Apple alleges that HTC's Android smartphones infringe on a range of patents - including some which date back to the nineties.
Apple has filed suit in the Delaware District Court and the US International Trade Commission accusing smartphone manufacturer HTC of infringing on twenty iPhone-related patents held by the company.
The filing - which is officially held under seal but was leaked
to document sharing service Scribd yesterday afternoon - accuses Chinese smartphone specialist High Tech Computer Corp, better known as HTC, along with HTC America and Exedea Incorporated of manufacturing, importing, and selling products that "incorporate, without license, many technologies developed by Apple and protected by patents issued to and owned by Apple and its wholly-owned subsidiaries including NeXT.
Gizmodo has provided a handy guide
to the twenty patents detailed in the filing, which include patents covering "unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image,
" "list scrolling and document translation, scaling, and rotation on a touch-screen display,
" and "automated response to and sensing of user activity in portable devices.
What is perhaps most interesting about the majority of the patents that form the complaint is that they are complaints against Google's Android platform, rather than HTC: it appears that Apple is merely targeting HTC as the most visible creator of Android-based handsets to test the waters.
is of the opinion that the entire complaint represents an attempt to litigate the Android platform out of existence. Pointing to a patent describing a more efficient method for inter-process communication in a multi-tasking environment - created by NeXT and acquired by Apple when Steve Jobs returned to the company back in 1996 - it appears that Apple believes that the very heart of Android, the Dalvik Java Virtual Machine, uses technology which steps on its toes.
Speaking to DigitalDaily
, Google refused to comment on the suit - or on the possibility that its Android platform may infringe Apple's patents - stating merely that it was "not a party to this lawsuit[, ] however we stand by our Android operating system and the partners who have helped us develop it.
Should Apple succeed in the suit against HTC, it will be able to demand an injunction preventing the import and sale of all Android-based HTC handsets - including the HTC Hero and newly released Nexus One - in the US. More importantly, it could allow it to prevent the import and sale of all
Android-based handsets - at least until Google coughs up some licensing cash or agrees to give the company free access to some of its own patents in return.
Do you think Apple's suit has merit, or is it merely panicking at how popular Android is becoming and attempting to litigate to protect the iPhone? Share your thoughts over in the forums