Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

Summary: Late yesterday an ITC judge ruled that smartphone maker HTC has infringed two Apple patents, and it seems likely that every single Android device out there infringes the same patents.

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Late yesterday an ITC judge ruled that smartphone maker HTC has infringed two Apple patents, and it seems likely that every single Android device out there infringes the same patents.

The two Apple patents that HTC is infringing are as follows:

This is a very significant development since these two patents are also in dispute between Apple and Motorola and Apple and Nokia. This decision is also landmark in that it is the first legal judgement that finds Android in infringement of third-party intellectual property rights.

Just how serious is this ruling for HTC? Very serious. The worst-case scenario is that the ITC imposes an US import ban against all of HTC's Android products. That's how serious this is for HTC.

According to intellectual property activist Florian Mueller, Apple is unlikely to grant HTC a license for these patents and might make a damages claim.

But it gets worse. This also has severe implications for all Android products on the market, irrespective of the maker, as Mueller also pointed out:

It's hard to see how any Android device could not infringe them, or how companies could work around them.

Mueller has put together a chart showing how all Android devices infringe the same patents that HTC has been found infringe.

HTC claims that is has found 'alternate solutions' to these patents, but Mueller isn't optimistic:

But can those patents really be worked around? Standing in front of the Great Wall of China, you can also vow to walk around it. That doesn't mean it's a viable option.

And it seems that it is going to get worse as Android is at the center of 49 federal and ITC infringement suits.

This is serious stuff.

See also:

Topics: Mobility, Android, Apple, Google, Hardware, HTC, Legal, Smartphones

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  • RE: Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

    Oh please. Give me a break.
    locopollito
    • RE: Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

      @locopollito That's what I am saying, I do not see this sticking if it involves basic computing functions or I do believe there will be work around.
      slickjim
      • RE: Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

        @Peter Perry I think apple is feeling too much heat, and they can't get out of the kitchen.
        cmccain810
      • RE: Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

        @Peter Perry
        Yes, this is why software patents have to go. They are stifling innovation - not encouraging it.
        Plain Logic
      • Innovation

        @ Plain Logic

        The iPhone was innovative. Android isn't. To the extent that the US patent system is protecting Apple's investment in innovative technology from HTC's attempts to free-ride, it's promoting, not stifling, innovation. Rewarding innovators with temporary monopolies, to encourage innovation, is exactly what patent systems are supposed to do.

        There is, however, a major difference between Apple's patent strategy (assuming the information in this article is correct) and the more familiar IBM strategy (which has also been adopted by Microsoft and others). The aim of the IBM strategy is to collect royalties to recover R&D expenses, and not to prevent other firms using the patented inventions.

        If Apple intend to use their temporary monopoly power to exclude competitors, rather than simply to collect royalties from them, they could change the dynamics of the patent system in high technology industries. Under the IBM system, the worst that can happen is that imitators have to pay royalties (as HTC agreed to do in their settlement with Microsoft). This adds a small cost for users of imitative products, but isn't disruptive. Banning infringing products is potentially very disruptive, and could lead to a backlash against Apple.
        WilErz
      • RE: Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

        @Peter Perry
        Yeah, these patents are a joke. The vague, nonspecific language is a give away.

        How can people get away with a legal claim to own something like "A system and method causes a computer to detect and perform actions on structures identified in computer data."

        EG: "There's this thingy, it's a computer action. And there's that stuff, compooter data. It must be organized into some sort of structure. Yeah that's it. And they interact and do stuff, of course. Therefore, I claim it all. It's all mine, mine, mine. It's my IDEA. Whatever you do, if my stoopid definition applies, I own it!!!! Bwahhhh! Ha ha... Patent system rocks! Let's get a judge that never took Comp Sci! Psyke! MOOLAH!"

        What a joke.
        voltrarian
      • @WillErz

        Precisely! Prior to the iPhone, all smart phones looked like Treos. After the iPhone, they all looked like iPhones. The only innovator in this space is Apple. All the rest are copying. Patents were designed and intended precisely to stop that sort of crap and reward the inventor.
        fr_gough
      • RE: Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

        @fr_gough, you have a bad memory... There were several touch screen only phones and some that had the slide out keyboards.

        also, very few phones look like the iPhone so I don't know why you say that and never provide evidence.

        @Wilerz, you can't have ever used an android device or you would know how crazy innovative they are.
        slickjim
      • I use an Android mobile every day.

