Apple Sues HTC For Patent Infringement: Who Is Next?

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.

Tags:  Apple, Patent, HTC, Lawsuit, Sue