Print 25 comment(s) - last by nolisi.. on Jun 16 at 7:05 PM

Android phonemaker refocuses on playing defense to try to avoid more painful bans

As far as the U.S. International Trade Commission is concerned, the fight between Taiwanese Android phonemaker HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) and U.S. phonemaker Apple, Inc. (AAPL) is now officially a one-sided scrap, with Apple looking to pick on its smaller rival.

I. HTC Abandons Offense, Focuses on Defense

HTC completed its acquisition of S3 Graphics, which it bought largely due to hope of gaining leverage against Apple (S3 Graphics briefly won a complaint against Apple, but later saw its victory evaporate post-acquisition). HTC is now essentially entirely on the defensive after it decided to drop its appeal of the ITC's decision to reject its own complaint against Apple (parallel to S3 Graphics', but also rejected) in February.  Initially, HTC indicated it might appeal, but it now has decided to focus on playing defense.

Apple, which is much more profitable and reportedly employs a much larger legal team, convinced the ITC to rule in its favor last December, finding that certain HTC handsets infringed upon U.S. Patent No. 5,946,647 on a "System and Method for Performing an Action on a Structure Computer-Generated Data".

The patent is commonly shortened to the '647 patent or referred to as the "data-tapping" patent, given that it covers converting text to actionable links.  Apple’s Advanced Technology Group developed the patent in the mid-1990s.  At the time smartphones weren't even on the drawing board -- the patent was on how to make text into links that could be launched in multiple browsers.

Data tapping
"Data tapping" in its original form -- this is the technology Android handsets are being banned for. [Image Source: Apple Insider]

But over a decade later Apple realized it could potentially flex the patent to cover its processing of converting text into links so that you can, say, click on a phone number to call it.  Last month it briefly scored a ban on several of HTC's top handsets, despite the fact that the infringing feature appeared to have been removed from them.

II. More Bans In Store?

Google Inc. (GOOG) implemented a workaround, in part to try to protect HTC.  The new "App Associations" feature, auto-launches apps when a certain type of link is clicked, which differs slightly from the technology described in Apple's patent, in which the initial action of a click is to open a menu of options (with no auto-launch).

Still Apple is claiming the Android feature is within its broad interpretation of its patent's scope.  It's looking to hurt HTC with more anticompetitive import delays, filing its third complaint with the ITC earlier this month.  In that complaint it claims that 29 of HTC's Android handsets -- virtually all its smartphone lineup -- are in infringement of the '647 patent.

ITC Building
HTC hopes to defend itself from a third complaint by Apple who is looking to legally bully it.
[Image Source: Flickr/Freedom for Aardvarks]

It remains to be seen whether the ITC favors Apple yet again and buys into this refreshed effort to bully the smaller rival.  Apple has been dealt key losses in recent weeks, seeing its efforts to stop Samsung Electronic Comp., Ltd.'s (KSC:005930) Galaxy S III launch sink and seeing its case against Google subsidiary Motorola Mobility be thrown out of court "with prejudice".

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Apple are making fools of themselves
By flyingpants1 on 6/14/2012 2:42:48 PM , Rating: 5
Let's see here, Apple invented the smartphone, the rectangle, a thin piece of plastic, swiping your finger from left to right, clicking on links... Noone (not even Pirks or the most die-hard of fanboys) can seriously believe Apple invented everything and that all these patent claims are legitimate.

Usually most people aren't even aware of patent issues, but now I see mainstream users commenting on Facebook about how sleazy Apple is becoming.

As for people who DO follow the tech news, this patent trolling has even more of a polarizing effect. The point is to CONVERT Android users to the iPhone (THEY ARE OUTSELLING 2:1), not to confuse and scare them by being dicks.

Yeah now Apple is going to ban all Ultrabooks, I'm sure Intel, HP and everyone else will stand idly by and let it happen. Good luck with that. Maybe if you had gone for licensing fees, you would have had a shot. Just drop it already.

RE: Apple are making fools of themselves
By elleehswon on 6/14/2012 2:51:13 PM , Rating: 4
someone said it best in another thread, regarding to how Samsung and HTC should market their smartphones.

"Such great devices, that apple tried to ban the sale of them."

