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Cellphones Patents The Courts Apple

Apple Sues HTC Again Over Patents 263

Posted by samzenpus
from the litigation-pie dept.
recoiledsnake writes "Apple is suing HTC again over patent infringement. Apple is adding two new patents to the 20 included in the earlier case while adding additional details to two patents included previously. Although Android is not mentioned in any of the court documents, many of the patent infringement complaints refer to the software rather than the hardware that HTC manufactures, leading to speculation that Google is the real target, especially considering that Android sales are surpassing the iPhone's. With HTC countersuing Apple, Microsoft siding with HTC over Android, and Apple trying to stop import of Nokia phones, it seems like Apple has set off a patent Armageddon in the mobile space."
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Apple Sues HTC Again Over Patents

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  • in re Bilski (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:56AM (#32674532)

    Well, we can hope that when the Supreme Court hands down its in re Bilski decision, it renders software patents invalid...

  • lawl (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Zixaphir (845917) <Jinira@@@hotmail...com> on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:06AM (#32674592) Homepage
    I love how competition works in a system that seems designed to make it fail.
  • Re:I hope they win (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:13AM (#32674626) Journal
    It's happened before, Qualcomm had a huge patent fight with Broadcomm, which actually did result in an injunction. Qualcomm managed to find a way to work around the patent technologically, thus allowing phones to come into the US still (in case you are unaware, most phones on Sprint and Verizon networks have Qualcomm parts inside). The workaround happened really quickly.

    I am not about to investigate all the patents in question, but if they are of the calibre of typical software patents, it won't be hard to work around them. Just annoying.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:30AM (#32674718)

    I don't. Not because I'm an Apple fanboy. I'm not. But because Google needs competition from something like Apple. Why? Apple make phones that are popular, and they're not popular because they have the best phone, but because they have the best marketing. Thus Google needs to have a significantly better OS to compete with that. And I think that ultimately benefits everyone in the mobile space.

  • YAWN (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paimin (656338) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:42AM (#32674784)
    The iPhone vs. Android flamebait stories are getting real fucking boring, guys.
  • by Whuffo (1043790) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:45AM (#32674798) Homepage Journal

    One issue is the corporate use of questionably valid patents to attack their competitors. This does nothing to advance science or technology and is a clear abuse of the patent system. I'm not talking about legitimate patents covering real inventions - I'm talking about all of those patents that cover pre-existing technology or obvious ideas. There's far too many of those and they're taking a toll on our economy.

    The other issue is the free riders - those corporations that choose to copy other's inventions and profit from someone else's ideas. This is what the patent system was intended to address and it's not doing very well at that either.

    Rather than point fingers and toss accusations, I'd like to offer this thought to my fellow Slashdot readers: think back to what cell phones were like before the iPhone came out - and what they're like now. Say what you will about Apple but they did cause a revolution in cell phone design. They provided the "inspiration" for all of the touch-screen Iphone wanna-be phones that are now being produced by numerous companies - including HTC. Who will win in this latest exchange of legal briefs? One thing is for sure: it won't be the consumer.

    One thing you can depend on is that patent suits take time and money - huge amounts of money for both the winner and the loser. And these expenses will be passed on to you in the cost of your new cell phone and the price of the cell service - the corporations aren't in business to do anyone a favor and they'll always make a profit no matter how much it costs you.

    Situations like this one clearly show that the US patent system is badly broken - it's not promoting science and the arts and it's not protecting those who invent useful technology. It's become nothing but a weapon that corporations use to beat up on their competitors legally. This needs to change, and change soon.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:00AM (#32674878)

    In a truly free market, why shouldn't you be allowed to "copy other's inventions and profit from someone else's ideas.". Think it through.

    That's what grates me, these people harp on about how they're love a free market, yet everything they DO says otherwise.

    It's an odd sort of freedom where a clearly winning strategy is to be aritificially restricted.

  • by randomsearch (1207102) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:40AM (#32675048) Journal

    "I fondly remember the days when products lived and died on their fitness for purpose, not in the courts. So much for free market economics. What shall we call this? SHAckled Market Economics"

    You do? When was that? Some time prior to capitalism?

  • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:49AM (#32675088)
    Why? So Google has less incentive to innovate? Competition is good. A healthy market is one where multiple systems compete against each other, constantly being forced to improve in order to gain an edge. A market where Google stands alone is neither competitive nor healthy. Of course there's still Microsoft (well, not if they continue down the path they are on), Nokia (small presence in the USA) and RIM (not very attractive for non-business customers) but as far as brand recognition goes it's currently iOS vs. Android.
  • Re:I hope they win (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pieterh (196118) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:59AM (#32675136) Homepage

    Do you know what a patent is?

