Apple sues HTC for iPhone patent infringements

Apple said on Tuesday that it is suing Taiwan-based smartphone manufacturer HTC for infringing on 20 Apple iPhone patents.

The patents relate to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware. Apple has filed the lawsuit with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and in U.S. District Court in Delaware.

“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,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”

At least one of the patents relates to "Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image". According to the court papers Apple is seeking a permanent injunction that would stop HTC from selling devices in the United States of America.

This isn't the first time the iPhone has been caught up in legal fights. Nokia filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC) in December 2009 saying almost all of the company's products violate its patents not just the Apple iPhone. Nokia believes Apple's iPhone, iPods and computers all violate its intellectual property rights. Apple counter sued to fight the allegations and the case is still ongoing.

HTC manufactures a large number of devices based on the Windows Mobile and Android operating systems. Google's Nexus One Android phone is also manufactured by HTC.

Update: Gizmodo has posted the full court paper filings, included below.

Update 2: HTC has now issued an official statement: “HTC is a mobile technology innovator and patent holder that has been very focused over the past 13 years on creating many of the most innovative smartphones. HTC values patent rights and their enforcement but is also committed to defending its own technology innovations. HTC only learned of Apple’s actions this morning via media reports, and therefore we have not yet had the opportunity to investigate the filings. Until we have had this opportunity, we are unable to comment on the validity of the claims being made against HTC.”

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Google acquires Picnik.com

Next Story

Topeka changes name to Google, KS; pushes for fiber

104 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Patent should be thrown out under "obviousness". Clearly performing gestures is important to unlock a phone. Pressing an imagine isnt exactly that different from pushing a button.

How do these patents get filed?

I hate Jobs with a passion, the man seems like an ignorant idiot.

Hilariously, I own an iPhone but if there was an alternative I'd bloody well take that just so I could trash Apple more.

I'm not sure on the details on why Nokia are sueing them but I love the hypocrisy of his statement.

This is uncool. HTC has been making phone for a long time since Pocket PC era. Apple has just entered the phone business in 2007. If HTC loses, it is unjust. Mr. Jobs is getting frustrated because his company is in serious troubles from competition.

satus said,
Mr. Jobs is getting frustrated because his company is in serious troubles from competition.

Link please? Their stocks continue to rise, just as slow as always but its still going up. The sales are the same as always. Just like every other major computer company out there.

They might be too scared to directly go after Google, but I'm pretty sure that if Apple dare to touch the Nexus One, Google won't let it go.

m-p{3} said,
They might be too scared to directly go after Google, but I'm pretty sure that if Apple dare to touch the Nexus One, Google won't let it go.

Read the article and what they are suing over. Otherwise don't comment. You are just as bad as the Mac Fanboys. Google doesn't create the phones. They just made the software to run it and told someone else to make the phones. Patents don't apply to software. Copyright does. This is over patents.

Edited by SputnikGamer, Mar 3 2010, 6:12am :

Apple is scared. Apart from apps (without background apps) the iPhoneOS has barely evolved since release. Compare that to how much windows mobile or even the android os (since 1.0 to 2.1) has changed in the past year or so.
In the tech business, if you are not contantly evolving and getting better you are dead. Apple by the looks of it does not have much to improve on.
I would not be suprised if iPhone sales start dropping over the next few months.

Certainly agree, Apple don't even want to support Flash - probably because Jobs is an idiot and thinks it is terrible, why doesn't he tell that to the millions of people using it.

I like the look of the Windows Mobile OS, I may grab one.

http://operation420.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=1378

**** crApple. They are just jealous because HTC makes better phones than they ever will.

This is just getting over the top...

No-one can release any product without some company claiming it's infringing on it's patents or copyright..

Can you guys please, i beg of you as a consumer, just get back to making products, not sueing everybody? please...

Wierd

Nokia sue Apple

Its yay go go Nokia

Apple sue HTC and its grrr boo Apple


Just another day in the biased dumb world of the stupid neowin fanboys

Maybe if you actually read even half the article you would know how absurd this lawsuit is.

1. HTC started making phones well before Apple did. Stuff like touchflo existed before the iPhone did. So I don't see what they copied from Apple here.
2. HTC doesn't make the OS on the phone. So "Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image" doesn't make sense. It's Google/Microsoft that implements this.
3. Apple didn't invent multi-touch. And nor did they invent multi-touch gestures like pinch zoom.

