More on Apple vs. HTC (Read: Android?) Patent Lawsuit

Jobs iPhone Patented!

While precious little new information is coming to light about Apple's just-announced lawsuit against HTC, a lot more specu-nalysis has been hitting the blogsphere, ranging from "Apple is seeking a cross-license to get HTC's patents" (shades of the accusations facing Nokia about their lawsuit against Apple), to "Steve Jobs feels personally betrayed by Eric Schmidt and is using HTC to get at Google's Android".

  • Niley Patel over at Engadget has done his usual, spectacular job digging through the patents in question and surfacing what looks to be behind them. 10 are for US court, 10 for the ITC. He also points out that these lawsuits can be settled tomorrow or can drag out 10 years.

  • Jesus Diaz of Gizmodo tackles the love affair and nasty breakup between Apple and Google, positing that after Apple made Google CEO Eric Schmidt a board member, and Google saw the iPhone dominating mobile web browsing, they "betrayed" Apple to try and seize that market for themselves. Having lost out to Microsoft in the Mac vs. Windows last-generation war, Giz thinks Apple has $40 billion ways to try and make sure the same doesn't happen to the iPhone in the upcoming next-generation mobile platform war.

  • John Gruber, the Daring Fireball, repeats his "if you can't beat 'em, sue 'em" quip from when Nokia sued Apple, and thinks Apple is making a "terrible mistake" suing HTC. He also despises the idea of UI patents.

  • Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch think Apple is suing HTC for the same reason Nokia sued Apple: to get a cross-license on patents. What could HTC have that Apple would want? (Aside from 480p screens, but it's mostly TiPb who wants those...!)

  • Our own editor-in-chief Dieter Bohn, writing for PreCentral.net, thinks that if Apple is engaged now with Nokia and HTC -- who have significant patent portfolios all their own -- maybe the threat of mutually assured destruction is no longer enough to keep Palm out of the patent pugilism. That does raise the question of who is next?

The US Patent Office seems to be granting everything up to and including Facebook's recent win for ridiculously broad "the feed". So we're guessing we'll be seeing more rather than less of these lawsuits as time goes on (unless there's some unlikely software patent-shaking decision spillover from the Supreme Court over Bilsky...)

For most of us, however, just like Nokia vs. Apple, it will remain a spectator sport, so about all we can do is pass the patent popcorn and watch. First round no-contest, or 10 slobberknocker, we'll have to wait and see...

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 27 comments. Add yours.

Andrew Sansone says:

This story was a Trending Topic on Twitter today http://bit.ly/98RjsK Will there be backlash for Apple?

Will says:

Sounds to me like Apple is spooked by the prospect of real competition from Android 2 and Windows Phone 7 devices.
Without a doubt HTC makes the best Android and Microsoft phones so Apple are trying to kill two birds with one stone!

JNM says:

PATENT REFORM. Please!
There would be no reason for this if companies and individuals were forced to be absolutley clear in patent filings and patents were not handed out so easily. It is a real mess that will be extremely difficult to clean up...but it must be done.

jzajzz says:

This topic is misleading ... A lot of the patents that Apple are suing dont have much to do with the IPHONE ... they are OLD patents most designed for MAC OS .. Of course we all know Android is more advanced than the IPHONE OS .. since Iphone os in intentionally restricted ... so the Iphone references are almost moot... it's more like MAC OS vs Android.

tis says:

After reading over some of the allegations, Apple clearly does not understand that most of the patents are infringe on the GNU licenses under Linux, which is the code for many of the programs in android and the code must be published to the public. So I do say good luck to Apple, since Android is based on Linux unless the source code, is a drastic departure. All HTC has to do is ask android to do is make a central repository publicly accessible. Microsoft ran through this 7 years ago while trying to stop GNU licensing and well failed miserably now it’s Apples turn to get licked by the GNU. Microsoft is now smart enough to know when the GNU licenses will win in court. Sad day for Apple, it was childish and well, proves that corporate person hood alive and like giving soap to a baby.

Paris says:

All of the Apple haters are screaming for patent reform and all the Apple fanpeople just the along for sheer drama (as long it does not effect their fav products adversely)... Patent infringement is unfair and it's cheating regardless of what "side" your on.... Let the courts sort this out... However, how many of you pirate apps/music/use jailbreak...EXACTLY It's the same thing... Look at yourself before running your mouths off (or keyboards)....
If you don't like someones patents then buy usage permission or patent them FIRST (you know- for those really "obvious" things)... If you a have great idea/product why should someone get a free ride?

dev says:

