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HTC has offered to enter into some sort of cross-licensing deal with Apple to settle the pair's legal baggage.  (Source: Kevin Weeks)

Apple chief executive Steven Jobs has openly bragged about his expertise at "stealing" great ideas from competitors. However, he appears to believe that right is reserved for Apple as he has said that HTC "[S]hould create their own original technology, not steal ours."  (Source: European Pressphoto Agency)

HTC's innovation officer, Horace Luke, has left the company for personal reasons.  (Source: Boy Genius Report)
Will Apple be cooperative and agree to cross-licensing?

HTC Corp. (SEO:066570) is locked in a heated international court battle [1][2][3] with rival Apple, Inc. (AAPL).  Now the Taiwanese company is extending and olive branching and calling for a cross licensing deal.  The big question is whether Apple will accept.

I. Deal or No Deal - IP Edition

HTC's biggest trump cards is its recent acquisition of S3 Graphics, a graphics chipmaker who recently won a case against Apple contested before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).  

The ITC found that Apple violated two of S3's patents on graphics chips -- perhaps unsurprising for a company whose chief executive and co-founder, Steven P. Jobs, states [video], "Picasso had a saying - 'Good artists copy, great artists steal.' And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas."

But Apple has accused HTC of stealing.  Mr. Jobs has commented, "Competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."

And the courts have been kind to Apple, thus far, in the HTC case.  Apple has won a preliminary one judge ruling in the case, despite a recommendation by reviewers to dismiss the case on lack of merit.  The judge apparently saw things differently -- upholding two of Apple's twelve patents.

The net result is that, pending a full-panel review of the decision, the score between the smart phone makers appears to be a draw: 2-2.

HTC clearly feels it's on a level playing field -- or is at least pretending as such.  Chief financial officer Winston Yung comments in a Bloomberg interview, "We have to sit down and figure [a deal] out [with Apple]. We’re open to having discussions. We are open to all sorts of solutions, as long as the solution and the terms are fair and reasonable. On and off we’ve had discussions with Apple, even before the initial determination came out."

II. Level Playing Field?

The question is whether Apple will bite.  The problem is that some feel that it will be easier for Apple to move to new kinds of graphics chips than for HTC to remove the very generic technology covered by the Apple patents (one of which covers turning phone numbers, etc into actionable links and another, even more generic, one which covers hardware and software to offload video/audio to an off-CPU chip).

And according to the legal experts at FOSS Patents, Apple may be unwilling to deal, preferring to try to kill its competitor, removing it from the American market with a permanent injunction.  Writes FOSS Patents's Florian Müller:
But I doubt that Apple will offer HTC a license unless HTC owns or effectively controls any patents that Apple needs, in which case the two companies would cross-license. A company named S3 Graphics recently obtained an ALJ determination against Apple and HTC is in the process of acquiring that company, but I'm not sure Apple absolutely depends on a license to those patents.
Other observers offer similar skepticism that a deal will be reached.  One issue is that Apple is much bigger than HTC and has much more cash, so it's much better prepared to make sweeping, expensive changes to keep its product on the market.  And Apple stands to directly gain in sales if it can ban HTC from the U.S. and possibly other markets.  While such litigious efforts clearly seem wrong from a consumer perspective, it's unlikely they violate any sort of competition laws -- in the U.S., at least.

On the other hand, Apple is awaiting the outcome of lawsuits against [1][2][3] and countersuits with Motorola Solutions Inc. (MSI) and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (SEO:005930) on the same patents, so it could see its IP vanish before it could strike against Samsung.  If Apple opts to refuse cross-licensing, it could miss out on potential revenue -- particularly if the court battle with Motorola and Samsung goes badly.  These companies are expected to post a far stiffer challenge to Apple in court, as Samsung, in particular, has many times as many patents as Apple, both in the U.S. and abroad.

So will Apple try to kill HTC, as some fear?  Or will it extend an olive branch of cross-licensing?  It remains to be seen.  But at the very least, cross-licensing should not be viewed as a certainty.

III. HTC Loses Key Executive

There's a saying that good luck -- or bad -- comes in bunches.  HTC appears to be in a bit of a bad luck slump.  It's just received news that Horace Luke was resigning from his post as chief innovation officer at HTC, as reported by the Boy Genius Report.

HTC released a brief statement, commenting:

Horace Luke, HTC’s chief innovation officer, has left HTC for personal reasons. Horace nurtured a culture of innovation at HTC and instilled a strong consumer design-focus among our employees who continue to raise the bar in designing products that capture our customers’ imagination.

We are grateful for Horace’s many contributions to HTC and wish him well in his future endeavors. Scott Croyle, HTC’s vice president of design, has taken over Horace’s responsibilities and will continue a tradition of design innovation at HTC.

