“On Tuesday, Apple sued HTC, the Taiwanese company that is the largest maker of smartphones running Google’s Android operating system, including the Nexus One, designed and sold by Google,” Brad Stone reports for The New York Times.
“In the lawsuit, filed with the office of the United States International Trade Commission and the United States District Court in Delaware, Apple said that HTC phones running Android violated 20 of its patents, including those relating to the iPhone’s ability to recognize the touch of multiple fingers on its screen at once,” Stone reports. “Though the lawsuit singles out HTC, many patent lawyers and analysts say they believe Apple’s target is Google and the Android operating system, which the company gives away to cellphone manufacturers. ‘We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it,’ said Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, in a statement. ‘We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.'”
“The lawsuit ‘is the opening shot in a war,’ said Kevin Rivette, a patent lawyer and former vice president for intellectual property strategy at I.B.M. ‘Apple is island-hopping, attacking first the Asian companies. Then it can go after Motorola, gradually whittling away at Google’s base. They want to break the Android tsunami,'” Stone reports. “Google said in a statement: ‘We are not a party to this lawsuit. However, we stand behind our Android operating system and the partners who have helped us to develop it.'”
Stone reports, “Apple, with its patent portfolio relating to multitouch controls and other ways these complex phones operate, apparently believes it has the legal leverage to slow down Google and the spread of Android… As with all patent cases, a decision or settlement could hinge on whether lawyers for HTC — and perhaps Google, if they decide to help — can find ‘prior art’ that demonstrates Apple’s innovations were not all that novel.”
“Such a task may not be that difficult. Palm sold touch-based mobile phones for years before the introduction of the iPhone, and is believed to have a large portfolio of patents. Synaptics, based in Santa Clara, Calif., is also a major owner of intellectual property related to touch screens,” Stone reports. “These companies, and others, may now become valuable acquisition targets as the big players look to improve their position in the coming legal battles and the inevitable countersuits.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote nearly fourteen months ago: “Apple could buy Palm this afternoon with petty cash. In fact, maybe that’s what Palm and Elevation Partners – and Wall Street speculators – are really shooting for: a buyout by Apple or some other company. Apple would buy Palm in order to absorb a would-be competitor and/or gain access to certain patents and technologies and/or to prevent another company (Microsoft, RIM, etc.) from making the acquisition.” – MacDailyNews, January 09, 2009
And Apple wouldn’t sue HTC without very high confidence in their legal position. This one is meant to set the legal precedents that will aid in expediting future actions.
We, too, think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal Apple’s.