@Paris
Obligatory "Apple hater" comment: tell Apple that regarding GSM patents, which they have used for going on 3 years without licensing
Obligatory "Apple fanboy" comment: Apple is only protecting what they discovered.
And pirating music is not the same thing as patent infringement. In the former, an artist/producer has clear title to the sale and reuse of their works, and that title is inherent in the production. In the latter, a limited duration monopoly is granted on a particular technology provided, among others, that technology a) has not previously been in use, b) is a non-obvious implementation of an idea.
The point is not that patents are inherently bad, it is that patents are granted for increasingly silly reasons, without regard to a) or b). Since the late 1980s/early 1990s, the USPTO has disregarded thorough investigation in favor of granting patents quickly, and letting litigation settle the issue later. This is especially egregious in software patents, where this policy has led to a trend of companies patenting concepts, not implementations. Just a few examples:

  • IBM has patented the idea of dynamic page lists with several patents in the last 1980s. Arguably, most paginated software (including tipb's forums) should be paying IBM for use of this 'patented technology.' ( http://www.freepatentsonline.com/4709348.html )
  • Not to be outdone, Microsoft has patented document pagination based on hard breaks in a document. Technically speaking, any word processor should be paying Microsoft for use of this 'patented technology' ( http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7213203.html )
  • While Apple is touting open standards, they have sought and been granted a patent on the use of CSS transforms in animation of web-based content. No browser can implement html5, nor can any web author create dynamic pages using (ahem) standard markup, without using Apple's 'patented technology.' ( http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2009/0228784.html )

What is the common thread behind these patents from three different companies? They all deal with concepts, not implementations. That is the problem.
I agree that Apple should have the right to unleash the fury of every lawyer in their arsenal if somebody creates a phone that uses their particular flavor of Projected Capacitive Touch screen. For some of the patents there, Apple may have a case. But patenting the very idea of rubbing a finger against an image? Sorry, no. HTC should not have to pay Apple for their customers to use their fingers any more than I should pay Apple for using my thumb instead of a quarter to rub the crud off a lottery ticket.

Limegrntaln says:

I don't know why apple is messing with HTC over andriod. Andriods OS was designed by Barney and Friends with a box of 64 count crayolas. The absolute ugliest gayest phone OS there is. Andriod superior? Someone needs to get their head out of their ass

CJ says:

People, the point of lawsuits like this are rarely about right or wrong. It's more about leveling a financial deathblow to a company. Winning isn't necessarily the goal, it's just an added plus. This is about making HTC bleed money by dragging it out, deposition after deposition.

ken says:

@Gregg First try to spell android right before trying to down talk it..... its your opinion on how you think android OS is but many I know say iPhone OS is boring (3 years boring)

LonerATO says:

As an Apple guy all my life I cant help but think that Apple is becoming more and more like Microsoft.

Lady Kaede says:

Agree with everything dev says here - but the patents were granted and unless HTC's got something Apple wants (still pondering that) it's going to the judge.
@Jerry - I've read the excellent Engadget write-up now, so I have a better idea of what's being patented. The newer, phone-related patents are more likely to stick, I think, but like I said I agree with dev. But a 'restricted' OS is not necessarily a 'less-advanced' OS. It depends on whom and what it's for. In any case, if there hadn't been an iPhone OS there almost certainly would never have been an Android.

L££T says:

Whoa Whoa Whoa Apple Hold up one moment. Why on earth would you bother sueing HTC
Leave the fight toward sales just make the next iPhone better why fight about stuff we already know is amazing and a defination of innovation

jzajzz says:

@ladyKaede I wouldn't necessarily say there would not be an Android OS if Iphone OS didnt exist ..but maybe you might want to say Android OS would not be the same... I can agree with that..
but that goes for everything .. Iphone OS would not be the same without PALM OS , Blackberry OS and WinMo OS etc... that's technology people make advances on others' innnovations...

jzajzz says:

@Paris.. .Apple 's patents that they are suing for are not APple's innovations... they are just patenting somebody else's ideas..
The breakthrough that Apple made with the Iphone were
- the Web Browser.. and that is Open source .. not patented..
- Capacitive touch .. Not Apple's Idea
- Multitouch - Not apples' idea .. first to implement it on a smartphone but not their idea
I can go on.. and as you can see they HAVE not sued about these... the patents in the lawsuit are old patents.. that are not even innovative.. that you can find in any destop OS and most smartphone os's .

Tallbruva says:

AndroidGuys.com has this quote:
Steve Jobs from back in 1996. During a PBS documentary called Triumph of the Nerds, he was quoted as saying the following:
"...Picasso had a saying he said good artists copy great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas."
So Mr. Jobs, if Apple got to where it is stealing ideas, why are you angry that others are doing the same thing to you? Not a question really.... just things that make you go, hmmmmm?

kev says:

Apple just showed everyone where the technology of smartphones was going. Just like Philips did with the first plasma tv. Now we all have flat panels. You don't hear Philips suing Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, Panasonic, etc.......

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