HTC hits back at Apple with Google patents

The war between Apple and Android manufacturers has entered a new phase, with Google entering the fray by passing on nine patents to HTC

HTC has launched fresh intellectual-property claims against Apple, using nine patents it received from Google last week.

Samsung Galaxy S II

HTC has launched fresh intellectual-property claims against Apple, using nine patents it received from Google last week. Photo credit: Bonnie Cha/CNET News

The Android handset maker used five of the patents to extend the suits it is already waging against Apple in Delaware federal court and at the US International Trade Commission (ITC). It also filed a new suit in Delaware using the other four patents. The new claims were filed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Google handed the patents over to HTC on 29 August, according to a Bloomberg report. None of the patents were originally applied for by Google itself. Four originate from Motorola, three from Openwave and two from PalmSource, and all were acquired by Google over the last couple of years.

"HTC will continue to protect its patented inventions against infringement from Apple until such infringement stops. We believe that we have an obligation to protect our business, our industry partners and our customers, who love using our products," said HTC's general counsel Grace Lei in a statement on the new lawsuits.

The moves mark a new stage in the fight between Android makers and Apple, which claims the Google-backed mobile operating system violates some of its own patents. Until now, Google has stayed clear of involvement in the several cases being waged over technology in Android. Neither Google nor HTC has commented on the patent transaction itself, including the amount paid.

Android war

The patent war between Apple and HTC began in March 2010, when Apple sued the Taiwanese manufacturer. HTC countersued a couple of months later, and the two companies have been increasing the legal pressure ever since. HTC has said it is open to a settlement, but any talks that have been going on have not yet produced a resolution.

Several other companies are locked in combat with Apple over Android. The most notable is Samsung, which has seen part of its Galaxy Tab tablet range temporarily banned in Germany and Australia, due to complaints from Apple. Microsoft is also going after manufacturers such as Motorola over Android, and Oracle has directly attacked Google over Android's implementation of Java.

Google stayed out of the fray until early August, when it accused Apple, Microsoft and Oracle of ganging up on Android. It subsequently announced plans to buy Motorola Mobility, largely for its patents, in an attempt to strike back at Android's foes.

Latest patent claims

In a letter on Tuesday, HTC asked the ITC to delay its decision on whether to investigate the suit filed on 16 August, so that the new claims can be considered alongside the others already in the case. The five patents added to the existing ITC and Delaware complaints are:

  • US Patent number 6,473,006, which covers zooming the display of characters entered from a telephone keypad;
  • 6,708,214, which covers a hypermedia input mode for a mobile communication device;
  • 6,868,283 and 7,289,772, which both cover allowing status bar user responses; and
  • 7,020,849, which covers dynamic displays for communication devices.

The four patents included in the new suit are:

  • 5,418,524, which covers over-the-air upgrading of radio modem application software;
  • 5,630,152, which covers a communication protocol for interfacing between devices;
  • 5,630,159, which covers "method and apparatus for personal attribute selection having delay management method and apparatus for preference establishment when preferences in a donor device are unavailable";
  • and number 5,302,947, which covers loading software from radio modems onto external computers.

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