I, personally, don't see why Apple doesn't just try to build/sell a better product.

RE: Apple are making fools of themselves
By bug77 on 6/14/2012 3:21:46 PM , Rating: 5
I, personally, don't see why Apple doesn't just try to build/sell a better product.

Because if Apple had their way, there wouldn't be a better product. There would simply be THE product. And we'd be supposed to pay whatever Apple feels like charging.

By spread on 6/14/2012 6:29:04 PM , Rating: 1
I find your lack of faith disturbing. Apple will conquer and rule over all. Soon the rebellion will fall and remaining will be Apple. Bow down before it's too late, rebel scum.

By Natch on 6/14/2012 3:23:14 PM , Rating: 2
That would require effort, innovation, and progressive thinking, all of which Apple only doles out in miniscule amounts, and only when they feel they have to do it (not when their lemmings want it).

I'm hoping that the ITC will someday soon tell Apple, "Enough! You're trolling, and taking advantage of the system, and we've had enough!!" (but I won't hold my breath).

RE: Apple are making fools of themselves
By testerguy on 6/15/12, Rating: -1
RE: Apple are making fools of themselves
By Gondor on 6/15/2012 11:54:45 AM , Rating: 4
Original as in "stealing work of others and patenting it" ? Apple didn't invent context menu yet they somehow managed to patent it. Their neverending quest to rip off existing ideas and peddle them as their own is the only thing "original" about Apple.

By retrospooty on 6/15/2012 1:52:00 PM , Rating: 2
"Their neverending quest to rip off existing ideas and peddle them as their own is the only thing "original" about Apple"

LOL good point. They are very adept at that. They do have good points as well. They do push standards forward, as they are now with higher res screens. We all benefit from that. Kind of nerdy, but their supply chain management is nothing short of amazing. They are absolute masters at it. It's highly overlooked and under-appreciated how difficult it is, and Apple makes it look easy... But invention is not a strong point.

By nolisi on 6/16/2012 7:01:43 PM , Rating: 1
Also - while technically Apple is requesting a ban of the devices, that is not their end goal. The end goal is to force them to be original in areas where they have breached patents. The only way, it seems, that Apple can force them to do this is with the prospect of a ban

Complete BS; Apple has no interest in originality. Apples big moneymaker on the iPhone/iPad is the App Store- yet Apple has zero patents and zero lawsuits pertaining to this.

It's because HTC originally came up with the idea and implementation on the Sidekick in 2005. This is why Apple has to stick with lawsuits on minor gui patents on which they can't prove/quantify that any financial harm was done.

Apple's end goal has nothing to do with originality- their end goal is to monopolize the cell phone market by banning any competitor that has market superiority (Android is in the 60% range) that will have a difficult time fighting back due to limited patent portfolios. It's Apples only business strategy.

By nolisi on 6/16/2012 7:05:29 PM , Rating: 1
PS: You can't play this on an iPhone/iPad.

(Rap battle between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates)

RE: Apple are making fools of themselves
By testerguy on 6/15/12, Rating: -1
By Bateluer on 6/15/2012 2:15:51 PM , Rating: 1
Samsung's poor lawyers not withstanding, only a complete fool would mistake any Galaxy Tab model for an iPad. I have a Tab 8.9 and a Tab 2 7" and they're nothing like an iPad model. Even the TouchWiz UX used on them is very distinct from iOS.

In my Opinion
By matty123 on 6/14/2012 2:48:29 PM , Rating: 2
Apple are just wasting their money, even if they succeed in banning every HTC handset in the US, another android vendor {samsung} will just take their place.

While their are certain people who are loyal to brands most of the androids fans I have seen are loyal to the platform not a specific OEM and will happily move around from brand to brand as long as it is a android phone.

Apple will never succeed in banning all android phones {at least I believe so} so in a sense they are helping out their main rival {samsung} with this action. A ban for the iPhone would be far more catastrophic for the apple eco system than a ban on an individual android OEM.

RE: In my Opinion
By JasonMick on 6/14/2012 4:21:23 PM , Rating: 4
Scene 1

(In silicon valley.)

It's been more than 30 years since the wolf and the winter cold. / And now, as then, a beast approaches.

