Apple takes second ITC potshot at HTC

Apple has filed a second complaint with the ITC alleging that more than 15 HTC devices infringe on at least one of five patents owned by the company
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

Apple has filed a second complaint against HTC with the US International Trade Commission, aimed at stopping imports of the HTC Flyer tablet and a number of its rival's smartphones into the US.

The filing, lodged on Friday, claims that the HTC devices infringe on five Apple patents to do mainly with scrolling and touchscreens. It is separate to an ITC complaint made in March 2010 by Apple, which focused on 10 different patents.

"HTC is dismayed that Apple has resorted to competition in the courts rather than the market place," Grace Lei, general counsel for HTC, said in a statement on Tuesday. "HTC continues to vehemently deny all of Apple's past and present claims against it and will continue to protect and defend its own intellectual property as it has already done this year."

In the new filing, the iPhone maker alleges HTC's handsets infringe on patents for "programmable tactile touchscreen displays and man-machine interfaces for improved vehicle instrumentation and telematics" (patent number 7,084,859); "list scrolling and document translation, scaling, and rotation on a touchscreen display" (7,469,381); "application programming interfaces for scrolling operations" (7,844,915); and "double-sided touch-sensitive panel with shield and drive combined layer" (7,920,129).

The fifth patent, for "portable computers" (6,956,564), was acquired by Apple from BT in 2008, according to a blog post on Monday by Florian Mueller, founder of the NoSoftwarePatents campaign.

The five patents in the complaint affect 17 HTC phones and tablets, including the Desire, Wildfire and Evo 4G, Muller estimates. (A full list of the devices can be found here.)

HTC is dismayed that Apple has resorted to competition in the courts rather than the market place.
– Grace Lei, HTC

Mueller noted that Apple is not the first company to file a second complaint with the ITC before a first complaint has concluded. "I take it that Apple is sceptical of the outcome of that ongoing ITC investigation and, therefore, wants a second try with potentially stronger patents," he said.

Apple did not respond by the time of writing to a request for comment about its new complaint.

In April, ITC staff recommended siding with HTC in the earlier case, as they had decided the Taiwanese company's technology did not violate the 10 patents asserted by Apple. However, this is not a final ruling — more a recommendation that carries weight — and the final initial determination is expected to be issued by the administrative law judge by 5 August.

The iPhone maker has also filed two patent lawsuits against HTC in courts in Delaware. In June, it settled a similar patent spat with Nokia. That deal involved a one-off settlement fee and on-going royalty payments for the duration of the agreement, Nokia said at the time.

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Here is the full list of devices included in the most recent ITC complaint:

  • HTC Droid Incredible
  • HTC Droid Incredible 2
  • HTC Wildfire
  • HTC T-Mobile myTouch 3G
  • HTC T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide
  • HTC T-Mobile G1
  • HTC T-Mobile G2
  • HTC Evo 4G
  • HTC Aria
  • HTC Desire
  • HTC Hero
  • HTC Merge
  • HTC Inspire 4G
  • HTC Evo 4G
  • HTC Thunderbolt
  • HTC Thunderbolt 4G
  • HTC Flyer

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