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Top chipset maker VIA Technologies claims Apple ripped off its intellectual property to make the iPhone and iPad.  (Source: Hornberger Worstell)

VIA has aligned itself with the Android handset makers in their global patent conflict with Apple.
Apple could soon find itself in a similar situation to rival Samsung

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) is currently riding high on its victory over rival Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (SEO 005930) in Germany.  German courts sided with Apple and banned sales of Samsung's tablets, as they say Apple owns exclusive rights to minimalist tablet designs.  As reports indicate that Samsung is currently the only major Android company currently coming close to rivaling Apple in sales, Apple for now enjoys a court-enforced monopoly on the tablet market for the time being.

Now, Taiwanese motherboard, CPU, and chipset maker VIA Technologies, Inc. (TPE:2388) has just filed suit in U.S. Federal Court in Delaware, seeking to ban sales of Apple's iPad and iPhone, which it says infringe upon three of its U.S. patents.  VIA is also seeking damages and has asked for a trial by jury.

VIA writes, according to a copy of the complaint 
obtained by Bloomberg, "The products at issue generally concern microprocessors included in a variety of electronic products such as certain smartphones, tablet computers, portable media players and other computing devices."

The company seems in good position to see success.  The Delaware court is known as a plaintiff friendly region, akin to the Eastern District Federal Court of Texas.

For VIA the suit is somewhat personal, as the company has close ties to "patent poor" HTC Corp. (
SEO:066570), a recent target of Apple's intellectual property aggression.  VIA recently sold its S3 Graphics subsidiary to HTC for $300M USD.  VIA had already won a lawsuit against Apple for patents held by S3 -- HTC is now using that victory to try to force Apple to cross license the IP that would allow it to continue to sell Android tablets and smartphones in the U.S. and other regions.

Unlike with Samsung, HTC, Nokia Oyj. (HEL:NOK1V),or Google, Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Motorola Mobility, VIA likely does not make any products that Apple can target in countersuits.

Apple started the patent war last year 
by suing HTC claiming infringements on various technology patents (such as interrupt-based processor undervolting) and its iPad/iPhone design patents.  Since then the war has swept the globe, reaching WWII-esque proportions.  On one side sits Samsung, Google, and HTC (and effectively, VIA); on the other side sits Apple.  

The Android team has been arming themselves.  Aside from the S3 acquisition, Google's
purchase of Motorola served to consolidate the manufacturers patents for use by the greater Android coalition.  And Google recently purchased 1,000 patents from International Business Machines, Inc. (IBM) to further aid in the defense of Android.

The escalation poses significant risk to Apple's bottom line.  While there's a small chance the company will be able to leverage the lawsuits to retain tablet market dominance and regain dominance in the smartphone sector, there's a strong possibility that the plan make backfire.  If the Android allies win their countersuits [
1][2], Apple may see its own products banned.  Furthermore, many have suggested that Apple's campaign may be hurting Apple's "cool" brand image.  After all, as one top blogger told DailyTech, "It's hard to seem cool when you're suing everybody."

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By sprockkets on 9/22/2011 1:14:26 PM , Rating: 5
VIA had already won a lawsuit against Apple for patents held by S3 -- HTC is now using that victory to try to force Apple to cross license the IP that would allow it to continue to sell Android tablets and smart phones in the U.S. and other regions.

Cross license? How bout we treat apple like they treat everyone else, like douchebags?

HTC, ban the Macs.

RE: hmmm
By NellyFromMA on 9/22/2011 1:22:08 PM , Rating: 3
cause they actually want to win. only Apple could pull off such an upset judicial win. Via isn't exactly on the same popularity level. So, they'll go with a request that makes more sense based on the reality of things as well as typical precedent.

RE: hmmm
By NellyFromMA on 9/22/2011 1:23:18 PM , Rating: 3
My bad, fail read on my part. Still, HTC is no Apple, but at least the general population has a chance at knowing who the heck HTC is or what they make.

RE: hmmm
By kleinma on 9/22/2011 1:35:05 PM , Rating: 5
I was not aware that court rulings were popularity contests....

RE: hmmm
By MrTeal on 9/22/2011 1:40:18 PM , Rating: 4
In a trial by jury?

I wonder if VIA is going to try and compose the jury of people who don't own any Apple products. It would seem to be a CoI to have someone sitting on the jury to ban the iPhone if they own one.

RE: hmmm
By kingmotley on 9/22/2011 3:17:43 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. It would also be unfair to have anyone that owns something that has "microprocessors included in a variety of electronic products such as certain smartphones, tablet computers, portable media players and other computing devices" in them.

Now where can we find a jury of our peers that doesn't have the above?

RE: hmmm
By cjohnson2136 on 9/22/2011 3:23:42 PM , Rating: 2
hill billies from somewhere in deep deep section of wooded area, or Amish they don't have electronics.

RE: hmmm
By RjBass on 9/22/2011 3:54:42 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know about where you are, but the Amish in my hood drive trucks and almost all the adult makes have iPhones.

RE: hmmm
By cjohnson2136 on 9/22/2011 3:57:15 PM , Rating: 2
You sure you are not thinking mennonites. But cause they dress very similar to Amish but they can have electronics.

RE: hmmm
By rameshms on 9/22/2011 4:26:03 PM , Rating: 4
cavemen ? Just ask GEICO were to find them..

RE: hmmm
By johnsmith9875 on 9/22/2011 3:28:12 PM , Rating: 5
I hope VIA wins, forcing Apple to make the IPAD3 a Circular tablet made up of old style transistors and hand cranked for power.

RE: hmmm
By idiot77 on 9/22/2011 4:07:14 PM , Rating: 2
I can see the ad now...

The All New RetroPad, with clockwork functionality, only found on an Apple!

RE: hmmm
By lightfoot on 9/22/2011 7:42:04 PM , Rating: 2
A steam punk iPad? That might actually sell well.

RE: hmmm
By phatboye on 9/22/2011 1:24:56 PM , Rating: 2
As much as I'd like to see that you have to remember that Via is a company and their number one goal is to make money. Since Via does not have sell products that directly compete with Apple's products it makes more sense to make money or strike a cross licensing deal instead of banning Apple products.

RE: hmmm
By invidious on 9/22/2011 1:54:52 PM , Rating: 2
I imagine that Google and Microsoft would be willing to compensate Via for the opportunity cost of the cross licence if it meant taking Apple down a peg.

RE: hmmm
By cjohnson2136 on 9/22/2011 1:57:30 PM , Rating: 2
Google and Microsoft wouldn't cross license because they don't make the phones. The phone makers of Android and WP7 would cross license.

RE: hmmm
By BZDTemp on 9/22/2011 3:23:13 PM , Rating: 2
Eh, with Google buying Motorola and the big deal between Microsoft and Nokia I'd say they are booth damn close to making phones.

(DT the text above was seen as spam, so I'm hoping adding this comment will make it go through).

RE: hmmm
By cjohnson2136 on 9/22/2011 3:25:23 PM , Rating: 2
Well if Google does start making phones because of owning Motorola Mobility then yes they would cross license, but Microsoft still wouldn't cross license, Nokia would...two separate companies.

RE: hmmm
By Fritzr on 9/23/2011 10:49:43 PM , Rating: 2
VIA could knock Apple out of the market and declare it a win in terms of sales ... The alternative hardware has to come from somebody after all. I am sure VIA has ideas about what will replace Apple in the US market :D

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