Google gets its hands dirty by arming HTC with patents to be used against innovator Apple

“On Wednesday, [U.S. patent] 6,473,006 turned up in a pair of lawsuits — one filed at the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, the other in a federal court in Delaware — filed by HTC against Apple,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt writes for Fortune.

“The iPhone, HTC claims, has violated this patent that came to HTC by way of Google, Myriad, Purple Labs, Openwave and Phone-com,” P.E.D. reports. “HTC, of course, is suing Apple because it was sued last year by Apple — the first of many complaints Apple would bring against the manufacturers of devices running Google’s Android operating system. Apple claimed at the time that HTC had violated 20 of its patents.”

“Tit for tat, right? Not quite,” P.E.D. writes. “The difference is that Apple actually invented the technology it accused HTC — and by proxy, Google — of ‘stealing’ (to use Steve Jobs’ verb)… HTC and Google, by contrast, are accusing Apple (whose smartphone designs they have plainly copied) of violating patents they bought fourth or fifth hand.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related article:
HTC sues Apple using patents obtained last week from Google – September 7, 2011


  1. Is what Google did legal? Often times it is not legal to change ownership of ‘things’ once litigation has begun. Like in bankruptcy they can go back 6-12 months depending. I know, this isn’t a BR case, just wondering….anybody know???

    1. These “new” (new to HTC) patents are not being used as a defense in the original Apple lawsuits against HTC. They would not be relevant if they were trying to do that.

      These “new” patents are being used as justification for totally new lawsuits by HTC against Apple. Anyone who owns the patents at the time of the filing of the suit can do so.

  2. I think this will be seen in court against google and HTC. How can one company lend its patents to another just to fight for them. It does not make sense and should be illegal in court.

    Just me lawyers’ .02ç

  3. If Apple is infringing on Google’s patents, why would Google transfer those patents to someone else? That makes no financial sense to me. Will HTC return the favor for Googorola? Are the trying to assuage their Android partners’ fears that Google’s going to let them all hang out to dry alone?

    Is Google trying to keep the Apple heat off of itself? Do they think that this will accomplish that? I just don’t get it at all…

  4. Google is shameless geek scum, from top down.

    To buy ancient patents to be able to steal modern innovation and then blackmail your victims with that crap?

    A new low for Google and the tech world.

      1. @dude… James Gosling doesn’t even work there anymore. Further, most rational people understand that the actions taken by a company, particularly in a case like this apply to the company’s management rather than to the technical individual contributors.

  5. Does anyone have a link to an article that actually describes what these new HTC patents cover? (You would think this would be necessary information to convey in this news story. Philmer’s report on this subject matter is piss poor and lacking.) This article has the depth of a commentary piece.

    1. 6,473,006 concerns “a method and apparatus for zoomed display of characters entered from a telephone keypad,”

      Well the iPhone doesn’t have an actual telephone keyboard.

      6,708,214 concerns “A method of operation of a mobile telephone having a display device and a set of input keys…”

      Again no keys on an iPhone.

      6,868,283 concerns “a method for utilizing a graphic user interface in a portable electronic device. Specifically, the present invention pertains to a method of using a portion of a graphic user interface display to provide information to the user without disrupting an application in progress. The user interface provides tools that enable the user to answer or reject an incoming call, without interruption of applications already operating on the device during the call.”

      I’m sure there must be prior art here. This was filed in 2001 and granted in 2005.

      7,289,772 appears to be the same thing as 6,868,283

      7,020,849 concerns “Techniques for displaying information on communication devices are disclosed. The techniques are highly beneficial for devices with relatively small viewing areas (e.g., remote wireless phones). An enhanced communication device can be implemented which can dynamically display information on an associated display. This means that there is no need to reserve various areas on the display for displaying. Instead, information may be assigned or unassigned to the different display portions dynamically. As a result, the display area can be used more efficiently.”

      Again, there must be prior art for this. It’s simply the concept of data appearing wherever convenient on a screen, rather than in fixed places.

      If these are the five patents that are supposed to be a bargaining chip, I wouldn’t expect Apple to get too worried, but there again, I’m only a layman and the patent law ( particularly US patent law ) works in very strange ways.

