of its functionality, they easily could," Prof. Jonathan Zittrain told Bits. Still, most lawyers seem to think the case will be settled. Settled, that is, if Apple CEO Steve Jobs can be persuaded to arrive at one of those compromises the perfectionist so famously dislikes.