updated 08:25 pm EDT, Fri October 7, 2011
Google and T-Mobile oppose Apple ban on ITC gear
Both Google and T-Mobile attempted to stave off a possible ITC ban on HTC devices Friday with responses to the ITC's requests for input on Apple's win in the trade dispute before a December 6 hearing. T-Mobile wanted to deny a ban regardless of whether or not the ruling upheld infringement since it saw the loss of HTC's hardware as irreplaceable. Android buyers tended just to look for other Android devices, and Apple's suggestions of device picks as workarounds were disingenuous: it simply wanted to shut down competition from Android and suggested everything else that wasn't a similar threat, T-Mobile said.
"Tellingly, not even Apple's own suggested substitutes for HTC Android smartphones include Android smartphones from other manufacturers," the carrier told the ITC. "Apple identified only alternative operating systems to Android, such as its own iOS for iPhone, BlackBerry OS, and Microsoft Windows."
HTC among Android producers had a unique relationship, the network went on. T-Mobile launched the first Android phone with the HTC-made G1 in October 2008 and has been the home for other official Google phones, such as the Nexus One and Nexus S. The Amaze 4G will be one of T-Mobile's most important devices for the holidays without the option of an iPhone.
Instead, T-Mobile suggested, it wanted four to six months of transition to wean off of any alleged infringing hardware. Most of its argument was recasting its amicus brief in the Apple-Samsung lawsuit with the exception of its argument for preserving holiday sales.
Google was much more aggressive and wanted a denial of the ban no matter what the terms. It took an ideological tone and saw Android as a necessary force, providing choice and room for alternate app stores like the Amazon Appstore as well as developers. The firm tried to portray Apple as being over-controlling of its platform and that, as the largest individual US smartphone maker, it would only worsen competition and create an "entrenched monopoly" for Apple if HTC was taken out of the market.
Without HTC, the market "could drive up prices, diminish service, decrease consumers' access to the technology, and reduce innovation," Google said. The US military was using Android devices, and reducing Android's presence could hurt public safety. With reduced partnerships between phone makers and carriers, networks might not be developed, and innovation itself might be cut short.
Whether or not the arguments will hold any sway isn't certain and might be doubtful. Neither argument directly challenges the validity of the patent violation claims themselves. They maintained instead that market necessities outweighed the drawbacks of any possible duplication of Apple's technology. With the exception of T-Mobile's suggested transition, neither had a path that would get HTC out of the supposed infringement and negate the pressure for a ban.
Although the ITC might accept parts of HTC's appeal, Apple is still expected to get at least some of its claims upheld and might end up in the same position as if it won the dispute outright. HTC may be pushed into a settlement since it will have hardware taken off the market while it waits for its own counterattacks to go through the ITC and courts, where they might not necessarily be victorious. [via Florian Mueller]