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Cellphones Patents The Courts Apple

Apple Sues HTC For 20 Patent Violations In Phones 434

Posted by Soulskill
from the sorry-about-your-luck dept.
eldavojohn writes "Taiwanese HTC is being sued by Apple for 20 patents regarding the many phones HTC manufactures. Steve Jobs was quoted as saying, '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. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.' Apple has similar patent litigation with Nokia and may be trying to scare the rest of the industry into licensing patents similar to the Microsoft-Novell and Microsoft-Amazon deals regarding patents covering Linux functionality."
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Apple Sues HTC For 20 Patent Violations In Phones

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  • by H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @12:50PM (#31331368) Homepage Journal

    Here's the software patent info I've gathered on these topics so far:

    swpat.org is a publicly editable wiki, help welcome.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @12:52PM (#31331384) Journal
    Engadget just released more details [engadget.com] with a statement from HTC:

    We only learned of Apple's actions based on your stories and Apple's press release. We have not been served yet so we are in no position to comment on the claims. We respect and value patent rights but we are committed to defending our own innovations. We have been innovating and patenting our own technology for 13 years.

    Apparently some 700 pages were just filed and they aren't all in the court's record system yet. In addition some of the patents are pretty questionable. Crazy.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:06PM (#31331620)

    Maybe Apple should pay Nokia's patent royalties first

    I think Apple would be happy to do so. The only problem is, unlike with every other company Nokia will not except ONLY money in the case of Apple - they also demand cross-licencing of patents (presumably similar to the ones in question).

    Why do you think it's fair that Nokia can demand different terms from licensers of a technology, when Nokia supposedly set forth the licenses under the RAND construct? That stands for "reasonable and non-discriminatory". How is demanding specific patents from Apple non-discriminatory?

    Apple has a lawsuit going there, demanding they be able to pay Nokia as per normal terms.

  • by C_Kode (102755) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:08PM (#31331646) Journal

    This isn't aimed at HTC; it's aimed at Google. Don't kid yourself. To whom, is Google paying license fees?

    The lawsuit is currently directed at HTC, so you would be quite wrong in this case. Though, I'm more than sure the plan is to stop Google's phone by attacking it from the ground up. I can understand why they are doing it because IMO (I have a Nexus One and my wife as an iPhone) the Nexus One is far superior to Apple's iPhone. Thats even with the few quarks that need to be worked out.

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:11PM (#31331686)

    Besides displays do not translate anything. They show or display things

    Oh brother. Translation, rotation, and scale are terms used to describe movement of an element in space. And yes, the iPhone display does this. All three are used to reorient the display when the phone's relation to 'down' is changed. So, yes, Apple's display 'translates' things.

  • by RadioElectric (1060098) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:37PM (#31332116)
    From what I understand (having spoken to a patent lawyer about this) Nokia and Apple were both "infringing" each others' patents in a "turning a blind eye" way for a while. Behind the scenes, things will have been getting a little tense (obviously in this kind of situation both parties have a lot to lose if it comes to blows), before erupting in the public spat that we all saw.
  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:41PM (#31332188)

    I guess there's a reason they call their site "folklore.com". While the author may have worked at Xerox at one time (installing copiers perhaps) it's clear that he never used a Xerox Alto.

    Nobody who worked with an Alto would say that Smalltalk "had a three-button" mouse. Smalltalk was just a programming environment, not hardware.

  • by FatdogHaiku (978357) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:44PM (#31332238)
    The details are here:
    http://techcrunch.com/2010/03/02/the-complaint-apples-patent-lawsuit-against-htc-is-all-about-android/ [techcrunch.com]
    and yes, “Object-Oriented Graphic System” is one of them along with “Touch Screen Device, Method, And Graphical User Interface For Determining Commands By Applying Heuristics”.
  • by sbeckstead (555647) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:51PM (#31332392) Homepage Journal
    Actually Apple did offer to license the patents from Nokia but Nokia tried to get Apple to give them all of the family jewels instead of the reasonable licensing they offered the other smart phone makers. Apple offered to give them access to the patents that Nokia is being sued for violating but that wasn't enough for Nokia. Apple was sitting there taking it for a while but now that they are the target of all the other smart phone makers it's time to take off the gloves and get back in the game!
  • Re:Multi-touch (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:55PM (#31332468)

    Because they did not invent pinch to zoom, it had been used before. [citation needed]

    http://www.billbuxton.com/multitouchOverview.html

    In particular, look at the part about the digitial desk in *1991*. Yet another Xerox PARC technology Apple claims for themselves.

  • Re:Multi-touch (Score:2, Informative)

    by jabelli (1144769) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:56PM (#31332506)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-touch#History [wikipedia.org]

    Pinch described in a paper in 1991.

  • Re:Is this a joke? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Homburg (213427) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:56PM (#31332508) Homepage

    Actually, GTK+ and the other GLib libraries that GNOME is based on are object-oriented.

  • by recoiledsnake (879048) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:03PM (#31332626)

    This isn't aimed at HTC; it's aimed at Google. Don't kid yourself. To whom, is Google paying license fees?

    Wrong, it targets WinMo phones too.

    From Engadget:

    In addition, the ITC complaint lists a number of specific HTC handsets as exhibits, including the Nexus One, Touch Pro, Touch Diamond, Touch Pro2, Tilt II, Pure, Imagio, Dream / G1, myTouch 3G, Hero, HD2, and Droid Eris. That's really a full range of HTC phones, running both Android and Windows Mobile, with and without Sense / TouchFLO.

  • by copponex (13876) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:10PM (#31332742) Homepage

    http://www.nytimes.com/1990/03/24/business/most-of-xerox-s-suit-against-apple-barred.html?pagewanted=1 [nytimes.com]

    Xerox sued Apple in December, seeking more than $150 million in damages. It asserted that the screen display of Apple's Macintosh computer unlawfully used copyrighted technology that Xerox had developed and incorporated in a computer called the Star, which was introduced in 1981, three years before the Macintosh...

    G. Gervaise Davis, a copyright lawyer in Monterey, Calif., said the decision in the case ''is not a bit surprising.'' He said Xerox had waited too long to file a copyright infringement case and had to resort to a weaker charge of unfair competition. ''I think it's unfortunate,'' he added, ''because Apple is running around persecuting Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard over things that they borrowed from Xerox.''

    But hey, your anecdote was great!

  • Re:Multi-touch (Score:2, Informative)

    by bsolar (1176767) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:13PM (#31332792)
    "described in a paper" can mean anything and doesn't mean the patent is automatically invalid.
  • by 1729 (581437) <slashdot1729&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:14PM (#31332804)

    Ahem.

    "Apple reinvented the mobile phone in 2007 with its revolutionary iPhone®, and did it again in 2008 with its pioneering App Store, which now offers more than 150,000 mobile applications in over 90 countries. Over 40 million iPhones have been sold worldwide.

    Steve Jobs was quoted as saying "We would like other companies to compete by re-reinventing their own phones, not stealing ideas like a screen you can touch or a program you can download for local use. These innovations are clearly thanks to us."

    Yes, this phenomenon is known as Reality Distortion Field (or to use technical jargon, "lying scumbag executive").

    A program you can download on your phone for local use? You mean like JavaME JAR files? Like the app store that GetJar [wikipedia.org] started years and years before Apple?

    A screen you can touch? Like the LG Prada, announced before the IPhone, or like hundreds of other touchscreen kiosks in the last three decades?

    Yup. Apple. Re-inventing marketing.

    Uh, you realize that Jobs's 'quote' above wasn't real, right?

  • by jambarama (784670) <jambarama@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:18PM (#31332864) Homepage Journal

    This patent BS is a joke. Did HTC hack, steal or corrupt Apple's trade secrets? Not at all and nobody believes that. It is one thing if a company steals your stuff, it is completely different if they come up with a similar idea/process independent of you.

    I agree that these patent suits are a waste of everyone's time and money, and we need a serious tightening of our novelty & nonobviousness standards. But I think you're mistaken as to how patent law works.

    In copyright law, if you independently come up with something similar to another's copyrighted work, you're not infringing. Not so in patent law. If you independently create a patentable invention, that is substantially similar to an existing patent, practicing your invention would violate the existing patent. Even if you alter your invention so as to fall outside the scope of the existing patent, you may still be violating the patent under the doctrine of equivalents.

    Does this make sense? I don't know. It avoids the nasty question of whether an invention was done independently - and copyright law hasn't been very favorable to those claiming independent creation. But it creates the nasty problem that it is hard to know if your invention's patent is valid and it is hard to know if you're infringing a prior patent.

  • Re:Multi-touch (Score:2, Informative)

    by StatusWoe (972534) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:52PM (#31333384)

    Except that multitouch has been around a long time, since the early 90s.

    Just because Apple was the first to put it in the phone, and even arguably did it the best shouldn't make it patentable. Just because you have the best or most popular version of something doesn't mean you thought of it first.

  • by Entropius (188861) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @03:09PM (#31333652)

    I write software to do computational physics. I'm not doing it right now, because I'm writing lecture notes for a computational physics course. Does that count?

    I didn't pitch those ideas years ago because I'm not in the business of building cellphones or touchscreens. If I wanted to build a cellphone that could be held in any orientation I'd have done it. (Actually, it was done years ago by many digital camera manufacturers -- my ancient Panasonic FZ3 does this.)

    I'm not arguing against patents, simply bullshit ones.

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @04:24PM (#31334854)

    There were very specific reasons why Apple stopped using the OS9 code - problems that MS has been facing in the many years since as it tries to hang onto all of its legacy code.

    You can't turn this into a "too pathetic to use their own code" argument - the break from OS9 to OS X was a huge step and required a huge amount of work. They maintained the Classic environment for a long time after the break to provide backwards compatibility for old apps (and dual booting for a time).

