Apple has filed a lawsuit against HTC, makers of the Nexus One and many other Android smartphones, claiming infringement of patents relating to the iPhone.
The suit was filed concurrently with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) and the US District Court in Delaware, Apple said in a statement on Tuesday.
"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," Apple chief Steve Jobs said in the statement. "We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."
Apple has not released any details regarding what the 20 patents in question actually are, other than to say they relate to the iPhone's user interface, underlying architecture and hardware.
In a statement on Tuesday, HTC said it had only learned of Apple's lawsuit through the media, and has therefore not yet had the opportunity to investigate the filings.
"Until we have had this opportunity, we are unable to comment on the validity of the claims being made against HTC," the company said.
Although details are sketchy to say the least right now, it is worth noting that, in February, the Nexus One gained multitouch functionality — pinch-to-zoom, and so on — in countries including the US. This functionality has been enabled for some time on HTC handsets sold outside the US, but not inside the country, because Apple has a US patent on multitouch.
It is also worth noting that Apple is currently embroiled in a convoluted web of spats with Nokia, Kodak and Motorola, also over iPhone patents. It appears to be the season for such things.
PS - HTC is currently looking for a US-based patent lawyer. As the ad says: "In this position, you will join HTC America, Inc. at one of its most exciting phases."
UPDATE: OK, so the details of the patents are in. And yes, multitouch is one. Here we go...
Patents named in the Delaware filing:
7362331: "Time-Based, Non-Constant Translation Of User Interface Objects Between States" 7479949: "Touch Screen Device, Method, And Graphical User Interface For Determining Commands By Applying Heuristics" 7657849 : "Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image" 7469381: "List Scrolling And Document Translation, Scaling, And Rotation On A Touch-Screen Display" 5920726: "System And Method For Managing Power Conditions Within A Digital Camera Device" 7633076: "Automated Response To And Sensing Of User Activity In Portable Devices" 5848105: "GMSK Signal Processors For Improved Communications Capacity And Quality" 7383453: "Conserving Power By Reducing Voltage Supplied To An Instruction-Processing Portion Of A Processor" 5455599: "Object-Oriented Graphic System" 6424354: "Object-Oriented Event Notification System With Listener Registration Of Both Interests And Methods"
Patents named in the ITC filing:
5481721: "Method for providing automatic and dynamic translation of object oriented programming language-based message passing into operation system message passing using proxy objects" 5519867: "An apparatus for enabling an object-oriented application to access in an object-oriented manner a procedural operating system having a native procedural interface" 5566337 "Method and apparatus for distributing events in an operating system" 5929852: "Encapsulated network entity reference of a network component system" 5946647: "System and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data" 5969705: "Message protocol for controlling a user interface from an inactive application program" 6275983: "An apparatus for enabling an object-oriented application to access in an object-oriented manner a procedural operating system having a native procedural interface" 6343263: "Real-time signal processing system for serially transmitted data" 5915131: "Method and apparatus for handling I/O requests utilizing separate programming interfaces to access separate I/O services" RE39486: "An extensible and replaceable network-oriented component system provides a platform for developing networking navigation components that operate on a variety of hardware and software computer systems"