18 Comments

Summary:

HTC says nearly all Apple product lines infringe on patents it owns, and it wants compensation. On Tuesday, the Taiwan-based Android smartphone maker filed a lawsuit against Apple, saying that Macs, iPads, iPhones, iPods, AirPort, Time Capsule and Apple TV infringe on three patents it owns.

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HTC says nearly all Apple product lines infringe on patents it owns, and it wants compensation. On Tuesday, the Taiwan-based Android smartphone maker filed a lawsuit against Apple in the U.S., saying that Macs, iPads, iPhones, iPods, AirPort, Time Capsule and Apple TV infringe on three patents it owns. This type of lawsuit has lately become standard operating procedure in the mobile world, but now even products that are not mobile devices are getting swept up in the ongoing mobile patent wars.

HTC has asked the U.S. District Court in Delaware to ban the import and sale of all the products mentioned above and has asked for compensatory damages as well. Because it has accused Apple of willfully infringing on its patents, it wants three times the compensatory damages. Apple did not have a comment on the matter.

If you feel like you’ve read this story before, it’s because this is the second lawsuit-go-round between these two. Apple initially accused HTC of violating 20 of its patents in 2010, and HTC responded later that year with its own suit claiming that Apple infringed 5 HTC mobile patents. Apple won an initial victory in July, with the International Trade Commission finding HTC violating two Apple patents. Now it appears the Android phone maker is looking to broaden its legal strategy by expanding its patent-related claims outside even mobile devices.

But this isn’t new for the industry. Similar stories are playing out throughout the mobile ecosystem, sweeping up nearly every major player in the category. Using patents to play offense against your mobile competitors has become necessary to survive. So too has playing defense, which is how we arrived at Monday’s rather startling Google announcement that it intends to purchase Motorola Mobility, which appears to be all about the mobile device maker’s patent trove.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Johan Larsson

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  1. The problem is not patents but rather the lack of brains at the US Patent office. They are allowing patenting of DNA sections. While they cannot stop you of having the dna – yet – they can stop anyone else of testing for specific illnesses that involve that dna.

    This is getting very weird folks. very weird.

    and scary.

    1. I am sure this is exactly what the patent process was created for.
      “I invented a hammer, it will revolutionize how we build houses. It will bring affordable housing to millions.”
      “Sorry, but I took out the patent on the wooden handle. And you can’t have a hammer without the wooden handle. Pay me.”
      “Well sucks for you, because I took that patent out on wood.”
      “Too bad; I trademarked wood.”

    2. Can you provide evidence for this?

  2. The parallel to the motion picture business, when at some point in time (1986?) the Producer/lawyer became more important than the Writer or Director comes to mind. Patent lawyers are the new stars, it’s where the money goes, not to entrepreneurs and developers.

    You can take a look through all of the movie titles of the 90’s and 00’s to see what this results in.

  3. Richard Garrett Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    One thing HTC didn’t sue over – earbud technology. Its probably just a matter of time, though. ;)

  4. DisgustedWithPatentTrolls Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Patents based on ideas should never be granted. Unless a patentee has a working prototype, they should not be allowed to patent anything! I wonder who is going to try and patent breathing air? Seems that one would be pretty valuable! (ya see, its based on the same principle as most of the patents that are based on intangible ideas simply because most patent holders are too stupid to actually build what they patent.) some of these patents should be handled like cybersquatting….if you have an idea but someone else actually has a working product, unless you have cause to keep that patent, it can be reversed and given to someone actually smart enough to create something shiny and new. And if thats not a good idea, then all patents must have a working prototype built wgether software, tangible goods, etc. Or the patent will be invalidated. So all you patent trolls, quit being d1ckh3ads and go find another business model, this one isn’t helping anyone!

  5. About time I think.

  6. Hemendra Kumar Saini Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    It is really good to see an american company being sued by asian one, as all of american thinks that its asian who copies them but it is an american who copied the asian.

    1. Shut up or I’ll patent rice and pointy hats.

    2. All americans think that, do they? I personally wasn’t looking at this issue along nationalist or racial lines, but thanks for elevating the discourse.

    3. “all of the americans” I hate when people use terms like that. How did you managed to meet them all? BTW I’m Indian, so you can’t say “all if the Indians think like you”

    4. Talk about racist.

  7. Anyone who truly wants to understand the patent wars (and the nature of patents in general) should listen to this collaboration between This American Life and NPR’s Planet Money.

  8. Not sure why the author referes to HTC TWICE as an Android phone maker as if this is all they do.

  9. I’m going to patent food and water, maybe Patent also living. I’d be rich

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