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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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  • I hope they win (Score:5, Interesting)

    by YA_Python_dev (885173) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:00AM (#32674562) Journal

    I hope every single fucking patent lawsuit for smartphones in the US succeeds. So HTC, Nokia, Apple, Motorola, all the Android phones and pretty much everyone will be prohibited from selling smartphones in the US.

    Maybe it would be the time that you fix your stupid patent laws that allows software to be patented (most of the patents involved in this shit, especially to most wide-reaching ones and more difficult to avoid, are software patents).

  • Re:in re Bilski (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jonbryce (703250) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:03AM (#32674580) Homepage

    Bilski is a computerised business method / mathematical algorithm patent. Invalidating that is a step in the right direction, but I don't think it will help HTC.

  • Apple is flailing. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by kuzb (724081) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:09AM (#32674614)

    It sees that in the long run, google's ecosystem is just better, so it's trying as hard as it can to stop it from succeeding before it gets too big.

    I sincerely hope android destroys the iphone.

  • Re:in re Bilski (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fallen Kell (165468) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:15AM (#32674638)
    It depends on how the court rules. If indeed it does uphold the fact that math can't be patented and concludes that ultimately, all software is math, then all software patents go poof. This might not help for any hardware based patents (and I am sure there are a few in this case), but a lot of the ammo disappears.
  • by freddled (544384) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:18AM (#32674656) 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
  • Re:I hope they win (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sznupi (719324) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @02:30AM (#32674720) Homepage

    Though what supposedly "set off a patent Armageddon in the mobile space" isn't about software / concept patents. And generally seems a bit like something done on behalf of most companies behind cellular technology - it's just that Nokia has not only one of the larger contributions, but also probably the least to loose by any turmoil in the US market.

  • by Totenglocke (1291680) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:17AM (#32674946)

    First quarter 2010, there were more Android phones sold than iPhones. Also I was reading various articles on this, and a site (I wish I'd bookmarked it now - maybe someone reading knows which one it is) showed graphs for mobile browser usage - over a one year time span, May 2009 to May 2010, iPhone browser usage dropped 8% and Android browser usage increased 12%.

    I had an iPhone 3GS from the day they went on sale until two weeks ago when I bought an Evo. I loved the iPhone at first, until all of it's shortcomings (virtually none of which have been fixed in the new version) became too obvious to stand. Android is a much better platform and you get a large selection of different handsets to choose from. Out of all the people I know, it's about 50/50 for iPhone vs Android ownership. However, I currently know no one looking to buy a new iPhone - but I know several people looking to buy a new Android phone and several who want to switch from an iPhone to an Android phone (but that's just my personal experience).

  • by JAlexoi (1085785) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:17AM (#32674948) Homepage
    I am an Android fanboy and develop for it. But I sincerely hope that iPhone doesn't die, but rather becomes more open so that everyone can win....
  • by Vapula (14703) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:26AM (#32674986)

    Palm smartphones did exist BEFORE the iPhone...

    iPhone, Android phones, ... are *NOT* Phones, they are "Smartphones" which are a mix between PDA and phone... And that did exists before... Palm had several of them which already had big touch screen

    Keep in mind that most progress are improvements over something that already exists... And Apple marketting make you think they "invented" the technology...

    Blueberry/Palm --- iPhone
    Creative/Sony/... --- iPod
    Xerox --- Macintosh GUI
    Arm --- A4 processor (it's nothing more than common blocks put together, nothing new)
    And so on... But with a good marketting, they make people believe they invented the wheel !!!

    What they did create is the market for smartphones, not the smartphones... Before, smartphones were limited to a few CEO... Now everyone wants a smartphone (even if he has no need for it) And there are no patents protection for "creating a new market", only for creating a new product.

    In this case, Apple IS the freerunner... Nokia holds most of the mobile phone patents (the technologies needed to connect to mobile networks). Apple made the iPhone without paying royalties to Nokia...

  • by BlackCreek (1004083) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:12AM (#32675222)

    Yesterday at the Droid X launch, the quote was of 160.000 Android phones being sold per day [engadget.com]. I assume that this number is global. So at any 4 working days Android (sales world wide) matches the iphone 4 (US) launch. How well do you think the sales between these two fare on a normal week world wide? Truth is, we both don't know.

