Apple vs. Android: The way it may go down

Apple vs. Android: The way it may go down

Summary: The international court ruling that HTC has infringed on Apple's patents has brought Apple and Android to an important crossroad that will likely impact the mobile segment for a long time.

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Companies involved in mobile tech turn to patents to protect research and innovation from being used by competitors. Getting intellectual property (IP) protected is a major effort by all companies, not only to protect its own IP but to keep from getting challenged by competitors as is happening regularly. Apple and HTC are going head-to-head currently over patent infringement, and the former has won its first victory in court where it has been determined that HTC has improperly used Apple's IP in some of its Android smartphones. This has brought Apple and Android to an important crossroad that will likely impact the mobile segment for a long time.

HTC has stated it is willing to negotiate with Apple over the patents under litigation. That's not surprising, as companies are always willing to avoid legal battles when it makes financial sense to do so. HTC is in a very vulnerable position having a court already ruled against it, so it must count on negotiating a license agreement with Apple to keep producing Android phones. What isn't clear is what Apple's response to HTC will be regarding such a license deal.

HTC recently announced it was buying graphics company S3. This was in no doubt due to the legal situation with Apple, as S3 has won infringement suits against Apple. HTC probably hopes to trade IP licenses with Apple to make the infringement decisions against both sides go away. Apple hasn't acknowledged this situation yet, and probably can't until HTC closes the deal to buy S3.

Apple is not in the business of licensing its technology, and the company is in such a strong financial position there is really no reason for it to do so. HTC is probably ready to hand over a billion dollars or so to make the Apple situation go away, but this money won't really impact Apple's core business. There is a mistaken belief that companies like Apple must license their patented technology to competitors, but that's not the case. Apple could simply tell HTC no deal, and get injunctions to stop them from producing any Android devices in the future.

I can envision Steve Jobs appearing on camera for a simple statement in reaction to the outcry that would happen should Apple refuse to deal with HTC. He might point out that Apple is not in the business of licensing its technology, it builds things. Things based on technology it develops, and it recommends that HTC and others do the same.

If Apple puts HTC out of the Android device business, its next order would likely be to go after Samsung. Samsung is coming on strong in the mobile segment, due primarily to its Android business. Apple laid the groundwork to go after Samsung with the current suits for copying design, and the next step will be to file infringement suits for the same Android technology it has successfully defended in court against HTC. That would almost be a slam-dunk.

That would pave the way to stop Samsung from selling Android devices since the infringed technology is actually part of Android. With the top two Android device makers out of play, the platform would be in serious trouble. That is when Apple might finally go directly after Google for developing the infringing Android platform.

However this shakes out it is going to be a bumpy ride for Android device makers. Apple was brilliant to go after them and not Google, as it keeps the platform under a dark cloud for a longer period. It is not certain that Apple will ultimately win all legal battles against Android, but the ruling against HTC gives it a great start.

Image credit: Flickr user Tsahi Levent-Levi

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Topics: Apple, Android, Google, Legal, Mobility

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320 comments
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  • RE: Apple vs. Android: The way it may go down

    Apple needs to get off its high horse and realize HTC has been making touchscreen mobile devices for longer then Apple. Apple needs to respect its elders! Apple would not be in the mobile devices world with out others paving the way
    teknami
    • RE: Apple vs. Android: The way it may go down

      @teknami I agree...
      techtastic83
      • No, Apple was the first with touch screen with Newton (1993) -- long before

        @techtastic83: HTC and other major competitors.

        Also, this monotouch/resistive thing did not pave any way to multi-touch capacitive UI that Apple came-up with in 2007.
        DDERSSS
      • actually IBM had the first touchscreen smartphone

        @DeRSSSS
        The IBM Simon was both the first smartphone and the first touchscreen phone; that's by the by as the patents Apple has predate all smartphones...
        mary.branscombe
      • No, Microsoft was first with multitouch...

        @techtastic83
        ...in 2005 with the Surface, which Apple borrowed in 2007. Funny how AT&T now uses the Surface in their stores to sell IPhones. But HTC and Google are WAY behind both Apple and Microsoft. Android is still an infant.
        josh@...
      • RE: Apple vs. Android: The way it may go down

        The patent office simply should not have granted Apple patents for the touch screen phones. They weren't the first touch screen phone, nor the first touch screen handheld device. Blame the monkeys are the patent office.
        .ray
      • Microsoft Surface went on actual sale in 2007, and you say it was 'earlier'

        @josh@... only because Microsoft shows demos of products that years ahead of their real availability, and Apple does not.