        @ Peter Perry

        It's an obvious imitation of the iPhone, and isn't innovative at all. It's buggy as well, and I'm looking forward to replacing it with a Nokia Windows Phone.
        WilErz
      • RE: Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

        @Peter Perry/cmccain810/Plain Logic : Now if it was Microsoft taking HTC to court this would probably get a different reaction like Microsoft just wants money, or Microsoft is killing open source, or Microsoft wants to kill innovation, blah, blah, blah.
        Gis Bun
      • RE: Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

        @fr_gough

        I believe the iPhone was innovative in a lot of ways as well. But it was not innovative in a lot of <i>patentable</i> ways. Technologically it was behind the times when it was released and its innovation was mostly around user experience and UI design which means mostly software patents which mostly are junk.

        Make no mistake, those two patents are CRAP and a prime example of why the patent office needs some serious reform.

        The first is a patent on doing something with data that you found through parsing data like emails. "Other people find and search data, but WE do something with what we find." What a herp derp patent. Which clerk let that one in, and have we fired him yet?

        The second isn't much better.

        It would be a sad day, not just for Android, or the customer, or HTC if Apple succeeds. It will be a sad day for the entire software industry. If they win with junk like this, then writing software of any kind becomes impossible without a stable of lawyers and BS patents.
        SlithyTove
      • RE: Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

        If the patents hold, Apple will still have to alllow HTC and other Android products license use at reasonable royalties. Why, US and European governments want no monopoly of any one major sector of the economy and would start anti trust measures against Apple if it holds back the Android and even the MS mobile OS as apps are now the standard for mobile screens. No one wants to drill down several touch screens to start a function such as mail or a game, app icons and how they enable functions are the new shortcuts of the mobile and pad market. These are too necessary to allow one vendor to own the whole market.
        tbones.2
      • RE: Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

        @WilErz

        Can you even explain what those two patents involve?
        The first, from my reading of it, patents the idea of a GUI.
        That means not only does every Android device infringe but just about every modern computational device infringes as well.
        The judge in this case, I'm sure, didn't have a tech background.
        We either need to rid the world of software patents or we need to elect tech-head judges with the ability to understand these patents, what they entail and the willingness to throw them out of court when the patent is this broad.
        tmsbrdrs
      • RE: Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

        @ WilErz<br><br>These pattents don't have ANYTHING to do with the iPhone. If you actually read the patent, you will see that they were issues 15 and 17 years ago! Long before Apple ever thought about making phones. The first patent is one that I think was to cover Hypertext (something HP did before Apple) and the second one looks like Apple invented the modem (which we all know they didn't). So as many have stated, Apple should never have been awarded the patents in the first place. And be reading the patents, every 'smart phone' on the market infringes on one or both of these patents. I think it will all work out during the appeal process, but I sure would have loved to been in the courtroom to listen to the BS the Apple lawyers spewed to get a judge to think ancient patents apply to current phones. More so, Iwould have loved to hear him actually describe what the patents actually cover pertaining to phones. You gotta love out court systems, they are so screwed up. Almost as much as the patent system. I think if I added enough fluff, I could get a patent on the patent system. I just have to make it confusing enough that the clerk can't understand it, "Patent Approved!"
        PC Developer
      • RE: Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

        @every one who sports the opinion that iphone is innovative. There is nothing innovative about the iphone. The iphone looks like any number of handheld computers sold years before the iphone ever hit the market. Apple adds a 3g antenna to a palm computer and the fan boys want to act like its some brilliant innovation.
        techadmin.cc
      • RE: Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

        @techadmin "Apple adds a 3g antenna to a palm computer and the fan boys want to act like its some brilliant innovation."

        I nominate this Comment of the Year, for brilliant incisiveness in pointing out glaring obviousness.

        Well done.
        Joe McPlumber
      • RE: Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

        @every one who claims the chariot is innovative. There is nothing innovative about the chariot. The chariot looks like any number of horse drawn structures sold years before the chariot ever hit the market. Some guy just adds two wheels to a platform and has the idea to ride it into battle and the fan boys want to act like its some brilliant innovation.
        kallocain
    • RE: Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

      @locopollito
      This is tooo late by HTC .. and its even now its not admiting !!
      http://www.geekwindow.com/2011/07/apple-wins-patent-case-against-android.html
      TechExpert21
      • RE: Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

        @TechExpert21

        Apple filed the suit against HTC claiming 10 patents were infringed, and this is the initial ruling. In that ruling, 8 of the patent infringement claims were thrown out, and there are still several appeals processes to go through. I don't see this as being much of an issue, especially when they start looking at "prior art". These may very well be 2 patents that should never have been granted in the first place.
        brichter
      • RE: Apple deals massive patent blow to HTC, Android in serious trouble

        @TechExpert21

        But they have good reason not to admit it: the patent is claiming to cover multiplexing and the Command pattern!
        mejohnsn