---

Know what I think? Apple is too cheap / scared to go after Microsoft / Google, the ones that actually design whats on the phone while HTC just makes the hardware and a pretty interface, because they know they would lose badly. And instead they go after a much smaller company that can't dedicate as much resources to fighting a lawsuit as Apple can.

Here's something for you to read:

http://www.engadget.com/2010/03/02/apple-specifically-going-after-android-in-htc-lawsuit/
http://www.engadget.com/2010/03/02/apple-vs-htc-a-patent-breakdown/

Go see how absurd some of those patents are. And I'll quote one line for you:

We've gone through each of the patents in both lawsuits and we're more convinced than ever that this lawsuit is really about Android, not HTC.

Edited by -Razorfold, Mar 2 2010, 11:56pm :

evo_spook said,
Wierd

Nokia sue Apple

Its yay go go Nokia

Apple sue HTC and its grrr boo Apple


Just another day in the biased dumb world of the stupid neowin fanboys

So, all of us on Neowin are biased fanboys are we, what does that make you then since you're a subscriber and not just a member.

evo_spook said,
Just another day in the biased dumb world of the stupid neowin fanboys
And that makes you what? Try reading the article before spouting ****.

/- Razorfold said,
Maybe if you actually read even half the article you would know how absurd this lawsuit is.

1. HTC started making phones well before Apple did. Stuff like touchflo existed before the iPhone did. So I don't see what they copied from Apple here.
2. HTC doesn't make the OS on the phone. So "Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image" doesn't make sense. It's Google/Microsoft that implements this.
3. Apple didn't invent multi-touch. And nor did they invent multi-touch gestures like pinch zoom.

---

Know what I think? Apple is too cheap / scared to go after Microsoft / Google, the ones that actually design whats on the phone while HTC just makes the hardware and a pretty interface, because they know they would lose badly. And instead they go after a much smaller company that can't dedicate as much resources to fighting a lawsuit as Apple can.

Here's something for you to read:

http://www.engadget.com/2010/03/02/apple-specifically-going-after-android-in-htc-lawsuit/
http://www.engadget.com/2010/03/02/apple-vs-htc-a-patent-breakdown/

Go see how absurd some of those patents are. And I'll quote one line for you:

+1

/- Razorfold said,

HTC just makes the hardware and a pretty interface,

You do realize patents deal directly with devices/hardware and the processes of creating those things. You can't sue Microsoft or Google because they wouldn't be the ones breaking the patents as they don't make the devices. While, like most people here, I agree suing for patents that should never have been granted in the first place is retarded, you really sound ignorant to the what a patent actually is.

SputnikGamer said,

You do realize patents deal directly with devices/hardware and the processes of creating those things. You can't sue Microsoft or Google because they wouldn't be the ones breaking the patents as they don't make the devices. While, like most people here, I agree suing for patents that should never have been granted in the first place is retarded, you really sound ignorant to the what a patent actually is.

Ever heard of a software patent? A lot of the ones apple is suing for are software related. Not hardware. Hence if apple wanted to sue google they can.a

/- Razorfold said,

Ever heard of a software patent? A lot of the ones apple is suing for are software related. Not hardware. Hence if apple wanted to sue google they can.a

Did you read what I wrote at all? A patent doesn't not apply to the software. It applies to how the software accomplishes something.

[quote=SputnikGamer said,]

Did you read what I wrote at all? A patent doesn't not apply to the software. It applies to how the software accomplishes something. This means the "software patent" applies to the "process" of which the software uses to do whatever it does. These laws suits are about the patents that HTC, not Google, violated according to Apple.

This could come back to bite Apple, and destroy their patents.

In a twisted way, I wish Apple would go after Microsoft. Microsoft has enough patents and prior art to not only kill Apple patents, but strike back and halt the sales of virtually all of Apples products.

thenetavenger said,
This could come back to bite Apple, and destroy their patents.

In a twisted way, I wish Apple would go after Microsoft. Microsoft has enough patents and prior art to not only kill Apple patents, but strike back and halt the sales of virtually all of Apples products.

