Updated: I’ve been wondering if and when it might happen and today’s the day — this morning I received notification that Apple is suing HTC for “infringing on 20 Apple patents related to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware.” Apple (s aapl) filed the lawsuit with both the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and the U.S. District Court in Delaware, which makes sense as HTC is a non-U.S. company. I’ve requested specific information from Apple on which specific patents are allegedly in question, but haven’t received a response as of this writing. I’ll put feelers out with HTC as well, but it could take the company some time to sift through the paperwork. My own digging on the USITC electronic document site came up blank.
Without knowing what patents are in question, all we know is that Apple filed a suit. Well, we know what Steve Jobs officially said, as well. You’ll sense a recurring theme as this isn’t the first I’ve heard this quote.
“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,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”
Now that Android growth is really humming, the suit seems as much about Google (s goog) than it does about HTC from where I stand. Google doesn’t make Android phones, but HTC does — it offers the largest array of Android handsets over any other phone maker. Going after HTC in this case is a roundabout way to go after Google. And HTC has often added iPhone-like features and functions to Android devices on their own, especially the ones that aren’t branded as “with Google,” making this suit a 2-for-1 special. Of course, I’m speculating on both of these points, but there’s a compelling argument to be made. Google is catching up to Apple in the smartphone market, due largely to HTC. While the suit could point out some HTC activities with their Windows Mobile (s msft) devices, I think HTC and Google are squarely in the bullseye for this one.
All Things Digital found what I couldn’t — the filed lawsuit on the USITC site. I’ve scanned the documents and two specific bit jump out at me:
“19. Certain HTC products imported into the United States comprise, include, or contain software based on an operating system known as “Android.” The products are referred to herein as the “Accused HTC Android Products.” Exemplary Accused HTC Android Products include the HTC Nexus One, the HTC Dream, which is sold commercially as the T-Mobile G1, the HTC Magic, which is sold commercially as the HTC myTouch 3G, the HTC Hero and the HTC Droid Eris.
20. Additional HTC products imported (or that HTC intends to import) into the United States include digital signal processing functionality. These products are referred to herein as the “Accused HTC DSP Products.” Exemplary HTC DSP Products include the HTC Touch Pro, the HTC Touch Diamond, the HTC Touch Pro2, the HTC Tilt II, the HTC Pure, the HTC HD2, and the HTC Imagio.”
Nearly all of the alleged infringements deal with interface activities and software functionality — items like remote access, using background processes and unlocking a phone through a gesture. Only the one DSP issue stems from the non-Android devices, so for all intents and purposes, this suit is squarely targeting the Google Android operating system used with HTC devices.
Related content from GigaOM Pro:
- Company Profile: HTC (free)
- Marketing Handsets in the Superphone Era
- With the iPad, Apple Takes Google To the Mat