    OS X *was* a huge step forward, and Apple are well aware (and make no attempts to hide the fact) that is built on top of Darwin - a core system they continue to develop (and that has seen much benefit since Apple adopted it for OS X). It's not like they have called the core system done, they are continuing to work on it, and OSS projects that also use it (as well as many that don't) continue to benefit from that development. Isn't that one of the benefits of OSS? Mutual benefit for both parties.

    I have seen comments on /. before about how MS really needs to do what Apple did and just start fresh with Windows and stop patching on top of patches - citing security and the age and complexity of the code as a problem. Whether that's the right thing to do is another matter, but it's not as cut and dried as you make out.

    It's also not like Apple just grabbed some source code and replaced the word "Darwin" with "OS X" and put it in a box - a substantial amount of work has gone into making it the OS it is today, from its beginnings as NextStep.

    Sometimes you just have to know when it's time to let your 17-year mature-but-dead-end product go and start again. This is not "the failure to use your own R&D and instead rely on someone else's" - it was a development decision for the future of the Mac platform.

    If you think that the continued development of OS9 was the way forward at the time then you are looking at it through rose-tinted glasses - it really was ready to be put out to pasture.

  • by jwdav (1003969) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @04:50PM (#31335362)
    You can't patent an idea like "Conserving power by reducing voltage supplied to an instruction-processing portion of a processor", but you can patent a method for doing it. Other companies are free to develop other methods of implementing the idea, but Apple has a patent on their particular method.
  • by poetmatt (793785) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @06:11PM (#31336596) Journal

    Going after someone as huge as HTC by trying to use the ITC loophole along with patent saber rattling is a horrible horrible idea.

    Really, if HTC buckles down and fights back apple could have their patent portfolio basically invalidated (among other things). HTC is a huge company, so I don't expect them to throw in a towel either. It's one thing if apple tried this on small fry, but this is a case of a jellyfish trying to eat the shark.

    Apple is bigger (financially only) in the US, but HTC has a hand in probably 80% of all the electronics made in the world in terms of components, etc. HTC (as high tech corp) serious manufacturer ownership/control (especially outside the US) and could basically ensure apple won't be able to obtain key parts for any of their products.

  • by JAlexoi (1085785) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @06:50PM (#31337268) Homepage
    A) We know nothing about the actual negotiations. Face it, no insider will talk openly about it.
    B) By looking at the original Nokias complaint, there is no precedent on patent licensing without non-cross licensing additional patents. I infer that from the fact that Nokia asks to determine the price in the complaint(witch I actually read). So what Apple wanted as a fair price might have been really inadequate and baseless.
  • by Kalriath (849904) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @07:07PM (#31337494)

    In the last couple of years we saw them gradually add a plugin to the homescreen and enhance that until eventually they took over the first layer of the UI with TouchFLO in Diamond. By that time the iPhone was already out and you could see several pieces of functionality "inspired" by the iPhone make it's way into later releases.

    TouchFLO is much older than the iPhone. The HTC Touch had it for example, and that was long before the Diamond.

  • Re:Multi-touch (Score:3, Informative)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @08:33PM (#31338648)

    I believe that Apple acquired the specific multi-touch technology from Fingerworks [wikipedia.org] which started in 1998 and Apple purchased in 2005. While there might have been multitouch that predates this, how Fingerwork's technology is different from others is important. For example, the Surface technology MS employs relies on cameras. The second thing to remember is patents normally are awarded on first to file the paperwork (and have a working product in some cases) not first to experiment. Some of the experimental systems that are too expensive for practical use.

    The reason the iPhone costs so much was not because of the multitouch but because it was unsubsidized. Pricing out a comparable, new Blackberry without a contract would have cost you about the same.

  • by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @11:47PM (#31340138)

    Actually Apple did offer to license the patents from Nokia but Nokia tried to get Apple to give them all of the family jewels instead of the reasonable licensing they offered the other smart phone makers.

    This is a myth, stop perpetuating it.

    Apple was given the same deal as any other manufacturer, Apple rejected this and demanded a special deal. The standard deal remained on the table until Nokia got sick of Apple's delay tactics and just sued for the value of the standard contract, why else is Nokia only suing for the standard license fees + court costs.

    What Apple is suing HTC in a poor attempt to artificially increase the (perceived) value of Apple's (somewhat dubious) patent portfolio in an attempt to gain an unfair advantage in cross patent licensing. They are going after HTC because Google (the real target) or Motorola is too risky, in other words Apple is hoping to bully HTC to get a favourable outcome. They might be able to out lawyer HTC although I doubt it. Any decent lawyer will tear Apple's complaint to shreds(some blogs already have). Right now HTC is claiming hasn't received any court papers so they have no official position as yet but this may just mean the papers are taking their time (is Apple too cheap to pay for first class mail?).

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