Looks like Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) will have to dig in its feet for another legal long-haul tug-of-war, with a new team captain to boot. Today HTC has issued a formal response to yesterday’s suit filed by Apple at the International Trade Commission, accusing HTC of infringing on patents. The news comes on the same day that it was revealed that there appears to be some personnel upheaval underway within Apple’s legal team covering intellectual property, with its chief patent counsel out the door and a new hire off none other than HP.
Unsurprisingly, HTC has come out fighting against Apple after the latest claims accused the Taiwanese handset maker of violations related to “portable electronic devices and related software.” This is the second suit that Apple has filed with the ITC against HTC. The first is still pending.
In a written statement from HTC’s headquarters in Taipei, Grace Lei, general counsel, HTC Corporation, said:
“HTC is dismayed that Apple has resorted to competition in the courts rather than the market place. HTC continues to vehemently deny all of Apple’s past and present claims against it and will continue to protect and defend its own intellectual property as it has already done this year.”
HTC has yet to make any patent settlements with Apple, which is also bringing a suit against Samsung. Apple and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) settled their legal differences earlier this year after a multi-year, protracted battle.
There is a question mark, however, over whether we might see a change in strategy from Apple going forward. Reuters is reporting that one of the company’s senior legal team, Richard “Chip” Lutton Junior is leaving the company. Lutton had overseen Apple’s patent portfolio, according to the report.
At the same time, it looks like Apple has picked up a new legal eagle for its team. BJ Watrous, who has worked for HP (NYSE: HPQ) in the past, appears have joined Apple. According to his LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) profile, he is now “Vice President & Chief IP Counsel” for the company. His previous role at HP involved overseeing intellectual property and licensing.
Although Apple has been an aggressive player in the patent and trademark game, it has actually seen quite a few setbacks of late.
It’s quest to get Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) to stop using “appstore” has not progressed in Apple’s favor, and it had to make a big payout to Nokia to settle the dispute with the Finnish handset maker.
Meanwhile, the Samsung suit has continued to drag on, and may potentially upset Samsung’s relationship as a key supplier to Apple in the making of its best-selling wireless products. In today’s latest, Samsung has asked for potentially all of Apple’s external legal team at Bridges & Mavrakakis to be dismissed in the filing Apple made in the U.S. District Court of Northern California, over claims of conflict of interest. Turns out that some of them have worked for Samsung while at a different firm.