Patient and confident, savoring the meal to come. But this beast is made of men... swords and [lawyers]. Ready to snuff out the world's one hope for reason and justice.

Scene 2
(ITC Court)

Apple Lawyer:
[Apple] conquers and controls everything [it] rests [its] eyes upon.

[We] lead an army so massive, it shakes the ground with its march. So vast, it drinks the rivers dry.

All the God-King [Jobs] requires is this. A simple offering of [giving up Android]...

HTC Lawyer:
A simple offering of [giving up Android]...a token of [HTC]'s submission to the will of Jobs.


Now, that's a bit of a problem.

See, rumor has it...[Motorola has] already turned you down...And if those philosophers and [feature phone]-lovers
have found that kind of nerve, then...

Apple Lawyer:
Choose your next words carefully, [HTC].

...You threaten my people with slavery and death.

Oh, I've chosen my words carefully, [Apple]. Perhaps you should have done the same.

This is blasphemy. This is madness!


This is [Android]!


Final Scene
(In stores across the U.S.)

Now, here on this rugged patch of earth called [America] [Apple's] hordes face obliteration!

Just there the barbarians huddle, sheer terror gripping tight their hearts with icy fingers knowing full well
what merciless horrors they suffered at the swords and spears of 3 [Android phonemakers].

Yet they stare now across the plain at 10,000 [Android] [millions of] free [Android owners]!

The enemy outnumber us a paltry three to one.

Good odds for any [Android].

This day, we rescue a world from mysticism and tyranny and usher in a future brighter than anything we can imagine.

RE: In my Opinion
By bug77 on 6/14/2012 4:26:51 PM , Rating: 2
Now the truth is, the Persian army wreaked havoc throughout Greece for about two years after Thermopile, before they were finally driven out. Hopefully this is were the stories diverge ;-)

RE: In my Opinion
By testerguy on 6/15/12, Rating: -1
RE: In my Opinion
By nikon133 on 6/14/2012 5:13:35 PM , Rating: 2
And even if they do, millions of pi*sed off Android users will go to Windows Phone. Simple act of defiance.

Apple's new slogan
By daveinternets on 6/14/2012 4:18:03 PM , Rating: 2
"Why innovate when you can litigate!"

RE: Apple's new slogan
By retrospooty on 6/14/2012 4:23:44 PM , Rating: 2
"Sue different"
"There a lawsuit for that"
"Do as I say, not as I sue"
"We patented copying tech, so only we are allowed"

RE: Apple's new slogan
By testerguy on 6/15/2012 1:12:30 AM , Rating: 2
*Sue because you have a patent, not over FRAND*
*There's a lawsuit for that because you patented it*
*Don't do as I patented, or I'll sue*

RE: Apple's new slogan
By retrospooty on 6/15/2012 8:32:28 AM , Rating: 2
Oh look. Mr "I am not biased" has returned to defend Apple.

In this case, we aren't dealing in fact, I was simply replying to a joke with a joke about Apple's sue-happy mentality... To that you STILL just cant stand to see Apple insulted, but you aren't biased right?

As for the facts, I remind you Apple isn't doing well with these cases, and hasn't won anything at all other than 1 fluke case of a redesigned tablet in Germany. I will leave that for the courts to decide since arguing with you over the merit of Apple's cases is pointless. You're "unbiased" nature heavily tilts toward Apple no matter what the subject, whether hw, sw, or legalities.

Noboddy wins but the lawyers
By mars2k on 6/14/2012 2:46:47 PM , Rating: 3
I hope Apple continues to screw up. It's like a terrorist who blows off his own hands when he's making bombs. No sympathy there Apple. Concentrate on making a good phone instead of hating.

Apple vs HTC
By DANILO on 6/14/2012 3:26:12 PM , Rating: 2
Apple definitely with this all that is making fans of Andriod as I despise every day. HTC phones like the ONE X are much more quality teams than those of Apple and it hurts them a lot to them, so they want to destroy HTC but I think time will lose the quality always prevails over envy.

By sprockkets on 6/14/2012 5:16:06 PM , Rating: 1
You need to add to the article that apple's evidence of infringement involves the gmail app, which is not preinstalled on the phone. the truth never stopped apple's lawyers before.

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