I think you win the dumb post of the year award

Mr. hypocrite in chief... let me introduce a video of yourself:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW0DUg63lqU

I wish this was legally binding ;)

Ikshaar said,
Mr. hypocrite in chief... let me introduce a video of yourself:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW0DUg63lqU

I wish this was legally binding ;)

Yikes!

Billus said,
Yea Apple, come back when you've designed a decent phone.

Do you even think about what you're writing when you troll? The iPhone is a very decent phone. That's why they've sold millions of them. That's why tech journalists the world over almost without exception review them glowingly, and the people who own them adore them.

Come on... try a bit harder next time.

Better not get in the way of my Supersonic this summer! Patent trolls **** me off. The problem is that inventing something doesn't count...only patenting it it seems. As I joked on another forum, if Apple produced toilet paper they would have already patented the wiping motion.

Apparently they are really going specifically after Android devices:

http://www.engadget.com/2010/03/02/apple-specifically-going-after-android-in-htc-lawsuit/

BigBoy said,
Apparently they are really going specifically after Android devices:

http://www.engadget.com/2010/03/02/apple-specifically-going-after-android-in-htc-lawsuit/

I just read through that and it appears so... Very interesting. I guess Apple will be following this case up with one against Google...

M_Lyons10 said,

I just read through that and it appears so... Very interesting. I guess Apple will be following this case up with one against Google...

Which will be followed by Google suing Apple and the cycle continues. Business as usual? Real news would be if any of these cases every got anywhere.

"competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours"

I wonder if that's what Jobs thought when he "invented" the Mac GUI concept at a meeting with the folks at Xerox.

C_Guy said,
"competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours"

I wonder if that's what Jobs thought when he "invented" the Mac GUI concept at a meeting with the folks at Xerox.

HAHAHAHAHA

Shadrack said,
It's pretty sad how lousy the US Patent system is. I hope a judge strikes this down.

Yeah, it is pretty bad unfortunately...

And guess who has to pay for all these stupid BS lawsuits by companies abusing patents for ideas they didn't even create....we do!

Somehow this lawsuit just reminded me another one in which a certain company was caught and found guilty of 'willfully stealing' some small company's IP.
http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2009/04/apple-found-guilty-of-willful-patent-infringement.ars

Pretty much everything in the iPhone has been stolen from other companies. The only thing that Apple did was package it all into a shiny box.

FUUUUUUU Steve Jobs.

Yea apple feels the pressure. And is grasping at straws is love to see how many patends apple has "borrowed" from htc

It's obvious some other companies are trying to copy the iPhone. There are now several models that you can describe as exact clones (right down to the icons), so yes, they are right in protecting their innovations.

hagar said,
It's obvious some other companies are trying to copy the iPhone. There are now several models that you can describe as exact clones (right down to the icons), so yes, they are right in protecting their innovations.

"citation needed"
Show me those "exact clones" from HTC.

RealFduch said,

"citation needed"
Show me those "exact clones" from HTC.

Exactly, I thought HTC made WinMo based Phones and not iPhoneOS based Phones.

I could be wrong though!!!!!

Those exact clones are those cheap knock offs. They have absolutely nothing to do with HTC and the same thing exists for Nokias, WM and android devices too.

hagar said,
It's obvious some other companies are trying to copy the iPhone. There are now several models that you can describe as exact clones (right down to the icons), so yes, they are right in protecting their innovations.

I have ABSOLUTELY no idea what you're talking about... Are you referring to baked roms? Some of those have similar icons... But that isn't HTC...

M_Lyons10 said,

I have ABSOLUTELY no idea what you're talking about... Are you referring to baked roms? Some of those have similar icons... But that isn't HTC...

Read what your OP said. Never said it was HTC stealing icons. Was just making the point that companies copy stuff all the time. HTC just got called out on whatever it is that they copied.

....should be interesting!!!! hope apple gets taken down a few notches... they are getting a bit big for their boots i think...!

noleafclover said,
Steve Jobs is a jerk, Apple is on the way down - again...

This whole lawsuit smacks of a money grabbing operation. Apple know that Nokia will "take them to the cleaners" and are just trying to grab as much cash as they can.

Depressing stuff.. but it was pretty clear from the original iPhone launch they were painfully proud of it, and were going to protect it to the extreme through patents.. this doesn't surprise me one iota.