    I think that at the high-end price point, the iphone seems to sell a lot more. But the trick is that, world wide, not that many people have the disposable money. Android OTOH is present both at the high-end and at the mid-range.

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

    by pieterh (196118) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:59AM (#32675494) Homepage

    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. Patent licensing makes legal a cartel that would be criminal in any other case. There are no technical reasons for high mobile voice/data costs. Landline costs are low. Internet costs are low. GSM infrastructure is now 10+ years old in Europe.

    The cost of spectrum might be responsible for short term high costs but those licenses are long paid off.

    ITSUG controls [newswireless.net] who can and cannot do business with GSM in Europe and USA. Competition is excluded, prices are defined between members, and anti-trust authorities are powerless to intervene because it's all legal, thanks to patent licensing.

    It does not even matter what the patents actually say. They simply enable the cartel, that's their key role here.

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

    by pieterh (196118) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @06:10AM (#32675834) Homepage

    Carriers do break away and start price wars, but it happens locally, in smaller countries. Clearly 3G licenses are not the factor since those break away carriers also paid expensive licenses.

    Presumably the cartel agreements allow this kind of local flexibility, to satisfy national anti-trust issues. The French carriers were investigated for collusion and price fixing around 2000, iirc.

    Do you have an alternative explanation as to why even the EU's anti-trust authorities have been unable to cut roaming costs, even though these are clearly harming inter-EU trade, and have no technical basis?

    When a group of companies that effectively control a market maintain consistently high prices, this is illegal. It should have been broken up over 10 years ago.

    Why do high roaming data and voice costs still exist? What actually stops the regulators from fixing this? You've not provided an explanation.

  • Not necessiarly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @06:13AM (#32675846)

    The federal government doesn't have to wise up and fix the patent problem overall, they can just take away the patents in question. Since patents are a power specifically granted to the government, it also means they are theirs to do with as they wish. The government can revoke patents for various reasons.

    Well, if smart phones were going to get banned, that would have national security implications. The government relies heavily on mobile phones for communications. National security is a reason they are allowed to revoke patents for.

    This sort of thing was threatened in the RIM lawsuit, and is one of the reasons it settled. The federal government told the court that if an injunction was issued against RIM stopping their operations, it could have national security implications. They asked the court not to grant it, and it was strongly implied if it was they might just take the patent away. The court then strongly suggested to the parties that they might want to settle this shit.

    Not saying that's what would happen, just saying it is a possibility. The government could basically say "Ok all the patents in question are gone now, anyone can use the tech. Problem solved, let's all go get drunk," and ignore the underlying problem with the system.

  • by LKM (227954) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @06:25AM (#32675908) Homepage

    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

    Wait, is there general agreement that his "issue" should be adressed? Because I disagree. Profiting from someone else's idea is not a problem for society, it's how society progresses. Every book written in the history of mankind has profited from the idea of other people. Every movie made in the history of mankind has done so. Every product ever developed has relied on ideas from other people. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this; it's called "progress."

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

    by Lars T. (470328) <Lars.TraegerNO@SPAMgooglemail.com> on Thursday June 24, 2010 @07:48AM (#32676422) Journal

    At least Nokia's patents were proper *hardware* patents related to GSM technologies *they developed*

    Ohh, so they changed their suit to not include all the "Method to" patents? Which were about half of them? Not to mention the fluffyness of the rest of the patents:

    Data transmission in a radio telephone network

    Abstract

    For bidirectional transmission of packet data, a packet data service unit (Agent) is disposed in a digital cellular system connected to be in association with a Mobile Switching Center, and connecting the cellular network to the date network. As a mobile station is connected to the packet data service unit, signalling related to connection formation characteristics of the network is first accomplished. As a result thereof, the mobile station and the data service unit are provided with a number of stored parameters relating to each other. This situation creates or is called a virtual channel. When a mobile station wants to transmit or receive data packets between the mobile station and the data service unit a packet data transfer channel is established making use of the parameters of the virtual channel and thereby using substantially less signalling than the channel establishment signalling characteristic of the network, one part thereof being a radio channel and the other part a time slot in a digital trunk line. On termination of data packet transfer, at least said radio channel is disassembled but the virtual channel is maintained until the disconnection of the mobile station from the data service.

