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Apple Sues HTC For 20 Patent Violations In Phones 434

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 sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @12:45PM (#31331292) Journal

    Maybe Apple should pay Nokia's patent royalties first before they go bullying others? (you know, the company that spend billions for mobile technology R&D and who's technology it's almost all based on?)

    Apple is just like a little kid trying to yell at the parents here. Too bad the mobile phone industry is a small one, everyone of the existing players cross-license between each one and ass behaving Apple is in serious trouble if the other companies stop licensing their technology.

  • by gambit3 ( 463693 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @12:49PM (#31331350) Homepage Journal

    Apparently, it seems to think so. From the complaint:

    "The '381 Patent, entitled "List Scrolling And Document Translation, Scaling, And
    Rotation On A Touch-Screen Display," was duly and legally issued on December 23, 2008 by
    the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the '381 Patent is attached hereto as
    Exhibit D.
    40. Apple is the exclusive and current owner of all rights, title, and interest in the
    '381 Patent, including the right to bring this suit for injunctive relief and damages."

  • by idiotnot ( 302133 ) <> on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:05PM (#31331598) Homepage Journal

    If Apple succeeds in bloodying HTC's nose, *then* they'll start going after the bigger boys like Google.

    That's the point. Get a judgement against HTC, hit Motorola, then Google, using the judgement as leverage.

    I also halfway wonder if some of this is at the behest of AT&T.

  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:16PM (#31331774) Journal

    Because that's how everyone works in the mobile phone industry - they cross-license their patents. If the companies would stop licensing their patents to each other, no one could work in that industry as the technology is completely patented to different companies. If Apple wants to enter the market, they have to go by the rules.

    By far they just ignored every patent and released their product anyway. And that doesn't call for a lawsuit?

  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:24PM (#31331900)

    Apple put out a statement before HTC was actually served, then. Suggests this is more of a PR war than anything else, that they want to reassert the iPhone OS's primacy in the public eye before this year's big Android, WinMo and Symbian handsets get going. Nothing says "their product is a knock-off" like a patent infringement suit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:36PM (#31332090)

    "Good artists COPY.. Great artists STEAL"

    Guess you forgot about the good'ol times don't you steve?

  • by grimmy ( 75458 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:37PM (#31332104) Homepage

    The OP should have RTFA lol It's in the update with the complaint.

    certain mobile communication devices including cellular phones and smart phones, including at least phones incorporating the
    Android Operating System (collectively, “the Accused Products”)

  • by Kamokazi ( 1080091 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:38PM (#31332140)
    HTC(8.13B) is considerably larger than Palm (1.05B), but are both dwarfed by RIM (39.42B). Apple's market cap is 190.34B.
  • Re:Multi-touch (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hoooocheymomma ( 1020927 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:43PM (#31332214)

    "Pinch to Zoom" is a gesture. Why should it be possible to patent a hard-coded gesture? People have been writing gesture-based solutions for EVER. On a touch screen, all you have are gestures made up of touching and dragging. Does it make much sense to force users to use different gestures on different devices?

  • by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:51PM (#31332378)

    RAND only applied to the companies that helped develop GSM. There are about a dozen companies with patents that helped create it, so they set up RAND to come to a mutually beneficial cross-licensing agreement. Apple had nothing to do with the development of GSM; they contributed nothing for which they should receive a favorable licensing agreement.

    Now, in order to get a piece of the pie, Apple needs to bring something to the table, which they have been unwilling to do. Nokia has said "not good enough", and it's well within their rights to do so. They don't think Apple's patents are worth what their patents are worth, so they want Apple to share more. It's like trading a $20 dollar item for a $10 item, you wouldn't think it's fair either and wouldn't make the trade. For some reason, Apple seems to believe their $10 item is worth $200, and so we have a problem. I think some companies did give Apple favorable licensing, but by no means did they have to. They likely did not have the same level of investment in the GSM technology that Nokia has either.

