Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has finally made a countermove in the mobile patent proxy war, granting HTC the rights to mobile patents which HTC has now used to sue Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) in federal court.
Bloomberg reports that the patents were transferred to HTC last week from Google. They appear to be a collection of patents from Palm (NYSE: HPQ) and Motorola (NYSE: MMI), and it’s not clear how Google obtained them or why they are being used at this point, after years of patent-related attacks on Google’s Android mobile operating system and its partners by companies like Apple and Microsoft.
A Google representative confirmed that patents had been transferred but declined to comment further on the nature of how those patents wound up in HTC’s hands. An HTC representative was not immediately available to comment on the case.
The new patents from Google were added to an earlier suit that HTC filed against Apple in August, when it also filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission. Five patents were added to the complaint Tuesday that were owned by Google as recently as late August before being assigned to HTC.
For example, one the patents added to the case, patent number #7,289,772, was originally awarded to PalmSource, the division of Palm that was spun out of the company last decade to concentrate on developing Palm OS. That company (and the patents) were later acquired by a Japanese company called Access.
Last October, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recorded the transfer of that particular patent from Access to Google. And just last week, on September 1st, that patent was assigned to HTC. Google declined to comment on the terms of that deal, or how it managed to acquire the patent from Access in the first place.
Another patent, patent number #6,473,000, took an even more convoluted trip across the world, originating with Openwave Systems (NSDQ: OPWV) before winding its way to Myriad Labs in France. Google obtained that patent in October 2010 and transferred it to HTC last week.
HTC and Apple are no strangers to litigation, of course. Apple has sued HTC in several venues, including the ITC, over allegations that its Android-based smartphones and tablets infringe on patents held by Apple for its mobile devices. HTC has been contesting those cases as well as pressing an offensive against Apple’s Mac products, claiming they infringe on patents related to graphics technology.
A copy of HTC’s amended complaint can be found below, as well as here: