Apple sues HTC over iPhone patents

Robert Clark
03 Mar 2010

Apple has sued Taiwan-based HTC for allegedly using iPhone technologies in Nexus One and other smartphones.

It has filed a suit with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) and the District Court in Delaware claiming infringement of its touchscreen, user scrolling and other technologies.

The suits cite a number of Android and Windows Mobile devices, including Google’s Nexus One, the T-Mobile G1, the Droid Eris, the Touch Diamond, the Touch Pro2 and the Imagio.

“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 Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.

“We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”

Apple is currently embroiled in a patent case against Nokia at the ITC in which both companies are claiming breach of dozens of radio, user interface and other technologies.

While that case will likely conclude with a series of cross-licenses and a financial settlement, analysts agreed that the target of this suit was not HTC itself but other competitors, Google in particular.

“Apple is suing to make an example out of HTC and lengthen the engineering time-to-market for Android handset builders,” said John Paczkowski on the All Things Digital blog.

RBC analyst Mike Abramsky told Paczkowski that unlike Palm and other device-makers HTC lacked “a big enough patent base with which to defend itself.”

Kaufman Bros analyst Shaw Wu said the case was “an indirect lawsuit against Google,” Reuters reported.

Tero Kuittinen of MKM Partners said HTC was “an optimal target for Apple -- it's a relatively small vendor with a weak brand. It may be easier to push around than Samsung.”

HTC said in an emailed statement to Reuters that it was examining the filings. “HTC values patent rights and their enforcement but is also committed to defending its own technology innovations,” spokesman Keith Nowak said.

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