    Translation: when a device connects to a network, both sides keep the connection open - over RADIO. Wow.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:02AM (#32678118)
    I once was a admirer of apple being a company pushing the edge.I also witnessed many users of apple products and I observed one thing very common to all, they start behaving like snobs the moment the apple gadget lands on their doors. They almost start believing into this cult of apple which shuts down creative inputs from other players.I can now relate with apple inc.'s behavior which embodies the same pathetic trait. With their nonsensical litigation and closing doors to other technologies they ensured one thing, lost me as a potential customer and make sure the most deserving competitor will get my business. This also goes to the AT&T which did a nice bait and switch for their apple users.I used to have AT&T as my cell phone provider, they are out too. I love my freedom to choose and my small contribution will not come their way.
  • Re:I hope they win (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cornelius the Great (555189) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:10AM (#32678238)
    Apple and Nokia were in talks for a while- from what I've been told (by insiders), Nokia wanted the same licensing fees plus a cross-licensing agreement that it had done with nearly every other GSM smartphone manufacturer before, but Apple overvalued their patent portfolio (which admittedly is mostly software and UI/window dressing patents). Apple walked out of the talks, and then Nokia sued.

    Legally, Apple doesn't have much to stand on in the Nokia vs. Apple suit, so they thought they could swing some of their weight around and attack smaller companies to build up some credibility for their own IP.

    At first, they threatened Palm, but suing them would be like trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip- not to mention that Palm has quite a hefty IP portfolio themselves, so the battle would be costly and drag on for years. So instead they went after a foreign target that was having lots of newfound success in the smartphone market. They may have attempted to associate HTC with the slew of KiRF-device (blatant knockoffs- ie, Meizu M8) manufacturers from China and Taiwan. It would also have the benefit (for Apple) of taking some of the wind out of Android's sails. Win-win, according to Apple's legal team.

    That strategy seems to be backfiring.
  • Re:in re Bilski (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mOdQuArK! (87332) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:20AM (#32678406)

    My proposal (assuming you want patents at all for your society):

    Put a fairly small hard-limit # on the total # of patents that can be valid at any time (maybe 10000 total? Or 10000 total per industry category? Not sure how many patents are being granted per year right now.)

    When patents expire, or are invalidated (through existing prior art or obviousness procedures), sell their "slots" at an auction.

    To enter the auction, you have to submit a patent application. The bidders will bid on the various patent applications, highest bidder(s) will get the patent application they were bidding on assigned to one of the open slots. The money that was paid to win the auction can go to the person who filed the patent application.

    The advantages:

    1) having a relatively small # of patents that can be valid at any time will make it a lot easier to find out if you are violating a patent, plus you don't have to worry so much about stumbling over patents about small stupid things that you would have to go to court to get them declared obvious,

    2) by valuing each potential patent through an auction, you force the bidders to do the due diligence on each patent application (since they don't want to purchase a patent which will be easier overturned). (i.e., no patent examiners required for this step).

    Still need patent examiners (and courts) to rule on obviousness/prior art challenges though.

    3) the people who are submitting the patent applications don't have to be the people who have to try and exploit the patented idea, and the people bidding on the patent applications will be pre-selected to have the resources to properly exploit a patented idea.

    Win for the patent applicant, since they might receive an awesome jackpot if they submit a particularly valuable idea, even if they're not a businessperson in a position to exploit it, and win for society because the successful bidder is much more likely to be able to turn that patent into a product or service that can be then sold to the society.

    Main disadvantage(s) I can think of:

    1) Because proceeds of auction go to the patent applicant, need to make sure that the applicants can't bid on their own patent (since there's no point in an auction where the bidder is just paying themselves).

    2) What to do with the patent applications which don't make the grade.

    The obvious thing to do is to make them public domain, since their contents are public (which you need to do to have a fair auction) and therefore they are prior art if someone else submits something similar for a later auction, but it sure doesn't seem fair if you've got a really good idea that just happened to up against some really tough competition.

    I guess you might have to just leave it up to being strategic about when to submit your patent application, and to try and keep things as a trade secret if you don't think your idea is good enough to win one of the patent auctions.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @06:22PM (#32685244)

    No. First quarter this year, more Android loaded phones were sold than iPhones.

    No they weren't. One study from on firm, covering US sales only and excluding corporate sales claimed that. It didn't come to the conclusion that total Android phone sales were larger than total iPhone sales at all. And no other study shows Android as even being close.

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