        And, anyway, table multi-touch has nothing to do with Apple's multi-touch in both UI (two hands waving against fingers) and technology (cameras et cetera against capacitive screens).
        DDERSSS
    • RE: Apple vs. Android: The way it may go down

      @teknami
      Whaat? It's ITC's ruling! Are you saying you know the case better than the experts? Are you an IP attorney? That's a heck of an opening argument "respect its elders" LOL
      HTC= High Tech Copycat
      lqr_up_frnt
      • Don't care, Don't care, Don't care!

        @lqr_up_frnt I'm not an IP attorney or any other type of lawyer. I also understand a company's right and desire to protect its IP. But I am so sick of law suits I could barf. Ever since the beginning of the tech industry we have seen nothing but a never ending series of court cases. While there have been winners and losers, the overall impact has been to line the pockets of law firms and drain cash from the industry as a whole.

        Like I said, I understand a company's need to protect it's IP. But there has just got to be a better way. I'm not saying I know what that is, but there has got to be one.
        cornpie
      • RE: Apple vs. Android: The way it may go down

        @lqr_up_frnt <br><br>HTC, Samsung, LG, and Motorola (and the rest of the Open Handset Alliance) have SO MUCH mobile IP combined that they could effectively take Apple out of the picture. Apple had better be REAL careful.<br><br>I like Apple, but they are playing a dangerous game.
        Kangaruhs
      • RE: Apple vs. Android: The way it may go down

        @lqr_up_frnt He may not be an IP attorney but you are certainly laughable in your assumptions.
        blueskip
      • RE: Apple vs. Android: The way it may go down

        @Kangaruhs You are most certainly right!
        blueskip
      • RE: Apple vs. Android: The way it may go down

        @lqr_up_frnt

        http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/441/when-patents-attack

        Apple is a troll, the courts haven't kept up in 30 years. Yes, the average person is better able to call bull on this than the courts. Read the patent application yourself. If after having done so, you can't identify at least 300 incidences of prior art or if you fail to consider it obvious, understand that you have no business in tech.
        tkejlboom
      • RE: Apple vs. Android: The way it may go down

        @lqr_up_frnt It's not ITC's ruling. It was one Judge representing ITC and it was a preliminary ruling which the other judges said shouldn't have happened and will most likely be overturned. You don't read what ITC has been saying? You post this stuff but you don't seem to read.
        Guyver21
      • lqr_up_frnt. Laughable.

        This says it all about Jobs and the HTC or any other Apple legal aggression:

        http://gizmodo.com/5483914/steve-jobs-1996-good-artists-copy-great-artists-steal

        Jobs has always been a hypocrite and appears very convincingly to have a criminal mind. From the stock options to the days when he was illegally selling long distance stealing devices for telephones.
        Because Apple can use open source and dump them, leading to the openDarwin team to quit in disgust, to stealing ideas not yet patented and throwing an Apple label on it while filing for patents like a machine gun, all ideas that did not come from the hals of Apple. It's disgusting. Totally and nauseatingly disgusting.
        xuniL_z
      • RE: Apple vs. Android: The way it may go down

        @lqr_up_frnt Please understand ITC's role before commenting , ITC can ONLY enforce patent rights already awarded it CANNOT rule a patent as invalid. HTC is appealing the VALIDITY of these patents in the right forums, Apple would not win anything if those patents are declared invalid. I have also understood so far that these patents do seem to be generic in nature and might be candidates for getting invalidated, however the jury literally is out on that one, so hold you horses and pray!

        BTW apple started making touch screen devices LONG after companies like Nokia and HTC (If you didnt know HTC was OEM to many brands, please google). So the original coment by teknami is true. These patent wars however are becoming a little silly like cat fights.
        prasanna_vps
      • What a crass comment

        @lqr_up_frnt

        HTC make fine gear, as do Samsung, as do Apple. I had a Sony p800 and P900 way before Apples touchscreen phones. Get off your highhorse and face the truth,,,, everybody builds on everyones good ideas. Thats the way of the world. I do it, you do it.. it's not stealing, it's evolution.

        I hope HTC get their bargaining power and I hope Android, IOS, RIM, and HP Web perform in their own markets. Man the world would be a worse place if Apple supplied us all. (And I repeat, my works iphone and ipad sit in a drawer... I prefer my asus transfmer and Blackberry Torch. Please let me and others choose what we prefer rather than you tell us whats best. Cos you're wrong! )
        johnmckay
    • Like the Newton.

      @teknami

      Teknami needs to go back and read history.
      Bruizer
      • But the question is this..

        He may be able to read, but will he, is the point. He just loves making useless statement to see if we are on the ball.
        MacNewton
    • RE: Apple vs. Android: The way it may go down

      @teknami
      that still doesnt change the fact that htc violated a patent now does it.
      rocketboy5114