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Apple sues HTC for patent infringement [U]

updated 10:05 am EST, Tue March 2, 2010

Apple claims HTC violates 20 iPhone patents

(Update with lawsuit details) Apple today sued HTC for allegedly infringing on 20 patents relating to the iPhone. The simultaneous International Trade Commission and Delaware complaint accuses Taiwan-based HTC of copying elements relating to the iPhone's interface as well as its hardware and "underlying architecture." The American firm doesn't say what damages it seeks but claims HTC is thieving its technology rather than being original.

"We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We've decided to do something about it," Apple chief Steve Jobs said in a statement. "We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."

HTC is known to have been one of the more aggressive competitors to Apple in design, if not necessarily market share. It has developed a reputation of adding software features ahead of OS developers; it implemented multi-touch in the Android-based Hero even before Google had support. It accomplished a similar feat for Windows Mobile 6.5 with the HD2 and is best known for major interface layers such as TouchFLO on Windows Mobile devices and Sense UI on both Android and Windows Mobile. These have often centered on much more touchscreen-friendly interfaces and widgets.

Hardware design has only sometimes taken a cue from Apple, though this became more direct just last month with the unveiling of the Legend, whose unibody aluminum design with black inserts bears a more than passing resemblance to the original iPhone. It's not clear how much of the Legend or any of HTC's best-known software is affected by the lawsuit.

Update: HTC has officially responded to the lawsuit and says it hasn't been served the formal notice as of yet. However, it claims to be a "mobile technology innovator" that has patented many things of its own for the past 13 years. It declines to comment on whether or not any claims in Apple's lawsuit are valid.

An early discovery of the complaints ahead of their official posting online shows a number of broad-based patents at the heart of the suit, including gesture-based device unlocking, using heuristics in a touchscreen interface, and multiple power management techniques. Most of HTC's major smartphones from the past two years are cited as examples, including the Nexus One, the HD2, the Pure, all Touch Diamond and Touch Pro variants, and T-Mobile flagships like the G1 (Dream) and myTouch 3G.

The nature of the devices is superficially random and includes phones both with and without TouchFLO or Sense UI as well as Android and Windows Mobile, although Engadget notes that the Android phones were included specifically for their inclusion of Google's OS; it's not evident if the issue is Google's OS or simply the HTC features that Android enables. Windows Mobile devices are included primarily for hardware complaints.

by MacNN Staff



  1. slapppy

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Now go get the rest of those copy cats.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. macjockey

    Joined: Dec 1969


    the big gorilla pounds his chest again and tries to claim his dominance.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. ibugv4

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not buying it

    The HTC phone shown and the iPhone EDGE models look nothing alike. If you're so stupid to think they look the same, you'd also think that any Geek Squad Beetle was a Police Cruiser based on paint job (which in california they cannot be the two-tone black and white because Californians are that stupid).

    Wait Apple is from California. Hm.

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    who owns what?

    I can see the whole question of who owns what in relation to touch and multi-touch technology becoming extremely convoluted. Clearly, Apple think they know what they own(!).

    Comment buried. Show
  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    yet again

    More useless software patent disputes! Woohoo!

    Comment buried. Show
  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The American firm doesn't say what damages it seeks but claims HTC is thieving its technology rather than being original.

    That's right. They should do it the way Apple does. They buy their technology.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. luckyday

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Just read the most of the Complaint.

    Apple makes it sound like they are a bunch of original idea, but in reality they are a bunch of patents that relate to common and mundane actions, like interaction between foreground and background processes. I didn't see any mention of multi-touch. but I didn't read the whole thing. But it does seem like it should be targeting Google and Android and not HTC. Was Apple to scared to attack Google?

    I think Apple is going to get pounded by the industry if it keeps this up. The phrase "don't throw rocks in glass house" comes to mind.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    If you can't innovate...


  1. slider

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Sorry - It was bound to come.

    Since the iPhone came out in 2007, it's seemed to me like many iPhone-like phones were dancing around flat out copying the UI, and look and feel of the iPhone and as time when on without so much as a word from Apple these companies just jumped in and imitated most of the iPhone's features; and HTC is probably the biggest offender.

    I know it sounds like fanboy ranting, but I've praised companies like Palm that actually developed a good product with its own UI, look and feel, and some very interesting features. Even the new Windows 7 series phone looks to have some originality to it.

  1. ZinkDifferent

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Look at....

    The HTC phone so conveniently pictured by MacNN - it is built upon a 'unibody' aluminium body design.

    It is no accident that on the same dat Apple was awarded the patent for unibody construction:

    That they sued HTC for a design which is not just derivative, but which surprisingly mimics the upcoming primary design elements of iPhone 4 - basically, flatten HTC's model, and you end up with something quite similar to what we'll see this summer.

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