Before HTC most of Mr. Luke's big successes came outside the mobile sector.  He had worked for 9 years for Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), where he was in charge of creative efforts with Windows XP, Windows Mobile, Xbox, and other projects.  Both the Xbox and Windows XP were massive successes, though Windows Mobile was starting to sink in market share by the time Mr. Luke left.

At HTC Mr. Luke was among the forces to drive HTC to become a top-tier smart phone maker.  The small company rose out of relative obscurity to become one of the most iconic handset makers in America, with high-profile devices like the Thunderbolt and EVO 4G.

Mr. Luke reportedly left the company on April 30 -- almost three months ago.


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Such bullcrap
By quiksilvr on 7/26/2011 9:40:32 AM , Rating: 4
Apple has no basis to sue HTC on. The patents that were approved are so vague and literally (no joke, no exaggeration) can be applied to any computer program ever made and every device that can connect to another device.




RE: Such bullcrap
By ltcommanderdata on 7/26/2011 10:09:32 AM , Rating: 5
Well Apple was granted the patents so they have a basis to sue. Whether the patents are valid or apply against HTC is what this case is trying to determine. So far the judge feels two of Apple's patents are valid against HTC. We'll have to see what the final decision is.

You may advocate that Apple should not sue HTC or any one else, but I don't see how Apple quietly holding on to patents is any better since it can just leave uncertainty in the industry about who owns what. By sueing at least we'll settle before a panel of judges the validity of Apple's patents. And if the judges rule in Apple's favour then everything Apple's done has been following the rule of law and if people don't agree, maybe it'll give momentum to getting patent law reformed.


RE: Such bullcrap
By ApfDaMan on 7/26/2011 10:25:09 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Well Apple was granted the patents so they have a basis to sue.


A Legal basis but not a moral basis. That is the issue here.

quote:
And if the judges rule in Apple's favour then everything Apple's done has been following the rule of law and if people don't agree, maybe it'll give momentum to getting patent law reformed.


So a good company has to die before anything is done about it? A drunk four year old with a crayon could have write patent laws with more common sense.


RE: Such bullcrap
By ApfDaMan on 7/26/2011 10:26:07 AM , Rating: 5
Written*

Apparently a drunk four year old can write better than me too.


RE: Such bullcrap
By ltcommanderdata on 7/26/2011 10:51:40 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
A Legal basis but not a moral basis. That is the issue here.

Well ideally moral direction should be involved in the creation of laws, but in the application of law I don't believe morality can trump following the letter of the law.

And morals and companies have always been a wonky partnership. If all companies just follow the letter of the law, that's already a good starting point for me.

quote:
So a good company has to die before anything is done about it? A drunk four year old with a crayon could have write patent laws with more common sense.

The only way HTC would die in this case is that they are actually found guilty for acting against the law. At that point they can't just be let off scott free since that would set a dangerous precedent. People and companies just can't break laws whenever they like because they don't agree with them. The law needs to be followed until it can be changed, even if it takes time.


RE: Such bullcrap
By bah12 on 7/26/2011 12:48:23 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
At that point they can't just be let off scott free since that would set a dangerous precedent.
Aww but as you insinuated, a patent is not a law until it is validated by a court. So in this case how much to we punish a company that did not knowingly do anything wrong? Violating a patent that has already been upheld is one thing, sure IMO throw the book at them. However that is not what would happen in this case, as the patent is pretty vague and untested.


RE: Such bullcrap
By MrTeal on 7/26/2011 10:50:54 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
A Legal basis but not a moral basis. That is the issue here.


Oh man. You're going to have all kinds of problems with the legal system if you expect it to follow a "moral basis".


RE: Such bullcrap
By ApfDaMan on 7/26/2011 12:03:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Oh man. You're going to have all kinds of problems with the legal system if you expect it to follow a "moral basis".


I dont expect it to, doesnt mean it shouldnt :) but a man can dream, right?


RE: Such bullcrap
By erple2 on 7/27/2011 8:49:05 AM , Rating: 2
We can't allow that, either. That leads down the path of "activist judging" as is so frequently bandied about.

It's not the job of a judge to be the "morality police".


RE: Such bullcrap
By geeg on 7/26/2011 1:44:50 PM , Rating: 2
a drunk 4-year old is morally very wrong, man.


RE: Such bullcrap
By melgross on 7/26/2011 8:31:38 PM , Rating: 2
If you own the patents, and someone steals the IP involved, not only do you have a moral right to sue, you have a moral imperative to sue. What strengthens the other company, weakens yours.


RE: Such bullcrap
By robinthakur on 7/27/2011 9:16:51 AM , Rating: 2
A drunk 4 year old with a crayon would not understand the intricacies of the patent system and clearly neither did HTC's legal and compliance department/lawfirm, whose job it was to navigate the fraught patent system. If they have used patented technology or concepts, then the law states that this is illegal. Ignorance of the law is not excusable and we are not talking about a kid running a business from his bedroom, this is a multi-national company. It is beholden on HTC to prove that they have not infringed on the patent or to prove that it is overly vague to the court. If you owned the patent for what they allegedly infringed, what would you do? Morality has no currency in the boardroom and in the markets,especially when Apple's patents and designs are being ostensibly 'copied' by Samsung and HTC and causing their market to erode. Morality is not the issue here in any sense unless you apply it to the act of taking something which doesn't belong to you without asking, aka theft.


RE: Such bullcrap
By tamalero on 7/26/2011 2:07:06 PM , Rating: 3
Still makes me wonder why Apple seems to have the whitecard to steal ideas and tech, but GOD FORBID IF SOMEONE STEALS A VAGUE AND OVERLY GENERIC PATENT OF APPLE!.


RE: Such bullcrap
By Uncle on 7/26/2011 1:30:56 PM , Rating: 2
Tell that to a non techy judge.When it comes to outsiders trying to get into the American market place, its obvious that American as Apple pie get preferential treatment and judgements.


RE: Such bullcrap
By michael2k on 7/26/2011 7:04:27 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong. The patent is fairly short and easy to read:
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PT...

The part that Android infringes on is
quote:
an analyzer server for detecting structures in the data, and for linking actions to the detected structures;


This was not an obvious invention the year this was patented, 1996. In the intervening decade, of course, it has become ubiquitous: Dailtech, for example, will automatically transform http://this.into.a.url, but not www.this.one, and@this.into.an email address by using a data detector despite the fact that I've inserted no anchor tags, mailto tags, or hrefs, and automatically display them correctly.

Look at the prior art. Spellcheckers didn't automatically offer links to correctly spelled words in 1996. Contextual wikis don't even exist NOW. Source code linking wasn't available in 1996.


RE: Such bullcrap
By sprockkets on 7/26/2011 8:16:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This was not an obvious invention the year this was patented, 1996. In the intervening decade, of course, it has become ubiquitous: Dailtech, for example, will automatically transform http://this.into.a.url, but not www.this.one, and@this.into.an email address by using a data detector despite the fact that I've inserted no anchor tags, mailto tags, or hrefs, and automatically display them correctly.


Awww, you're so smart. Why don't you tell us where the implementation of dailytech's "analyzer" is, and then remind us about how computer algorithms aren't patentable?


RE: Such bullcrap
By michael2k on 7/27/2011 1:14:04 AM , Rating: 2
You mean the Dailytech forum code that lexically analyzes text looking for http://web.addresses?

http://
http://this
http://this.works

Same with this@example.here

I mean, the entry caption says this:
quote:
URLs & E-mail addresses are automatically converted to HTML


The point is that the algorithm wasn't patented, because there isn't an algorithm. Instead we have essentially a regex running looking for patterns and modifying the output to make actionable links. The patent is also slightly different than Dailytech's implementation because Dailytech is generating HTML to be rendered in a web browser, meaning it's inserting standard href and anchor tags.


RE: Such bullcrap
By sprockkets on 7/27/2011 7:48:24 AM , Rating: 2
Stop playing stupid.


RE: Such bullcrap
By The0ne on 7/27/2011 2:58:40 AM , Rating: 2
When you've paid over 4 billion dollars for patents you'll do whatever it takes to enforce them when you feel need to.


Windows
By Flunk on 7/26/2011 10:57:04 AM , Rating: 3
HTC could switch over to only producing Windows Phone devices as a last resort, they already have a few models that run Windows Phone. Microsoft offers legal protection for their licensees (which is why Apple is not suing HTC or others over their Windows Phones). Sure it's not ideal, but it could happen and it's better than some of the alternatives.

Alternatively Google could step up and offer legal protection to their licensees but I don't see that happening.




RE: Windows
By ch2x on 7/26/2011 11:19:12 PM , Rating: 2
It's time for Google to play hardball. Google allows Apple access to its freeware (Map, Search, Translate, Navigation, Apps etc), essentially allowing Apple to take advantage of its innovations even while Apple attacks. Cut them off, and we will see how popular iPhone remains. You can only face evil by fighting evil, not open arms.


RE: Windows
By robinthakur on 7/27/2011 9:20:33 AM , Rating: 2
That wouldn't really be in Google's interests, would it? They are an avertising firm which derives revenue from ads and data mining, both of which are served by the 'free ware' which you mention. Apple and Google are far more interlinked than you think.


Box
By AlvinCool on 7/26/2011 10:00:07 AM , Rating: 2
If only I had known about patents. All those years drawing boxes on paper, I could have patented having boxes with pictures and or sound. Boxes of variable size from huge to tiny. I'd be RICH

And if that sounds absurd so do the patents they are basing this crap on.




By tharik on 7/26/2011 3:11:10 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe HTC should use the patents the obtained in the cross licensing deal with Microsoft to protect them selves from Apple.




the pic
By sprockkets on 7/26/2011 9:41:50 PM , Rating: 2
I think Han begging Jabba "Look, I'll pay ya triple, you're throwing away a fortune don't be a fool!" would be funnier.




A question about generic software patent
By Tony Swash on 7/26/11, Rating: -1
RE: A question about generic software patent
By Pirks on 7/26/2011 12:43:03 PM , Rating: 1
Which information processing practice do DT readers apply to Apple when comparing to all the other IT companies?

Hint: the answer has two words, first starts with D and the second starts with S.


RE: A question about generic software patent
By Solandri on 7/26/2011 1:54:55 PM , Rating: 2
Back in the late 1990s when Google was all about their "Do no evil" philosophy, there was a small uproar among the tech community when they started applying for software patents. Google explained that although they thought software patents were stupid, they were still law. Google needed to have them to defend against others who would abuse them. They even made a show of buying up patents for sale, just to eliminate them from the market as potential fodder for future lawsuits.

Fast forwarding to today, I can't think of any patent lawsuits initiated by Google, only cases where they counter-sued others who sued them first. Has there been a software patent lawsuit where Google struck first?


By Pirks on 7/26/2011 2:00:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Has there been a software patent lawsuit where Google struck first?
There will be the moment someone builds internet search engine using Google's algorithms


RE: A question about generic software patent
By Tony Swash on 7/26/2011 2:59:25 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Back in the late 1990s when Google was all about their "Do no evil" philosophy, there was a small uproar among the tech community when they started applying for software patents. Google explained that although they thought software patents were stupid, they were still law. Google needed to have them to defend against others who would abuse them. They even made a show of buying up patents for sale, just to eliminate them from the market as potential fodder for future lawsuits.

Fast forwarding to today, I can't think of any patent lawsuits initiated by Google, only cases where they counter-sued others who sued them first. Has there been a software patent lawsuit where Google struck first?


Google is opposed to software patents for other people's software. As my kick-off comment on this thread pointed out Google's business is built on a software patent. And as Pirks pointed out Google's attitude to software patents will be immediately clear the moment any patent affecting Google's core business comes into play (and remember when I say business I mean the stuff Google makes money on not the stuff that is worthless to them which is the stuff they toss as free bones to people like you).

Google hasn't sued because no patent of value to them has been infringed. They don't have much IP in their patent portfolio but the core stuff they do have, everything associated with and built upon PageRank, is their gold and they defend it tooth and nail.

Google is an Intellectual Ventures licensee and investor. Its money enabled Intellectual Ventures to buy the patents that Lodsys is now asserting against Android app developers. Despite numerous request from Android developers Google not only declines to support them against Lodsys but won't even engage in discussing the issue. Apple has responded but could in my opinion done a lot more. Google has done nothing.

As usual FOSS patents has an excellent and informative article here:

http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2011/07/googles-ne...


RE: A question about generic software patent
By Pirks on 7/26/2011 4:39:46 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2011/07/googles-ne...
"Google also finances RPX Corp., a publicly traded patent aggregator accused by antivirus software maker Kaspersky of extortion, racketeering and wire fraud. In other words, Google routinely provides money to operations whose patents create problems for other people, and in Lodsys's case, this is affecting Google's own developer base."

Yeah, "do no evil" my ass... who else besides a few Android cock sucking whores here believes Google's "do no evil" bullshit anymore?


RE: A question about generic software patent
By sprockkets on 7/26/2011 8:18:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Yeah, "do no evil" my ass... who else besides a few Android cock sucking whores here believes Google's "do no evil" bullsh*t anymore?


Those of us who don't rely on fraudsters or paid shills at FOSSpatents.


RE: A question about generic software patent
By Pirks on 7/26/2011 10:30:30 PM , Rating: 2
Oh yeah? Now the guy who opposes software patents is a paid shill? Are you really dumb or what?


RE: A question about generic software patent
By sprockkets on 7/27/2011 7:46:26 AM , Rating: 2
http://lwn.net/Articles/434587/

And the article I don't have at the moment where he was pwned at /.


By Pirks on 7/27/2011 1:04:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
http://lwn.net/Articles/434587/
"Conspiracy theories are weak and pointless, especially when they're baseless like in this case"


"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates














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