We've had a chance to sit down and read both the lawsuit and International Trade Commission (ITC) complaint that Apple has filed against HTC. In a nutshell, Apple is accusing HTC of manufacturing, importing and selling technologies developed by Apple and protected by their patents without a license to do so. The claims involve twelve HTC products which includes seven Windows Phones; the Touch Pro, Touch Diamond, Touch Pro 2, Tilt2, Pure, Imagio, Touch 3G and the HD2. The remaining five phones are Android based phones (Nexus One, Dream, Hero, Droid Eris).
For more on Apple's claim's, read on past the break.
Apple's main complaint against phones running Windows Mobile is that these phones infringed on Apple's patents involving digital signal processing functionality. The complaints against the Android phones becomes a little more complicated and numerous.
For example, Apple contends that HTC infringed on their patent entitled "System and Method for Performing an Action on a Structure in Computer-Generated Data". Reading from the ITC complaint Apple describes this patent as generally relating "to a computer based system and method for detecting structures and performing computer-based actions on the detected structure.".
Apple continues by giving this example, "the system may receive data that includes a phone number, highlight it for the user and the, in response to a user's interaction with the highlight text, offer the user the choice of making a phone call to the number."
In reading Apple's claims one would believe that they hold the patent on touch screens, slide-to-unlock, multi-tasking, power regulation and the smartphone design in general. But it's not so much the functionality that is the issue but rather the code or software driving that feature. How the software is written (both in the patent and HTC device) will likely determine if HTC infringed on Apple's patents.
In the ITC complaint, Apple is seeking relief in the form of a permanent limited exclusion order prohibiting the questioned devices from being sold, manufactured, distributed or stored in the U.S. The Federal lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of Delaware, is requesting a Jury Trial and seeking a similar exclusion order plus damages, attorneys fees, cost, and other expenses.
Our friends at Android Central have heard from an HTC representative who offered:
"We only learned of Apple's actions based on your stories and Apple's press release. We have not been served yet so we are in no position to comment on the claims. We respect and value patent rights but we are committed to defending our own innovations. We have been innovating and patenting our own technology for 13 years."
This has the makings for a long, drawn out legal battle between Apple and HTC. It wouldn't surprise many if at some point Google and Microsoft may be pulled into the fray as well.
There is a remote possibility that the Federal suit could be dismissed by way of a motion for Summary Judgment. Basically, this is a motion HTC may file with their response to the claims asking the Court to dismiss the litigation because it lacks merit. I'm not familiar with ITC's investigative procedures but a similar mechanism could be in place to end that complaint as well. Regardless, I'm sure this isn't the last we'll hear on this issue.
For those wanting to read the full text of the ITC Complaint and Federal lawsuit you can find both at Digital Daily. As things develop on the Windows Phone front of these complaints, we'll keep you updated. For the Android and Apple angles, check for updates over at Android Central and TiPb (The iPhone Blog).