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Apple Sues HTC For Patent Infringement: Who Is Next?

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News Posted: Tue, Mar 2 2010 11:50 AM
This story is just now breaking, with developments still filtering in. Rather than introducing new MacBook Pro refreshes or doing something else that Apple typically does on Tuesday mornings, the Cupertino-based company unleashed a bombshell on HTC and the entire smartphone sector just hours ago.

Apple just filed a lawsuit against HTC, which is the same company responsible for creating the HD2, Droid Eris and the Google-branded Nexus One. In other words, this is no minor deal. Apple and HTC are two of the biggest faces in the smartphone world right now, and both have enormous amounts of pull in the industry. Many analysts have suggested that Apple's iPhone interface has at least been mimicked by a number of competitors, which makes this scenario all the more interesting. Why now? Why sue HTC and not someone else? Is Apple feeling threatened by HTC? Surely Apple knew about this infringement before today, so why all of the hostility now?



In a rather unusual moment, even Apple's CEO Steve Jobs stepped up to the plate to comment publicly on the matter:

"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."

Few other details are out yet, but it's clear that the lawsuit was for HTC for infringing on 20 Apple patents related to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware. Apple filed concurrently with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and in U.S. District Court in Delaware.

We highly doubt this is the last we'll hear of this. In fact, we suspect every other smartphone/mobile OS maker out there is wondering if they're next. Lots of things look at least somewhat like the iPhone's OS, so where will the line be drawn? Only time will tell.


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I'm surprised someone didn't sue Apple over this earlier. There are lots of smartphones that came out before the iPhone that look sorta the same. Sue Apple for stealing peoples 'look'.

Rubbish, this is why I dislike Apple. Horrid company.

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rapid1 replied on Tue, Mar 2 2010 12:29 PM

Hmmm; Apple must be feeling some sales dropping, this also may be because there much beloved (not), about to be released feminine hygiene product. Either way in this platform with it's obvious limitations saying your interface is similar to anything is in many cases a moot point. To pack everything into this small amount of screen real estate things are going to look somewhat similar, on anything.

I think the other smart phones especially the Android platform are taking a noticeable market share from apple, so they are clawing back. However unless some of the similarities in the lawsuit are much, much more direct points or invasion of an IP Apple has no room to stand. To tell you the truth other than the matching platform face (A smart phone display), and the similar things it needs to be able to accomplish, I don't really see a lot of similarity personally.

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rapid1 replied on Tue, Mar 2 2010 12:42 PM

I agree with you infinity, Apple in many cases although innovative in some things, generally is last generation if not further back. The proprietary business model in general has been gone in other manufacturers, unless in specialized equipment areas for quite some time. However; the only room Apple in many cases by there own design, and or the short fallings of it has to stand on, will be and is the boutique OEM model.

For some reason (as is demonstrated by children as well as adults with a lesser degree of self identity), they are looked at as a separating or specialized platform. While there OS on the computer side of things is really all that separates them from anyone period. On the smart phone side of things I am sure if they wanted to waste the money many (Blackberry, Palm, Windows mobile) departments could sue them as well.

In many cases the return on the cost of the law suit's especially against other large companies who have legal teams in place is minimal at best. So while this may gain them something monetarily as well as patent/IP strength wise. I think that on this platform the gain if any will be very minimal. I can see more than 5 differences just by glancing at the 2 screens in placement etc, either way a mobile internet enable product automatically has all these similarities by default.

I think Apple is showing there teeth more so to slow down innovation by other producers of similar equipment. This would therefore gain them some time, because right now other companies are catching up and some (HTC) specifically is catching up faster than others. So if you scare the largest pack member the other wolves will back off momentarily. However; they are still wolves so they may circle, but they will not leave unless you actually cause fear, I don't think that's going to happen in the current climate.

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3vi1 replied on Tue, Mar 2 2010 1:03 PM

Only maybe one or two of these patents strike me as potentially non-obvious, and those couple may have a lot of prior art.

Some of these fall into the outright stupid category:

#'076 “Automated Response To And Sensing Of User Activity In Portable Devices,” - Really?!?? I guess no portable device is allowed to have input controls or run software now.

#'453 “Conserving Power By Reducing Voltage Supplied To An Instruction-Processing Portion Of A Processor,” - Wasn't this available in desktop processors for like a decade before Apple's patent?

#'849 “Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image,” - Sure Apple, no one else had ever displayed a keypad on a touch screen and unlocked anything via a gesture of pressing the buttons or sliding a slider PRIOR TO FEBRUARY 2, 2010 (when it was patented). I suppose I can patent "Unlocking a device By performing gestures on a keyboard" and that will be just as valid.

#'599 “Object-Oriented Graphic System,” - All your GUIs are belong to us.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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3vi1 replied on Tue, Mar 2 2010 1:12 PM

I think I know why Apple did this: They're getting HTC to pay for all the patents they should have licensed from Nokia.

What's hilarious is that Nokia's been suing Apple over Nokia's patents for pretty much the same type of things Apples suing HTC over: UI, power mangement, etc. It would be funny if Nokia wins and Apple patents get invalidated. If HTC already licensed similar patents from Nokia, Apple could find their patents revoked even faster.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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#'453 “Conserving Power By Reducing Voltage Supplied To An Instruction-Processing Portion Of A Processor,”

Now that is just funny. If I was Samsung, I would sue the piss out of Apple over that (Samsung makes the Processor in the iPhone) since their basicly saying Samsung's IP is actually theirs.

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Hey some one has to pay for their ipad debt :D lol

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“We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."

LOL, if that is not the pot calling the kettle black!! Lousy apple!

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Kasel23 replied on Tue, Mar 2 2010 4:45 PM

The reasons to not buy Apple are really piling up lately.

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JoelB replied on Tue, Mar 2 2010 6:18 PM

Reason #191 why the patent system needs to be reformed...

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Xylem replied on Tue, Mar 2 2010 11:47 PM

Like I said Earlier as well, on iPODs topic, Apple is really starting to dig their own grave lately. Apple should be fined just like Intel has to cough up Billions to AMD.

There is so much insecurity in whatever they are doing. They have lost the old charm!!

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^All of you guys would make excellent prospective jurors, IMO!Big Smile

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rapid1 replied on Wed, Mar 3 2010 4:13 PM

I would love to be a juror Super Dave. Most if not all of these patents are owned by others at the best as well as Apple. I also love many of the points in this conversation. The Nokia beating Apple and therefore invalidation there patents as well as the Samsung comment almost crack me up. Apple in most cases a USER trying to say other things are theirs and or take credit for other peoples development. I am not saying they deserve no credit here either, but there development to a large degree exists by taking others ideas and making them there's (Kind of like having a proprietary computer which uses the same devices as a regular PC, but making the driver classify it as Apple, or a device with absolutely no R&D costs on the hardware side (except of course branding), but actually no different from what works in any PC.

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Companies need to stop suing each other and innovate already...

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3vi1 replied on Wed, Mar 3 2010 10:55 PM

Hehe... I'd love to be on such a jury, but I'm quite sure I'd never make it past the prosecutions jury research, given... oh... everything I've ever written about patents and IP here. lol

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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I've always liked Apple for its outside the box thinking and innovation. But some of these suits Apple comes up with are a bit ridiculous. So they came out with the I-Phone interface. So what, now nobody else can have a touch screen phone that can do a bunch of things? These types of lawsuits from Apple goes back to the original Mac days in the mid 80's, when they sued Microsoft for stealing Windows (which was actually somewhat a legitimate gripe in my opinion). But that suit included things like a mouse click, and double-clicks. They tried to patten just pushing a button! Ridiculous.

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Super Dave replied on Wed, Mar 10 2010 12:53 PM

Apple is a litigation bully. Some more good reading HERE.

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and I quote from steve jobs, "We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions" im sorry. what the !@#$ did you invent? u stole almost everything from others.

http://failpix.info/what-did-apple-really-invent/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFeC25BM9E0

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