Apple's patent battle against HTC causing OEMs to reconsider Windows Phone

An initial ruling against HTC by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) is evidently starting to have ripple effects. The case was brought by Apple, who is accusing HTC of infringing upon 10 patents of which the ITC found HTC to be violating two. Two caveats: the ITC's ruling is preliminary and not final but, Apple just needs to win on one patent infringement claim to potentially halt imports by HTC into the U.S. [Read Nilay Patel's excellent piece at ThisIsMyNext]

The patents in question seem specifically tied to the Android OS and other firms seem to be taking notice. According to 21st Century Business Herald, based in China:

"Some of these vendors worry about the risk of becoming embroiled in patent infringement due to adoption of Android, and have drawn up three strategies to cope with potential impact. The three strategies are enhancement of support to Microsoft Mango operating system, promotion of smartphone customization by mobile telecom carriers for protection through binding common interest (especially carriers partnering with Apple and Microsoft), self-development of own operating systems, the source pointed out. China-based smartphone vendors Huawei Device and ZTE have planned to adopt Mango, the source indicated."

That's a very interesting paragraph. For one, Huawei is not yet a key partner of Microsoft for Windows Phone--so that's potentially new (even though it will matter more for Eastern markets). Second, we're evidently starting to see OEMs start to make contingency plans if these lawsuits continue to go forward. The reason why is because Google does not offer any protection against claims of patent infringement, contra Microsoft who will defend the OS in court to the chagrin of the OEMs. Combined with those continued licensing fees for Android and the speculation of further legal threats, Windows Phone is starting to look ike a good choice right about now.

Source: Digitimes/21st Century Business Herald; via Electronista

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Motorola is probably scrambling right now
  • **** em, if they come crawling back to MS asking for a license MS should charge them more than the rest of the OEMs imo.
  • lol cuz I'm sure that would go over well. Isn't that extortion?
  • lmao I wish moto would stop making android devices. Also it would be good for WP7 users.
  • As much as Motorola has improved and come back from near dead, I think that would be great. No disadvantage to more handset makers providing us with more Mango-flavored choices!! :-D
  • Doesn't 'Microsoft Mango' sound so much better than 'Microsoft Windows Phone 7',
  • I don't think it does. Besides, most consumers would at least know what Windows Phone 7 is but that would have no idea what Microsoft Maongo is because "Microsoft Mango" does not identify any Microsoft products.
  • I find Windows Phone Mango better..
  • ...and "Mango" is just one of an update of many more to come. So Microsoft would have to change their OS name every time...
  • if it sounds "Windows Phone Mango", then when later M$ changes it can be easily called "Windows Phone Pineapple" or so...
  • I liked when I heard xPhone. Seems to resonate with me.
  • both Microsoft and Google stand behind their customers and partners - the difference is that Google stands so far back its hard to see them :)
  • lawlz
  • actually they stand behind a corner of a wall while peaking and waving a small android flag, muttering "go OEMs i got ur backs"hmm i think im getting a little hostile at them, but this hands off approach is alil annoying
  • Google:Don’t worry about the wolf(Microsoft) nawing on our arm…Don’t worry about the greedy pig(Apple) walloing in your food..The wolf and the pig don’t know any betterMedia:OMG! google is standing up for their OEMsMaybe not the best analogy but you get the point.
  • This is just another example of why Android is good for the consumer but bad for the industry. Just look at all the lawsuits that Android has caused. It's not just because Apple, Microsoft, and Oracle are afraid of competition, it's because Android is built around stolen tech. Apple, Microsoft, and Oracle spent millions/billions of dollars over the years developing many of the patents that are currently embedded inside Android. Call them "patent trolls" if you want, but it should come as no surprise that they want to protect their investments. Nor is it helping Android's case that the courts are not siding with Google. If Google cared about their business partners they would do the right thing and license the patents. However, Google has become not just an arrogant company but a self centered one as well. OEMs are starting to realize that Google is only looking out for Google. So while Google rakes in record profits OEMs are stuck in court trying to keep their products from getting pulled from the shelf.
  • The handset manufacturers are raking in the profits too, figure 8. That's why Android is on so many devices with such a wide range of prices and specs. Google provides this OS for free- NADA, none, not a penny. There is no downside to that, so long as you can just kick a little to Microsoft, for the patents they own that Android infringes on, and Apple who seems to want Google out of the game, not just a small profit from the money that is flowing in. Google says it is all yours Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LG, ect. But, so is the downside to using it.
  • @snowmuttthe downside is, manufacturers getting banned in the US for infringing patents.. that is not a good strategy, even if they do make profits for a year or so!
  • @snowmuttwell there is a downside to no license fee now, which is this patent suit that they decide to go hands off, or at least its related...
  • Can you provide links to where the other OEMs said they are reconsidering WP7? I didn't see anything but hearsay about a company named Huawei.
  • lol don't look for logik or commoncents here. You will find now, only **** sumptions
  • What are the 2 patens that apple is fighting exactly?and i have no problems with OME droping droid for WM7. more phones for us.thats one thing i hate about iphone , your stuck with apple`s bad phone engineering and design.
  • I am no lawyer, and trying to figure these out hurt my head. But, as near as I understand, one patent is concerning creating "hyperlinks" (connection action) for data and text imputs. Basically, how your device processess actions within the hardware from a software input/command.The next patent is for a universal modem that supports voice, data and other types of data.Here are the links. Please feel free to correct me if I am way off base: links are copy and pasted from another posting on the "Phone Arena" website.
  • This sounds a lot like hear-say type stuff to me. HTC is appealing these infringement rulings, and has already beaten 8 of 10 of them. If HTC can turn away Apple, no harm done. If only one, or even if both, of these rulings go against HTC, will a judge REALLY bar HTC products from hitting the shores? I have a hard time buying the worst case here. Sounds extreme. If HTC had been found guilty on 8 of 10, than yes kick 'em out and they would desearve it. (I like HTC, but I mean that.) Not on 2 of 10. Sounds more like Apple will get a chunck of the Google profits, like Microsoft does. This is all driven by the fact that Google provides Android free and clear to handset makers, so long as advertisement $ keep flowing to Google. So any profits the handset maker gets off a Android powered device is theirs. That makes for a real cushy deal for both of the parties involved. Apple is fighting tooth and nail, but the profits and upside of Android will tip the scales every time and allow HTC, Samsung, and Motorola to continue to profit. Only Banishment from the U.S. shores would make a difference, and my opinion is there is no gross violation here to warrant that. You do not get sent to jail for life for trespassing or theft, only murder. No dead bodies here.So flocking to W7? No, not unless we the consumer make Mango devices a runaway hit. Promise to do my part....
  • Well I hate to say that it seems the patent laws seem to be on Apple's side on this one. Although these patents and a lot of other seems way to vague and make it hard for me to believe that there was no prior art somewhere. If Apple wins it seems they have already said that they are not looking for a settlement, but an outright ban. That is not good for any consumer. Even though I would love to see WP7 increase its market adoption.
  • Thank you Apple! You are making WP7 even stronger if you pass the law that blocks htc from selling many smartphone in US.
  • Its called divide and conquer, once android is down on one knee their main competitor is gone.
  • Wiser choice for more and more smart manufacturers, if they opt for Windows Phone would be delighted to see this realise..
  • Apple should do what msft doin, get money....