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Summary:

More legal wrangles for Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) over patents as the smartphone market continues to heat up. The iPhone maker is suing rival hands…

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More legal wrangles for Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) over patents as the smartphone market continues to heat up. The iPhone maker is suing rival handset maker HTC, which makes devices using both Android and Windows platforms, for infringing on 20 Apple patents related to the device user interface, underlying architecture and hardware.

Apple did not offer any other specifics about how HTC may have been using its patented technology. In a statement, Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, said, “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.” The case was filed concurrently with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and in U.S. District Court in Delaware. Release

This is not Apple’s first visit to the ITC. Apple and Nokia have each filed cases against each other for patent infringements over the last couple of months. These cases are still pending.

This most recent suit against HTC doesn’t come as much of a surprise. HTC was the first phone maker to develop a device using Android, and it has been gradually ramping up its product line with other Android devices, including Google’s Nexus One launched in January.

Then last month, during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, HTC launched its newest device, the Legend, to much fanfare. With its sleek aluminum design and most up-to-date version of HTC’s Sense user interface, some are hailing it the biggest device since…the iPhone. This suit confirms that HTC may well be a competitor to be reckoned with.

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  1. Kudos to Apple, they finally decided to put their feet down. I knew there was a reason why all the newer SmartPhones had a similar look and feel. At the time I really couldn’t put a finger on it…but now it’s dawned on me… =) j/p I think when this is all said and done, and the dust have settled, Apple will have created a bigger and better device, and someone else will once again be playing catch up and trying to replicate Apple’s success.

  2. rstrawbridge Tuesday, March 2, 2010

    NookSurfer…really? Wow.
    They just picked a fight with Motorola, Microsoft, Google and a whole host of OHAs.
    Is that what they really want? They must be after a better solution…perhaps just to slow down the competition…this may not work out so well for them.

  3. I wonder if it’s in response to the Nokia suit.

    I’m not a big fan of the interface kinds of patents which I suspect these are. In my opinion it’s hard to defend and detrimental to the overall market to try and prevent interface improvements in competitors.

    There’s got to be some kind of logic to it though.

    I can’t actually remember the last time Apple preemptively sued someone over a patent infringement. The doomed case against Microsoft for windows is the last one I can remember.

  4. I have long wondered if Apple’s patent portfolio strategy around iPhone was designed to be a defensive move (block others from suing them) or an offensive one (block competitors), which I wrote about when they began amassing the portfolio:

    Upward Mobility, Land Grabs and the iPhone Universe
    http://bit.ly/lGw8

    In my opinion, the market is better served when there are fewer “toll roads” and economic landmines blocking innovation and competition, although it’s worth noting that both Google and Facebook were awarded seemingly obvious business process patents in the past week. so Apple is hardly alone in playing this hand.

    Mark

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