Updated: Apple said Tuesday that it is suing HTC for infringing on 20 patents related to the iPhone and pursuing a permanent cease and desist order that could derail a wide range of Android devices.Specifically, Apple is suing HTC in a Delaware district court and the U.S. International Trade Commission for violating patents related to "the iPhone's user interface, underlying architecture and hardware." Apple didn't detail the specific patents involved.
In a statement, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said:
Funny that's what everyone in the smartphone food chain says. The ITC is going to be quite busy evaluating all the patent lawsuits against various mobile phone players.
"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. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."
HTC wasn't commenting until it reviewed the complaint.
Also see: Adrian Kingsley-Hughes' take and court documents (PDF).
For those keeping score at home, here's the ITC's plate:
The big question is whether Apple's first serve against HTC will escalate into a bevy of countersuits like the Nokia patent war has. It's unclear that HTC has the history or intellectual property to countersue Apple into a cross-licensing pact. Apple signaled that it wouldn't let competitors run off with its intellectual property a little more than a year ago and hasn't disappointed.
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Indeed, Apple's complaint mentioned Android just as much as it does HTC. Devices targeted by Apple include HTC's Nexus One, Dream, Magic, Droid Eris and Google G1 among others.
Should Apple be successful it could derail the marketing and importation of many Android devices in the U.S.
In a footnote to its complaint, Apple said:
The categories listed are a shorthand summary of products currently accused of infringement by complainants. These descriptions, and the examples given therein, are not intended to exclusively define or otherwise limited the categories of accused products. Respondents have announced their intention to release additional products in the future that will infringe the asserted patents.
Then as an example Apple mentions that HTC will sell the HD2 in early 2010.
It's also notable that Apple hasn't sued Google directly. By going after device makers individually Apple could hamper the hardware partners that Google needs to bring Android to a bevy of devices.
The laundry list: