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HTC is fighting for its survival against a lawsuit-zealous Apple.  (Source: Reuters / Pichi Chuang)
Is Apple trying to kill the free market? HTC's law team thinks so

HTC Corp.'s (SEO:066570) general counsel, Grace Lei, issued a scathing analysis of competitor Apple, Inc. (AAPL) to the Agence France Press (AFP), commenting, "HTC is disappointed at Apple's constant attempts at litigations instead of competing fairly in the market. HTC strongly denies all infringement claims by Apple in the past and present and reiterates our determination and commitment to protect our intellectual property rights."

Those harsh words come as the gadget maker is fighting for its very survival in the face of Apple's legal harassment.  Apple is seeking a temporary injunction that would block shipments of product in the U.S., essentially killing HTC's sales.

Apple chief Steve Jobs accuses HTC and other Android phone makers of conspiring to "steal" "innovation" from his iPhone.  He claims that Android phone makers copied the iPhone's look, which was protected under a design patent.  He also claims Android phone makers infringed on his company's patent on undervolting a CPU via interrupt and on multi-touch gestures such as the "pinch" movement.  Apple has sued HTC in multiple countries.

HTC has vigorously defended itself, complaining that Apple's patents are overly generic and obvious.  It has filed countersuit against Apple.

Apple is also suing Motorola Solutions Inc. (MSI) and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (SEO:005930), the other two biggest manufacturers of Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android operating system.  Android smart phones outsold Apple's iPhone over 2 to 1 globally in the last quarter.

HTC rose from relative obscurity by becoming one of the first phone makers to wholeheartedly embrace Android.  Today it is one of the most prominent Android phone makers on the market.

The AFP report contains a minor error in that it states that Apple and Finland's Nokia (HEL:NOK1V) are currently suing each other.  Those suits have actually been settled by both parties under a licensing agreement.

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RE: The black kettle
By theapparition on 7/12/2011 4:19:42 PM , Rating: 3
The Prada wasn't even "the first".

Plenty of other touch screen black rectangles existed before the iPhone or Prada. Look at a device like the Dell Axim x50 (ironically, designed and manufactured by HTC). Even has a bottom center button, and that predates the iPhone by years. Apple's design patent only covers devices that look virtually identical. This is going nowhere.

However, they may have some legal ammunition regarding the multi-touch and undervolting. Both of these will not be cause for a judge to issue a PI though. In the end, I'm confident they'll work out a cross licensing agreement.

As for fanboys on both sides, chill out. This is just legal posturing, done by all companies. It's how you play the game. Unfortunate, but that's what happens when you have a society that has been crafted by lawyers.

RE: The black kettle
By Iaiken on 7/12/2011 4:43:47 PM , Rating: 4
However, they may have some legal ammunition regarding the multi-touch


Bill Buxton wrote his dissertation on multi-touch and gestures as input to an OS via touch screen back in 1984 and it was published by the University of Toronto in April of 1985. He also has the common decency to recognize that he was standing on the shoulders of other giants.

To put it in perspective, my group at the University of Toronto was working on multi-touchin 1984 (Lee, Buxton & Smith, 1985), the same year that the first Macintosh computer was released, and we were not the first.

Even if Buxton and company had patented it and Apple had purchased the patent from them, it's 17 year term would have expired in 2002.

and undervolting.

Intel and AMD likewise have numerous patents (33 between them) pertaining to the use of software to undervolt hardware as a power saving feature. So there is a long history of prior art there as well.

Apple has got sweet-f***-all...

RE: The black kettle
By Solandri on 7/12/2011 5:05:10 PM , Rating: 4
Apple's undervolting patent is basically "undervolting the CPU on a phone". It's as bad as all those stupid business patents which tacked on "on the Internet" to ordinary business ideas which have been in use for decades and sometimes centuries.

RE: The black kettle
By redbone75 on 7/12/2011 11:50:26 PM , Rating: 2
And thus it should be invalidated. No one should be allowed to wrap a set of protocols around an existing technology and then claim they've invented something new. Patent system overhaul ftw!

RE: The black kettle
By kitonne on 7/13/2011 3:17:45 PM , Rating: 2
Undervolting to reduce power - part of basic Circuits curiculum, when I went through school, 1982-1983 time frame. Maybe somebody needs to pick up a book on basic circuits from the library and READ it :) Micros have done it since forever, see Z8 family from Zilog (remember them?), pick up a 1988 data book for a refresher - you could step down the voltage supply while the micro was in "sleep mode" and going in and out of sleep mode was under program control (as well as external events). Yes, you had to have a couple more parts in your circuit to cut down voltage supply and bring it up on demand, but prior art is there....

RE: The black kettle
By sprockkets on 7/12/2011 7:44:09 PM , Rating: 2
It's the first capacitive touch screen phone I know of.

Let's face it, there is more to an iphone than just "pinch to zoom", but that's all Steve sues over. All the other stuff is just "hired muscle."

RE: The black kettle
By vision33r on 7/12/2011 9:25:56 PM , Rating: 2
These suits is just a small volley, HTC has not even seen the beginning of the 6000+ Nortel Patents recently acquired. Apple is hitting them with lawsuits after lawsuits until HTC runs out of money.

You guys clearly have no clue what's coming for HTC.

RE: The black kettle
By cmdrdredd on 7/12/2011 10:07:10 PM , Rating: 2
Or Google, I think at some point Google will step in and back the companies that support their OS. They make money after all.

This couldn't be fixed by saying "we don't make phones with multi touch. "We make pocket sized computers that have the ability to make calls over a wireless network."

RE: The black kettle
By xpax on 7/12/2011 10:16:06 PM , Rating: 2
You guys clearly have no clue what's coming for HTC.

The patents aren't owned solely by Apple, but by a purchasing group which includes many companies (Apple, Microsoft, Research in Motion, EMC, Ericsson and Sony).

If any of those patents pose an issue, I'm sure that they too can be licensed.

The fact of the matter as it stands, Nortel not withstanding, is that Apple is a patent troll. They patent things which are blatantly obvious, have more prior art than the Louvre, and won't stand up against anything or anyone but the most brain-dead judge.

Trade dress? Make me laugh. There are only so many ways you can design a phone, and the iPhone has never been particularly innovative or differentiated in that regard. It's a black square, possibly with a different color backplate.

RE: The black kettle
By themaster08 on 7/13/2011 2:38:14 AM , Rating: 2
Trade dress? Make me laugh. There are only so many ways you can design a phone, and the iPhone has never been particularly innovative or differentiated in that regard. It's a black square, possibly with a different color backplate.
Agreed. It's their stupid problem that they used such a generic, basic, previously used design as their trade dress. Their design icon is near impossible to not "infringe" upon, particularly for the touchscreens of nowadays.

If "trade dress" is all they have to defend themselves, then that just goes to show the lack of innovation coming from Cupertino. Another case of Apple using their market influence to stifle the competition, with patents that should have never been granted, and ones that sure as hell will be invalidated when masses of prior art is revealed in the courts.

HTC are spot on with their words. I just hope that they come out on top of all of this. They are one of the few manufacturers that seem to know what their customers really want, how to treat them, and how to defend them.

RE: The black kettle
By justjc on 7/17/2011 7:20:58 AM , Rating: 2
Then you don't know of the LG Prada, available in the UK from April 2007, widely known as the first mobile with a capacitive touchscreen.

As for the first sighting the LG KE850(Prada) must have been available as a working prototype in the spring off 2006, when the iPhone was just a rumour, in order to win the iF Design Award prize, that made the phone public, in September 2006.

RE: The black kettle
By MisterHC on 7/13/2011 12:30:18 AM , Rating: 2
But surely the X50 was a crude rip-off of the Apple Newton! remember what a success that was!

RE: The black kettle
By Belard on 7/13/2011 12:34:42 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, the Newton did very well. Jobs killed it when he returned to Apple.

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