  6. HTC is probably struggling to make an Android-bearing handset that is both profitable and competitive. As they have Google to thank for this rather difficult task, I think it is perfectly appropriate that Google to to their aid screwy as that may be.

  7. Sadly its the way the game is going to be played.

    When the rockstar group starts leveraging the nortel patents somehow i don’t think this site will see that as a dirty move.

    Maybe we’ll get lucky and when the dust settles software patents will be abolished. Hehe

    1. “Maybe we’ll get lucky and when the dust settles software patents will be abolished. Hehe”

      And then we’ll all be stuck with software of the quality of the average open source crap. No thanks. And BTW, see if you can buy a clue somewhere.

      1. That works for me some of the best software in the world is based on open source and the internet largely functions on open source tech.

        Open source crap is the foundation of little things like OS X, iOS and webkit.
        Without it we’d be farther behind or still paying thousands of dollars for UNIX workstations with ancient CDE enviroments.

        Btw try to find a life in that ignorant little world you occupy.

        1. If you read Zeke’s post, he wrote, “AVERAGE open source crap”. But, don’t let that little distinction prevent you from going on a rant, where you can insult people as “ignorant”! You are the Dude!

        2. And so that’s why we were all using Unix prior to OS X, right? I mean, it was so easy and user friendly, right? I’m a Unix admin in real life, and if we were all restricted to using it for home computers there would be no home computer market, no tablets, no iPhones. People don’t work hard to please customers when they are giving software away. The attitude is “take it or leave it and be grateful I did anything for you.” Now > dev/null.

    2. I don’t think it will be that simple. Plainly to my mind there has been wholesale copying not only of the software aspects of iOS which is the subject of dispute here but also the look and feel of the touchscreen which it could be argued falls under the text input method on the touchscreen. On balance I think it can be demonstrated without a shadow of a doubt that iOS preceded Android. The only question that remains is the extent to which patents have been infringed and the remedies available to Apple.

  8. By HTC acquiring the patent and suing for infringement aren’t they admitting they infringed on the patent in the first place. Did Google infringe before they acquired it?

    I don’t believe Apple is infringing on this as it is titled “Method and apparatus for zoomed display of characters entered from a telephone keypad” and diagrams show a numeric keypad as the input method. Last time I used my iPhone/iPad to input text it was a typewriter style keyboard.

    1. The Motorola patents are not useful to HTC as a defense, just as they were too weak to help Motorola if Apple sued them. They do provide an opportunity to file a pathetically weak countersuit with which to muddy the waters and plausibly ask for a cross licensing deal.

      Understand that, culturally, HTC is doing what it’s supposed to do; huff and puff, and pose threateningly. It’s what asian CEOs are used to doing. It’s part of negotiations in their world.

    1. I think they need to edit the part about Android. It is claimed that Android had been in development since 2003 and before the iPhone was released however, what we see in Android today was not the design of Android 2003. Instead, it became an IP infringed copy of iOS. What is evident today is that Google’s mantra of, “do no evil” is a scam like everything else Google is doing. Google has become just another corporate entity bent on lies for the sake of profit.

  9. AAPL is the biggest THIEF stealing from other companies’ patent portfolio.
    AAPL stole from Palm, Nokia, Motorola, Nortel, Google, Orocal, Java, Samsung, and many more.
    AAPL was the first to get dirty and start this patent dirty control freak war.
    AAPL is now getting it’s own medicine, getting dragged down by patents battles
    AAPL copied HTC phone’s dual camarra mode, AAPL copied HTC’s phone width.

    1. So “brilliant” and analytical Dan what you’re saying is one should never try to protect one’s own interests and innovations from others stealing? What is your evidence, other than bold exclamations and your say-so, of Apple stealing from others?

      The light of truth on stupid arguments that border on insanity is like the effect of light on mindless vampires.

      BTW camarra is spelled camera.

    2. ummmm… yeah – thats called innovating these days.

      I see what you are saying – Lion expands the user windows similarly to how Win7 does… Apple copied – to gain acceptance from more PC users — or or is Apple listening to its customers? If people want a bigger iPhone – wider so big fingers can type easier then do it. Samsung there first — seems so – seems also Samsung came out with far more models then Apple.

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