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More on Apple vs. HTC

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).

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Reader comments

More on Apple vs. HTC

22 Comments

This just ticks me off. How did the patent office give apple these pattents in the first place.

You talk about "the system may receive data that includes a phone number, hightlight 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."

I have been a Windows Mobile user for about ever and Microsoft has had this in the OS for about ever, so to me this patent is not valid as there was existing art/code that did this.

I think/hope what comes out of this is that alot of Apple's patents are thrown out and revoked. We need patenet reform in this country as software patenets are getting out of hand. Oh did I tell you I am going to go patent comments on web pages now, so everyone must pay me :).

One of the patents Apple claims infringed upon is entitled "Unlocking a Device by Performing Gestures on an Unlocked Image". In essence your "slide to unlock" feature that is on countless phones, running a wide variety of OS. Heck it's even available in 3rd Party Apps such as S2U2.

Apple probably has the specific code for the iPhone "slide to unlock" feature patented and is claiming HTC is using that exact code or one so close it violates the patent law.

Why just HTC? If Apple is successful, would they turn lawsuits on other hardware/software vendors and operators?

This could get very messy. Perhaps, that's one of the other reasons that MS did a 'reset'.

WRT multi-touch, it was only a matter of time before Apple sued. We all knew that dance was coming.

I hope Apple doesn't have a case. It would be bad.

+1 and what multitasking does the iphone have? other then then ipod in the background...

If I hadn't already bought the Macbook Pro and iPod Touch that I own, I'd rethink those purchases based upon this information. Please Apple, don't make me start hating you now.

So apple knew about patent violations all that way back since the original touch pro and touch diamond, but yet waited until after windows phone 7 was announced to pounce on HTC? Hmmm...

Really makes you wonder. But it also looks like they're attacking Android more, I'm sure Apple doesn't wanna get into it with MS, been there, tried that, and lost, on the desktop over UI.

Still, I'd love to see this pull in Google at the least. That should make things VERY interesting since Google and Apple used to be bed buddies, guess the honeymoon is now officially over huh?

I would think that with all the WM "prior art" examples, Apple should not have been able to patent anything. This is really a good example of why software patents are not enforced around the world and why we need patent reform badly.

At least when MS patents somthing, at least from what I've seen, it's often very specific and documented well. Most of these Apple ones are so vague and general that they can turn around and just sue anyone like now.

But it just shows more, I think, that the people working at the patent office don't fully understand this technical stuff. They need a special division of the USPO that handles software only.

I have a friend who used to work at the patent office and he'd tell you the crazy horror stories, Apple files a patent and it's worded in such a way, plus it's just not one page but a boat load, and it just makes your head spin. Then to top it off you have a set time period to look over it and do something. It's too much for non-software engineer level people to handle.

I appreciate the concern which is been rose. The things need to be sorted out because it is about the individual but it can be with everyone.
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vernon getzler
apple iphone
hello members please reply on this topic..

I will NEVER buy another apple product as long as I live. They think they are the ONLY oneas allowed to produce technology. Jobs will rot in hell when all is said and done!

apple are just jealous because they know the iphone is just a piece of crap. bye bye lack of feature iphone when window pbone 7 comes out it going to blow away this piece of junk iphone. too bad htc knows why they use windows phone because they are more efficient than crap iphone. now i know my they have not gotten flash for 3yrs now which is a joke phone. lol... bye bye all apple fanbots your iphone is just a junk phone.

i think apple is trying to bring this up because currently (from what i can see) HTC windows mobile and Android phones are owning the market! I see EVERYONE with an HTC and it has become such a huge success over the past few years and i think Apple is afraid that the trend of apple users will step away from apple and hop in the HTC (android or win mo) train and they feel sorry they were exclusive to ATT because if they weren't i think it would have had much bigger trends i meant sales across the US. Apple is afraid since that HTC is going to be releasing the HD2 on T-Mobile (which im getting and loving the small price tag) and in the future windows 7 phones...it will blow the rest of the Iphone sales away so they are trying their best to stop this as early as possible. but is it gonna happen? Hopefully not because i want my HD2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So don't mess this up for me apply so ill trash my Ipod touch which i used for about a week and got massively bored of it... it sits in my car collecting dust...dont even use it as my MP3 player...never updated the music...i ono now im just rambling but if Apples ruins the HD2 for me ill hate it even more... this time with a Passion :)

I think time has arrived to think seriously about our patent policies. Apple search and built new devices instead of filing sues for every technology.

ok, this functionality they have mentioned was in my htc himalaya back in the early 2000's

The functionality is provided by the WinMo core surely, not the device itself, so going after HTC for this initially seems silly...but could this also be a sneaky way of getting it proved in court that the WinMo system itself violates the patents?

if THAT is proved, right while they're building WinMo7, MS will be forced to remove this functionality from the WinMo7 core

According to these patents, smartphones didn't exist until Apple came along. As a side note, pssssst... Steve. The iPhone isn't a SMART phone.

Something very similar to this happened about a year or so ago in the Paintball world. Smart Parts, owned by the Gardener's, suddenly made a ton of patents on just about anything related to our paintball guns (markers to be more "PC"). They made, as an example, a hugely vague patent on the electronic trigger mechanism that just about every modern marker uses today. They made other patents that were so hugely vague to other mechanical operations of markers, almost to the point of patenting the air pressure launching the paintballs out of the barrel! Most of this was public domain, free for ANYONE to use in designing their equipment. It would be as crazy as if someone suddenly got it into their tiny mind to patent Linux code, and force every free developer to pay or cease.

They put a number of companies out of business when they sued, and forced the big players to pay them a ton of $$$$ for both present, and past sales of their markers! They nearly put Paintball as a recreational sport out of business before the economy did.

At least some justice prevailed though! Last I heard, Smart Parts had gone bankrupt, and all their property was seized from the Gardeners! Imagine the justice if Jobs lost Apple? One could only hope!!!!! Not to mention how he got so rich over the dead or near dying bodies of his employees over the years (see the Pirates of Silicon Valley).

This really p*sses me off.. iPhone have sat there watching all these phones being released and said nothing because they thought the iphone was gonna be top forever, now the HD2 and all the android devices are really hitting it BIG TIME they decide to put an end to it.. personally I dont think they'll get very far with the case, from what I can gather they appear to have patented "actions with graphics" and theres only so far that can hold up surly. ARGH this makes me wanna get rid of everything Apple... oh yeah I dont have ANYTHING apple lol, lets see.. Zen.. better sound quality... Windows.. everything works... windows mobile.. multitasking, camera with flash, better quality applications not ones that just make a fart sound.. We dont need apple, boycot the pricks

Sorry, but NEVER EVER forget the slick tongues of (sleazy) lawyers!!!! Nothing is ever cut & dried, simple. In the Paintball example I gave, no one thought SP would get away with vague patents and win, yet they did. Ages ago, I lost everything I owned thanks to an incompetent driver for a moving company (a very BIG name company). It was a simple case of negligence that anyone could blatantly see. Yet *I* almost lost the law suit, and had to settle for pennies. So no, once it gets to lawyers, anything can happen. Be afraid, very afraid of what could happen here!