    It is a legal tool designed to reduce competition in some area of business, in exchange for documenting that specific knowledge so that future generations can reuse it.

    So two questions. One, do we need such documentation for software, in the form of patents? One might argue that patents do document, for example, steam engines from the 19th century. Are patents conceivably a proper form of documentation for software knowledge?

    Second question, is the stopping of competition worth this documentation? For example, patents on the GSM stack are why we pay so much for mobile data and calls. Patents allow a cartel (ITSUG) that controls prices, legally. The only justification for ITSUG's existence is that future generations will receive a neat stack of over 500 patent families documenting how to build GSM networks and phones. Is this better than, for example, the unpatented RFC stack which allows the Internet to function, without cartels, and at a cost that is as much as 1M times less?

    If you can answer YES to both these questions, go ahead with ways to improve software patent quality. If either answer is NO, abolish all legal monopolies on trade in software knowledge.

    There is no grey area here.

  • Re:in re Bilski (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MarxMarvellous (1840976) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @05:15AM (#32675234)

    Certainly, since the one of the foundations of quantum theory is the many worlds hypothesis...

    The many worlds hypothesis is NOT one of the foundations of quantum mechanics. It's an interpretation [wikipedia.org] of quantum mechanics - one of many. And that bit in your argument where you jump from the *concept* of digital logic being unpatentable to a specific *hardware* implemenation being unpatentable is really shakey too. How did this get modded +4 insightful?

  • Re:I hope they win (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sznupi (719324) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @05:17AM (#32675250) Homepage

    patents on the GSM stack are why we pay so much for mobile data and calls

    You...seriously...believe that?...

  • Re:I hope they win (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sznupi (719324) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @07:23AM (#32675888) Homepage

    In larger countries too, I live in one such. Accidentally, a place where 3G licenses weren't insane... (and the carrier most rocking the boat was established long after the insanity with those 3G licenses)

    There are at the least carriers giving the same rates while calling abroad, within the EU; I believe that also extends to roaming in some cases. Voice can be cheap, too.

    And generally...whoa, you are supposed to present an evidence that any possible cartels are via patents; for starters.
    Me - I'm only showing that pointing fingers at existence of any cartel at all is probably unfounded. Common interests at most, but without real colluding. And with cheap alternatives available. Which doesn't stop people from using, en masse, much more expensive carriers. Hell, differences in price of data transfers can be more than order of magnitude apart...and yet the more expensive offer is still widely used by people.
    Why? I have no idea. But choice is there.

  • by Rational (1990) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @08:03AM (#32676106)

    Oh, yeah. Apple is *really* flailing.

    Android is what you get when iPhone OS is reverse-engineered by martians. A bunch of features, vaguely similar in the surface, but done with absolutely no understanding of how people in the real world use a device. Perfectly suited for the demographic of neckbeards whose main hobby is to compare feature list lengths. No wonder Google has to fucking *give it away*.

    Jesus fuck, I've been on Slashdot since the very beginning, but I'm increasingly embarrassed to call myself a nerd.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @08:36AM (#32676336)
    Are we forgetting android platform copies heavily from iPhone. The UI still isn't as polished as iPhone. It's great to have a ton of knobs to turn for developers, but the average phone user doesn't care about that at all. It's only google fanboy wannabe mobile developers that give a crap about it. Of the people who have an android based phone, how many actually develop apps and make use of all those knobs? I'm guilty of the same thing myself, so lets be realistic. All this noise is just childish.
  • Re:I hope they win (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lars T. (470328) <Lars DOT Traeger AT googlemail DOT com> on Thursday June 24, 2010 @09:04AM (#32676590) Journal

    Yes, it's pretty clear from (failed) anti-trust proceedings in the EU against the telecoms operators that patents are the underlying long term reason for high costs that even regulators cannot correct.

    If that were true, Nokia wouldn't need to sell phones anymore. Instead they desperately do.

  • by intheshelter (906917) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:51AM (#32677938)

    Are you really making the argument that there was no difference between a Palm phone and the iPhone? Really? Because that is pure BS. The poster you replied to is right on the money. The iPhone has had a HUGE impact on the mobile landscape and on handset design. Some of these technologies did exist before the iPhone, yes, but the iPhone implemented them so much better that EVERYONE knew something revolutionary had been released. Go back and look at the press releases from Jan 2007. Tech analysts were gasping in the audience during the demo, no one had seen it implemented like this before.

    Your cheese-ball excuse that this is all good marketing is burying your head in the sand.

