How Google’s Android infringes on Apple’s patents in U.S. ITC determination

“Late on Friday, an administrative law judge of the US International Trade Commission issued a determination that HTC’s Android-based devices infringe two Apple patents. This decision is not yet final, but if affirmed, HTC faces an import ban against its products in the U.S. market before the end of the year,” Florian Mueller reports for FOSS Patents. “I said on Twitter that in this scenario, HTC’s Android U.S. market share in 2012 would be 0.0%.”

Mueller reports, “I furthermore pointed out that those patents are also asserted against Motorola and I think it’s very likely that all Android devices infringe them.”

“HTC vowed to fight on and claimed that it has ‘alternate solutions,'” Mueller reports. “But can those patents really be worked around? Standing in front of the Great Wall of China, you can also vow to walk around it. That doesn’t mean it’s a viable option.”

Mueller reports, “U.S. Patent No. 5,946,647 covers a “system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data”. Like most patents, this one consists of multiple claims. In a way, each patent claim is like a patent of its own when it comes to the question of infringement. The ITC judge found that the accused HTC products infringe claims 1, 8, 15 and 19 of that patent… U.S. Patent No. 6,343, 263 covers a “real-time signal processing system for serially transmitted data”… The ITC judge found that the accused HTC products infringe claims 1, 2, 24 and 29 of that patent.”

All of the details are in the full article here.

Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports for Fortune, “When an iPhone receives a message that contains a phone number or an address — e-mail, Web or street — those bits of data are automatically highlighted, underlined and turned into clickable links. Click on the phone number, and the iPhone asks if you want to dial it. Click on the Web address, and it opens in Safari. Click on the street address, and Maps will display it.”

“Any Android phone will do the same,” P.E.D. reports. “Unfortunately for the three dozen companies that make Android devices, Apple filed for a patent on the underlying system and method that performs these actions in 1996. The patent, U.S. Patent No. 5,946,647, was one of 20 that in March 2010 Apple accused HTC, a leading maker of Android phones, of violating.”

“If HTC violated Apple’s patent ‘647, so probably have all the other Android manufacturers,” P.E.D. reports. “By Mueller’s count, this case is only one of 49 that have been filed against the Android operating system, which Google created and distributed for free to those three dozen manufacturers without, it would seem, bothering to license all the underlying technology.”

P.E.D. writes, “Google has been complaining lately that the U.S. patent system is broken — a problem it might have considered addressing before it launched Android.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we said back on March 09, 2010, “Google’s going to rue the day they got greedy by deciding to try to work against Apple instead of with them.”

Related articles:
U.S. ITC finds HTC infringed upon Apple patents – July 15, 2011
HTC decries ‘Apple’s constant attempts at litigations instead of competing fairly in the market’ – July 12, 2011
HTC stock tumbles after Apple’s new patent lawsuit – July 12, 2011
Apple’s second ITC complaint against HTC Android products dissected – July 11, 2011
Apple files second U.S. ITC trade complaint against HTC, seeks to block HTC imports – July 11, 2011
Steve Jobs loads up on high-powered legal team to protect Apple’s intellectual property – April 22, 2010
Apple’s patent infringement lawsuit: The elephant in HTC’s new headquarters – April 2, 2010
Apple patent infringement lawsuit applies pressure to HTC – March 3, 2010
Apple puts the entire industry on notice by suing HTC for patent infringement – March 03, 2010
What Apple vs. HTC could mean for the future of mobile devices – March 03, 2010
Apple looks for expedited proceedings in patent infringement case against HTC – March 03, 2010
Patent lawyer: Apple’s going after HTC first, Motorola’s next, but Google’s the real target – March 03, 2010
The specific Apple patents over which Apple is suing HTC – March 02, 2010
Boom! Apple sues HTC for infringing on 20 iPhone patents – March 02, 2010


    1. What Mueller writes has always part of sensationalism in it, so do not expect this ruling to have any foreseeable effect on anything.

      This matter could be played out back and forth many times for really long time and may end up with nothing, despite it is blatantly obvious that Apple is right to anyone who saw how Android looked and behaved before Jobs presented iPhone back in January 2007.