    In any case, what Apple can NOT do is just ignore the patents and make the phone anyway, that's called patent infringement and it's a whole lot worse if you do it on purpose than if you did it by accident.

  • by recoiledsnake ( 879048 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:06PM (#31332678)

    As much as I hate Apple, have never used or intend to ever use an Apple device. The blame on this should fall squarely on the patent office for handing out completely ridiculous patents.

    No, Apple deserves blame as well, they could've used the patents defensively like many companies out there, but went out and sued HTC which meant no patent threat to them. It's basically a dick move by Apple.

  • by GuyFawkes ( 729054 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:15PM (#31332840) Homepage Journal

    ... and by that I mean the high street, not certain high streets in US towns and cities, not certain self selecting demographics (/. readership), but actual high streets in other countries in the world...

    I live in a city with 2,000+ years of history (Exeter, UK)

    I live in a city with 50 mbit cable for approx 50 bucks a month.

    I live in a city which is a big university town, and which also is home to the UK Met Office (I mention that because it is basically a tech institution)

    You know how many iphones I have seen in the flesh?





    Nope, not a single one.

    Flipside, I am one of the few people I know who does not own a fully featured smartphone less than 12 months old, I own a very old and very basic samsung phone.

    iphone is available here, and competitive price wise, plus we have the ability here to just stick a sim card in and use any carrier you like, and the iphone was marketed harder than any other smartphone, so there really aren't ANY barriers to entry here for users.

    except one.

    they choose / prefer to buy a different make / model phone.

    Apple (iphone) suing HTC over phone tech patents is like Apple (ipod) suing Sony over walkman tech patents.

    The analogy is as the ipod is insignificant in the field of hi-fi hardware, the iphone is insignificant in the field of comms hardware.

    Apple is a busted flush, suing instead of innovating.

    No news here unless you are an Apple shareholder, if you are then this is news, a heads up to sell Apple stock asap and get into something else.

  • by raddan ( 519638 ) * on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:22PM (#31332912)
    Maybe so, but it does mark a turning point. In the past, Apple primarily let their products speak for themselves-- or, at least, they let us think so.

    I think what bugs The Steve is that a new competitor came up doing what Apple used to do: make great products. I still think Apple's products are highly refined, but I can't stand the lock-in. Their new business model (and the reason that they are wildly successful) is that they are now hybrid of the old Apple ("hip") and Microsoft ("shrewd"). In my mind, this is antithetical to the old Apple way of doing things, which was more of a hacker approach. The old Mac OS may be been a POS, but at least it was a hacker's POS.

    It may be time to finally bury that old SE/30.
  • Re:Multi-touch (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ianare ( 1132971 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @03:07PM (#31333616)

    You would have a valid point IF Apple had in fact been the first to do pinch on multi touch. They were not. There has been experimental systems since the 90s, and MS came out with the Surface the same year Apple came out with the iphone.

    Here, look at this from 2006 : []

    The reason there was no multitouch devices before the iphone was the enormous cost of making them. Remember that the iphone initially cost nearly $600 with contract. After Apple showed there was a market for this type of tech, others followed suit. But to say that Apple invented multi-touch, or pinch to zoom, is a complete fallacy.

  • by Miamicanes ( 730264 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @03:13PM (#31333716)

    Well, even if Apple prevails, most of Apple's patents cover things implemented via software. If push came to shove, Android's API could be refined to simply omit them, with clear entry points where users (who could care less about infringement) can download their own thirdparty extensions to do the same thing and install them anyway. For example, Google could (in fact, should) implement keyguard as a Java interface, then at startup read a config file to instantiate an instance of an object that implements that interface to use as its handler. The handler provided by HTC might unlock the phone if the user slides open the keyboard, or presses & holds the 'send' hardkey while pressing and releasing the 'end' hardkey. If the user wants a graphical alternative that works like the iPhone (or Eclair on the Droid, or whatever), he simply copies the relevant jarfile to his phone, and edits the config file so that at startup, it instantiates a KeyguardFactory object from the jarfile, then uses it to create an IKeyguardHandler-implementing object that gets registered with the OS. Of course, there's no reason why the actual end user would have to interact directly with the jarfile, the config file, or anything else... THAT part could all be automated by the .apk & its manifest. The point is, if HTC and everyone else had to remove their keyguard apps from Android, you can bet that within a week, there would be several dozen free apps floating around that did it anyway.

    At the end of the day, patent law only works as a real deterrent against people who need to sell tangible goods with an infringing component. If the infringing item costs nothing to make or distribute, Apple's lawyers could spend the rest of their lives playing whack-a-mole sending DMCA takedown notices to everyone and their brother who posts a copy of a keyguard app for Android somewhere, and it won't meaningfully stop anyone. Now, it WOULD give Apple a marketing advantage over Android, because then they could argue that an iPhone comes out of the box with keyguard, while Android phones officially can't do it (even if it ends up being one of the first three apps every new Android owner ends up downloading and installing, along with the task killer and tethering apps).

    If anything, Apple victories over HTC could almost be a good thing, by forcing Google to tweak Android's API to make it trivially easy for end users to re-implement and replace whatever Apple makes them take out to avoid being sued for infringement. Part of the problem people attempting to build independent Android distros for current Android phones have is the fact that the core OS might be open source, but most of the apps needed to make an actual, functioning phone are not... in particular, the one that could be generally described as "the phone app". AFAIK, nobody has rolled a completely functional "phone" app for Android from scratch yet. Ditto, for the "camera" app. It'll happen someday, but hasn't really happened YET. If Google were forced to rip important features from shipping Android devices, they'd have no choice but to focus on distributing open-source reference apps that could be used by independent developers as the basis for full-blown "phone" apps that, by any objective definition, might *egregiously* infringe upon Apple's patents. Regardless, Apple would have about as much success getting those independent, open-source apps banished from the earth as Microsoft would have trying to take Samba or FAT32 away from Linux users.

  • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @03:58PM (#31334498)

    Exactly - and thus the standard they set is supposed to be licensed under the same terms by ANYONE.

    NOPE. RAND only applies to the members of the GSM club. Apple want's to join that club and thereby gain access to RAND. Nokia is saying what they are bringing to the table isn't worth what they will get from it so they won't let them join the club without paying to join which would gain them access to RAND.

    It would be clinically stupid of the GSM authors to allow anyone to join the club and get the patents for free. To get free access you have to bring something worthwhile to the group (and be approved by current members), without that value you must buy your way in. Apple is trying to bully their way in and I hope they lose badly. In fact I hope ITC bars imports of the Iphone.

  • Compare and Contrast (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Swift2001 ( 874553 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @04:25PM (#31334886)
    "The Tea Parties and the sudden effusion of pathological Apple haters has erupted at about the same time." Discuss.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @04:54PM (#31335426)

    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.

    Obviously, not. Patents, by definition, can't be trade secrets, because (in theory) to get the patent you have to disclose enough information for someone else to be *able* to replicate the invention. It doesn't always work that way in practice, but that has nothing to do with your trade secret tangent. You know, you can actually read the patents involved if you like. (Don't stop at the title or summary though, because that's not where the actual useful information which discloses the details of the patent can be found. Read the claims instead, and understand the terms which indicate whether the claims, or groups thereof, must be read as a set, or can be read individually, that's very important.)

    How do you "do" two apps at the same time? Who doesn't multi-task these days?

    Most humans, actually. Very few people can actually multi-task. Most people try to emulate that by task-switching, which is exactly how the iPhone, iPad, and old PalmOS PDAs work. If the time to switch between the apps is short enough (and it seems to be with most apps), there is very little practical difference between bringing an already running app to the surface, and swapping which app is actually running. In practice, the most noticeable difference between a hand-held device where users task-swap and where users 'mutli-task' is that the battery lasts longer and apps perform more consistently in the task-swapping environment. Poorly written apps that take too long to load in a task-swap environment are the equivalent of poorly written apps that take too much memory for other apps to run well in a multi-task environment.

