Earlier today, Apple issued a press release stating that it has filed suit against cell phone manufacturer HTC for patent infringement. No mention of Android or Google was in the press release. But the actual legal complaints, which we’ve obtained and embedded below, make no bones about it. As expected, this lawsuit is about Android. HTC, of course, is one of the largest manufacturers of Android handsets.
The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Delaware targets: “certain mobile communication devices including cellular phones and smart phones, including at least phones incorporating the Android Operating System (collectively, “the Accused Products”).” And the complaint filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission specifically calls out the various HTC Android phones (including the Nexus One, Magic/myTouch 3G, Dream/G1, Hero, and Droid Eris) as the main offending products. By going after the biggest Android manufacturer, Apple is putting all Android cell phone makers"and by extension Google" on notice. Is there any doubt now why Google CEO Eric Schmidt had to resign from Apple’s board last year? The battle lines are now drawn.
Apple suing HTC over 20-odd patents before both the US District Court and the International Trade Commission has certainly caused some chaos this morning, but we thought we'd take a quick breath now that we have the complaints and tease out exactly what patents are at stake here. Of note, most of the patents were granted in the past year, but overall they span a range from 1995 to February 2. Yes, last month. That's a pretty big gap, and most of the patents are pretty dry and technical -- and none of them cover anything like pinch-to-zoom. In fact, you might remember #7,479,949, "Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics" -- we blew apart the myth that it was Apple's "multitouch patent" back when Cupertino was making noise about Palm. It's impossible for us to say exactly how this case is going to play out -- just like the Apple / Nokia lawsuit, it could settle tomorrow, or it could last for 10 years -- but what we do know is that Apple's going after Android as much as it's going after HTC. Some of these patents are from 15 years ago and cover OS-level behavior, so it's hard to see how they can relate only to HTC's implementation of Android and not Google's OS as a whole. Yeah, it's wild, and while we're not going to blow out all 20 patents to sort out what they mean -- not yet, anyway -- we can certainly walk through the claims. Let's see what we've got.
Wed 3 Mar, 2010 07:45 am
“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 chief executive Steve Jobs in a statement. “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”
Nokia v Apple
The world's top mobile phone maker filed a complaint against Apple last year with the US International Trade Commission, alleging Apple's iPhone, iPods and computers all violate Nokia's intellectual property rights.
AT&T v Verizon
AT&T has the iPhone in the States; Verizon the BlackBerry. AT&T is vewy vewy cwoss with a Verizon slogan from last year: "There's a map for that". Time for a suin'? You betcha.
Motorola v RIM
Motorola, now improving but for a long time not very good maker of mobile phones, is having a pop at RIM, maker of BlackBerry, for allegedly exceeding the licence terms of certain technologies relating to wireless connectivity.
Nokia v Samsung, Sharp, Hitachi
For allegedly fixing prices of LCD screens in 2006.
Microsoft v TiVO
Over patents relating to video programmes.
Xerox v Google and Yahoo!
Accuses them of infringing the document management company's patents related to Internet search.
Intellect Wireless v just about everybody
Over MMS technologies. So far in Intellect's sights are Apple, T-Mobile , Virgin, Helio, US Cellular, Motorola, LG, Sanyo, Samsung and HTC. Good work, Intellect.
Thu 4 Mar, 2010 02:45 am
That video bears repeating:
Steve Jobs: "Good artists copy, great artists steal and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas."
And the worst thing is, the patents they are suing over are pretty damn dubious in nature.