      1. Agreed. Apple will get nothing out of this. Google and Android will go on their merry way doing whatever they want. I don’t even know why Apple wastes its time. Apple will never get a penny when it comes to IP court rulings.

        1. This isn’t about “getting a penny”. It’s about getting infringing products off the market. And Apple’s had their share of success doing that. They killed the PCs that aped the look of the original iMac. And when was the last time you heard about Psystar?

          Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the beginning of the end for Android. But it would be just the beginning of the end.


          1. With an alledged 550,00 infringements a day, this could also be the beginning of the end of google.

            I think Apple’s about to get a new Mountain View campus!

      1. Doesn’t matter… all the infringements between now and the expiration of the patent result in retroactive damages. Damages are much bigger than licensing fees.

        100 million times 1000 dollars is: $100B. Does google have it in the bank?

  1. I believe patents expire after 19 years in the US so HTC & Co just need to keep appealing the decisions to be able to continue selling. And then come out with an alternative that beats the patent.
    That’s the problem with patents for electronics. The tech life span is too short for the courts to be effective in providing patent protection.

    1. They still have to pay previous use damages.

      Anyway, the killer patents will likely be the iPhone-specific ones, only recently granted (with more in the pipeline).

  2. Even if the patent runs out in 2015 they would still have to pay for the time that it did infringe so not sure how delaying the findings will help other than not actually have the phones banned themselves which is an unlikely event in any case i suspect.

  3. I usually have a pretty bitter taste in my mouth when I see patent lawsuits, especially by obvious patent trolls. But I honestly hope that Google and all of the Android hardware makers fry severely for this. Apple spent a ton of time and money preparing for this market, and it showed with the tremendous success of the iPhone. And Google et al, CLEARLY and BLATANTLY copied virtually every aspect, without shame.

    1. Yes, there is a big difference between companies such as Apple, GE, Boeing, or Motorola and Nokia, who develop technology and products that (arguably) move civilization forward, and those patent aggregators that do nothing more than acquire paper for the sole purpose of generating parasitical attacks. Patent trolls are leaches. They advance nothing, they only drain the productive. They, and their law suits, should never be confused with the action Apple is taking to protect the huge investment it has made in its product line.

  4. Christ i hope they got more than that in their arsenal of patents.

    Multiple ways to accomplish this and its trivial, has been for years. You can find source code in nearly any language for free on the web to do this.

    This is what makes me want to puke when it comes to patents. The complex sounding “signal processing system” in english is actually text parsing, using regular expressions and a linked list to match data to mime types.

    Seriously they should employ software developers at the patent office to catch ridiculous shit like this from being granted.

    1. You know damn well that most of your Android phone is a blatant copy of the iPhone.

      Hiding behind an inefficient, poorly administered patent process is not going to change the fact that every Android phone manufacturer has ripped off Apple’s intellectual property.

      I hope Apple shuts every one of those ripoff artists down.

      Fake Gucci bag manufacturers get fined, pay restitution and even do jail time. Fake iPhone makers deserve at least as much.

      1. Oh there are def heavy pieces of the android UI that were copied, I had an iphone before an android and that was apparent when i got my first droid.

        Im just surprised that the infringements the ITC is agreeing with have little to do with the Ui and center on text parsing and basic programming logic that is not mobile specific.

        Its ok though if you follow other tech sites you can read about how some euro developers are now pulling out of the US market because they feel it has become non viable due to the broken patent system in the US.

        Indeed when the only two options left in the US become MS and Apple we will really be a land of choice, freedom and innovation!

        1. The only reason MSFT and APPL would be the only two choices would simply be due to everyone else refusing to innovate.

          There are huge swaths of the market apple doesn’t compete in, and Apple has never gone after anyone who actually was innovating.

          Notice that Apple hasn’t sued palm, rim or msft for their phones.

    2. “I hope they got more than that in their arsenal of patents.
      Multiple ways to accomplish this and its trivial, has been for years.”

      Odd comments for a patent applied for in 1994.
      Yes, technology has moved on, and there are other ways to parse the data.

      So why didn’t they use one of them?

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