    How do I "do" Java and Flash? I mean if it is the best way to browse the web, then I assume it supports key web technologies.

    You really think Java and Flash are 'key web technologies'? I guess you're entitled to your opinion, but I don't have either on any of my computers, and I can't say I miss them, so I'd say the iPhone *does* support 'key web technologies'. YMMV

    How "do" I drag and drop music and documents onto my iPhone/iPad from Linux and Windows? Am I free to not use iTunes?

    Well, if someone else writes a utility to communicate with the iPhone/iPad, sure. That's not the angle Apple chose to go, so they didn't write that utility. They wrote a utility to organize your music collection, and transfer it to the devices they make. (Palm used to do that. It's really a shame they can't be bothered to do it any more.)

    How "do" I tether my laptop to my iPhone or ipad for internet access? Android has a wifi-tether app, is there an app for that on the iPhone?

    I don't own an iPad, but the iPhone can tether just fine. It'll be able to do so in the US once AT&T enables support for it on their network. That's not an Apple issue though.

    How "do" people who don't have an Intel based Mac write apps? I can write Android and Blackberry apps without needed specific hardware.

    Really? No specific hardware? I'd like to see you write an Android or Blackberry app on an iPhone then. No? How about an XO-PC? What, the tool-chain isn't ready for that yet? You need a Mac that's less than 3.5 years old to write software for an Apple device that's about 2 years old. That's not terribly specific.

    How "do" I release iPhone apps, without giving away my intellectual property and source code? Does Apple allow me to protect my trade secrets like it does?

    You plainly have no idea what you're talking about here. The only thing you've got to send to Apple to ge

  • by Stuntmonkey ( 557875 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @07:01PM (#31337428)

    The N1 has clearly touched a nerve at Apple. And for good reason: Objectively it's just a better device: Thinner, much better display, much faster, better camera, gps navigation, faster browser, not locked, not tied to AT&T's network, and so on. (Disclosure: I own both.) The Apple execs feel the threat, even though I'm sure Android isn't yet making much of a dent in their sales. It's about wanting to be perceived as the innovator. When you don't have the best product in the marketplace, you try to maintain the high ground by accusing the other guys of stealing from you.

    Yawn. Haven't we all seen this before? These patent fights never work. Remember when Apple sued Microsoft over their Mac GUI patents? How did that turn out?

    In principle patents offer protection and exclusivity, but in practice they do not for these large companies. The USPTO has been granting excessively broad patents for decades, the result being that every major company with a portfolio of (excessively broad) patents can legitimately sue any other for patent infringement. So all of the big companies decide to in effect declare a truce, and cross-license their patent portfolios so that someone can actually release a product. The real loser is the innovative small company, which can't foot the $xxM legal cost of counter-suing, etc. when a big company decides to go after them, or hasn't yet accumulated a portfolio of (excessively broad) patents with which to credibly counter-sue. I don't believe this is the outcome the authors of the Constitution had in mind for the US patent system.

    Apple of course understands this reality. This is just marketing and PR.

  • by Stuntmonkey ( 557875 ) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @07:43PM (#31352386)

    I've read many Nexus One reviews, and while it's clearly good competition for the iPhone, saying that it's objectively better is just plain silly. There are still many areas where it's lacking.

    To clarify, by "the device" I was referring to the hardware. I would stand by my assertion that the N1 is better hardware than the iPhone, by just about any objective measure. Where the iPhone really shines is the OS; it's a little more polished than Android -- and for some people this may trump the hardware and carrier disadvantages -- although IMHO Android is catching up fast (and I could point to a few areas where Android is better).

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