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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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RE: Yay Capitalism!
By Tony Swash on 9/23/2011 6:18:46 AM , Rating: -1
But seriously, Tony:

That is a gross misuse of statistics. You cannot just use the general populace suicide rate and compare it with the Foxconn suicides. It should be compared to the suicide rates of the pertinent demographic - working age people that are employed. If you want to be more consistent, all working age people that are employed in the factories of electronic manufacturers. Find out the suicide rates among the people covered by this demographic. After you have gotten this data, only then the comparison will hold weight.

Or simpler yet, find out the suicide rates of Hua Wei and ZTE and compare it to Foxconn.

Again a fact free post, and being fact free allows for any old speculation that suits a pre-existing prejudice.

Accurate, detailed and up to date suicide statistics for China are hard to come by. The rate I quoted was about the lowest i could find (i.e the rate that would paint the Foxconn rate in the worst possible way).

The best external and probably the most reliable source of suicide statistics for China are those from the World Health Organisation. The WHO's latest stats for China seem to be for May 2003 and they give a rate per 100,000 of 13 for men and 14.8 for women (this excludes Hong Kong which has a significantly higher rate). That is a lower rate for men than in the USA but a higher rate than for women.

You should note that those WHO figures are roughly twice as high as the figures quoted in my original post and therefore would make the Foxxconn figures even less remarkable (other than being lower than average)

The WHO has some breakdown by age group but the data is a little old and is from 1999. That data gives the following rates per 100,000

Age 24-34: 15.1

Age 35-44: 13.2

Age 45-54: 18.2

My reading of the age stats is that people of a working age have a very slightly higher rate of suicide than those younger (who have less less suicide) or older (who have very much higher rates).

So based on the stats I could find the Foxconn rate (or rather the seven suicides in six months that led to lurid headlines containing the magical news story word "Apple) is nothing special and is actually on the low side.

Please note: I added a space in the links to fend of Daily Tech's ridiculous spam filter

RE: Yay Capitalism!
By Tony Swash on 9/23/11, Rating: -1
"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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