  • Re:I hope they win (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goombah99 (560566) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @11:15AM (#32678310)

    So, Nokia sues Apple, who kicks the dog (htc)?

    mod up. this is the first person to notice the Han Solo Shot first. Saying that Apple has unleashed patent armegeddon is a bit much. Apple is not a patent troll who produces no product or innovation but simply sues others with dubious IP. The IP in question here is not dubious or obvious. If it was obvious then why was the late-comer iphone such a run-away hit? others had plenty of time and funds to originate it.

    You can of course argue that somethings should nto be patentable or the degree to which patents should matter. But the point is Apple is not abusing the system here like actual patent trolls do.

    Is Nokia abusing apple? is HTC abusing apple with it's counter suit? Given that HTC was well aware of Apple's patents why did they choose to run smack into them? well that's pretty obvious: the patented innovations were crucial to success in that market, thus demonstrating precisely why Apple is on solid ground to patent them. They are not dubious innovations they are critical.

    One can say the same thing about the Nokia innovations that apple has stepped on. apple knew they existed but chose to template their protocols on Nokia's successful ones presumably because they had proven successful.

    I have no doubt that some of these patents are silly or restating past work with small tweaks of language. But It seems pretty clear that Nokia gor where it is, and Apple got where it is on the basis of innovation in highyl cometitive active markets. Thus they have every right to try to protect their crucial innovations that caused their sucess.

    Moreover there is likely more sound than fury here. The real issue is cross licensing. What is the relative value of the Nokia patents to apple comared to the Apple patents to Nokia. They obviously could not decide amongst themsleves or at least could not do do quickly enough for market timing, so instead they will measure each other in court. Then settle and cross license. In the end each will get a fair result and everyone else is doomed.

    On the other hand, if the sound is great enough and there are enough vested interests this may become political in which case the EU might doi something like force apple to give its patents at less than fair value. Or there could be equivalent pressure from the US on Nokia and HTC. Or HTC might engage some trade leverage from it's home country.

    THe problem is thus not the court settlements but potential political ones.

  • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @01:09PM (#32680028)
    Wait a second. You're telling me that the mobile OS market is characterized by a particularly low barrier to entry but at the same time is one where the first company to market (in this case Nokia, through the Symbian platform) has an overwhelming cost advantage over everyone else. I find it hard to reconcile these two standpoints.

    I also don't think that the competition is inconsequential from an OS improvement standpoint; for instance, Microsoft responded to the success of iPhone OS by designing Windows Mobile 6.5 and 7, which move away from the old pseudo-desktop user interface to one more suitable for mobile devices. Would they have done so if Apple hadn't shown that smartphone-specific interfaces work really well? I doubt it.

    Also, even though Apple does compete on marketing, what's to stop anyone from doing the same with any other platform? In fact, is there anyone who competes differently? You either sell to the consumer market (which means your marketing is all about how cool your product is) or you market to companies and professionals (a smaller, more specific market).
  • by Cornelius the Great (555189) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @01:55PM (#32680768)
    I really don't think Nokia wants to make an iPhone knockoff. Rather, they wanted protection from the legal threats that Apple had been making [techradar.com] over Nokia's touchscreen smartphones.

    Non-discrimination aside, wouldn't you want competitor, who continually threatens you and others with litigation, to back down as a condition of licensing terms? I think that's reasonable.

    No, it was Apple who picked a fight with Nokia. Nokia simply called their bluff.
  • Re:I hope they win (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lars T. (470328) <Lars DOT Traeger AT googlemail DOT com> on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:05PM (#32682728) Journal
    Claims == Obvious OVER RADIO
  • Re:I hope they win (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pollardito (781263) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @05:31PM (#32684034)

    So, Nokia sues Apple, who kicks the dog (htc)?

    If it was obvious then why was the late-comer iphone such a run-away hit? others had plenty of time and funds to originate it.

    You're completely ignoring the questions of whether these particular patents apply to the same aspect(s) of the phone that made it a hit and whether what made them a hit wasn't just an obvious evolution of what others were already doing (this seems to be what made the iPod a hit). They're suing for 22 different patents at this point, so really all we need to know about those 22 claims is that the iPhone sells a lot of hardware? Nokia sells even more phones than Apple does, so by your standard all their patent claims must be valid also.

    At least some of these Apple patents have to do with using two fingers to move in different motions, where using one finger to poke or slide on a touchscreen was an established practice. Was it a good idea for them to do this? Yes. Is it so novel that no one else should be able to do it for 25 years unless they pay Apple money? Not in my opinion.

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