Apple thought it could crush HTC legally, but the small phonemaker has proven feisty in court. It has launched a bold counterattack against Apple's ultra-profitable empire with a new lawsuit filed this week.  (Source: Warner Bros. Pictures)

HTC claims that Apple's Mac computers infringe on three patents in its small library of intellectual property.  (Source: Frijole)
Asian phone-maker refuses to submit to Apple's legal might

Faced with an uncertain fate ranging from licensing submission to complete removal from international markets, top Android handset manufacturer HTC Corp. (SEO:066570) has vowed to defy Apple, Inc. (AAPL) to the end. 

Apple has already sued HTC in a variety of international courts [1][2], asking local trade organizations to temporarily ban imports and sales of HTC's popular smart phones and tablets.  If Apple wins its lawsuits, that temporary bid to stifle the competition could turn permanent.

HTC this week fired back, filing a new lawsuit against Apple "
HTC Corp v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware, No. 11-00715", which claims Apple's iPads, iPhones, iPod, and Mac computers infringe on a trio of patents HTC acquired in 2008 and 2010.

The company is seeking compensatory damage, and triple damages for Apple's "willful" infringement.  The company indicated it would likely file a new complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission, looking to fight fire with fire, seeking, once again, an import ban on Apple's products.

Just weeks ago HTC's leadership had expressed willingness to work with Apple towards a fair and reasonable cross-licensing scheme.  Apparently those talks fell through, either because Apple's demands of financial fealty were too exorbitant or because Apple simply is hoping to use the courts system to crush its rival.

The odds certainly seem stacked against HTC.  Apple has way more patents -- 3,000 U.S. patents, compared to 58, at last count [source], in the U.S. (this number likely went up slightly with the recent acquisition of S3 Graphics).  Apple has way more cash on hand to hire elite legal representation, a perk of being the world's most profitable tech company.  And Apple has already won the first round in court, securing a preliminary single judge ruling that finds HTC guilty of infringing 2 of Apple's 20 claimed patents.

Still, HTC vows to defy Apple's imposing might.  It will look forward to contesting its multiple countersuits against the Cupertino firm in court.  It also awaits a critical Dec. 6, 2011 appeal of the initial U.S. ITC decision that found HTC's smart phones to infringe on Apple's intellectual property.

In short, if there's fear in the HTC camp, it sure isn't showing it as it prepares to lock legal arms with Apple in a potential life-or-death battle.

And support may be on the way for HTC.  Google Inc. (GOOG), maker of Android OS yesterday announced plans to acquire Motorola Mobility, Inc. (MMI) for $12.5B USD.  The deal brings Motorola's war chest of 17,000 patents into the greater Android camp.  In other words, if HTC can simply hold Apple off long enough, Google may come through and market freedom may be preserved..

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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