I just need to make sure I can get my HTC Nexus One or HTC Desire ASAP, before all these silly lawsuits drop ;)

gtxvortex said,
Apple will one day fall so f'ing hard of its high horse. Trust me.

Day 1 after Steve Jobs retires

gtxvortex said,
Apple will one day fall so f'ing hard of its high horse. Trust me.

Because Google, Microsoft, and everyone other major company out there does not sue...

Wait ppl... In a few day HTC will counter sue Apple for infringing their patents (they around a decade i think and they got have some in their desks). They settle and everyone continues with their lives...

r1ddl3r said,
Wait ppl... In a few day HTC will counter sue Apple for infringing their patents (they around a decade i think and they got have some in their desks). They settle and everyone continues with their lives...

Yeah, I agree. This could be interesting...

This could sir up a whole bunch of problems. Suing a company that has been making phones longer then you could bring up some patents that apple is infringing of htc's

Apple should really not turn into microsoft. They better be awfully carefull with this lawsuit.

majortom1981 said,

Apple should really not turn into microsoft. They better be awfully carefull with this lawsuit.

So Apple should not turn into a company that makes great software at reasonable prices? Here, here! I agree, don't you ever change Apple!

majortom1981 said,
This could sir up a whole bunch of problems. Suing a company that has been making phones longer then you could bring up some patents that apple is infringing of htc's

Apple should really not turn into microsoft. They better be awfully carefull with this lawsuit.

So Apple should let random companies continue to sue them but not sue other companies. Sounds like a sound business model to me. People need to stop putting double standards on companies. Don't complain when Apple gets sued but give anyone hell sues (insert fanboy market of choice)

Apple is still new to the mobile world and HTC has been around f years interesting to see Apple argues their case, they obviously see HTC as a major threat and quite right to.

Seeing how HTC has been around in mobile way longer than Apple, I'd like to see just what parts who copied from who exactly.

GP007 said,
Seeing how HTC has been around in mobile way longer than Apple, I'd like to see just what parts who copied from who exactly.

Exactly, I agree.

The problem, Jobs, is that your company tries to patent EVERYTHING that isn't an invention. At some point, I'm sure you've been granted a patent for the kitchen sink. Patents only serve to hurt competition, not encourage it.

I, for one, hope Apple loses. Provided they cannot prove that HTC knowingly violated any of Apple's patents.

Hurmoth said,
The problem, Jobs, is that your company tries to patent EVERYTHING that isn't an invention. At some point, I'm sure you've been granted a patent for the kitchen sink. Patents only serve to hurt competition, not encourage it.

I, for one, hope Apple loses. Provided they cannot prove that HTC knowingly violated any of Apple's patents.

Isn't that what they want though, no competition?

neufuse said,
Isn't that what they want though, no competition?
By no means am I say that isn't true, but you'd think by now Apple would be use to competition :P

Hurmoth said,
Patents only serve to hurt competition, not encourage it.

It's really a double edged sword. They initially serve to encourage innovation (why else would anyone innovate if there was no incentive from the R&D spent?) But after one is granted the patent, it pretty much stifles the competition unless they can possibly come up with a better implementation--which that other company would probably patent as well. And the cycle goes on until the patent expires.

Hurmoth said,
Provided they cannot prove that HTC knowingly violated any of Apple's patents.

Unfortunately, as is mostly the case in law, ignorance of it is not a defense.

As giga pointed out, it's a double edged sword because truly unique, hard-to-create ideas (but not copy) need to be rewarded. The problem is that just about everything seems to be patented, and most of the things everyone seems to agree are obvious.

Touching with one's finger to a screen is obvious, as everyone tries to do it anyway, and going from that to multitouch is obvious as well. Apple kind of points it out in their own marketing as they refer to everything as natural movements--natural movements are obvious. You cannot patent anything obvious, and that's obvious to someone in the field.

Now, what they actually patented is anyone's guess. Maybe they patented the manufacturing process (e.g., "Use underpaid, child labor to craft the phone shell" - just kidding, I own both a Mac and an iPhone 3GS), and HTC, who--let's face it--is in the part of the world known for blindly copying. With that last bit of knowledge in mind, I do wonder if Apple does have a case. I would be pretty ****ed to see all of my innovation stolen from me and used against me by my competitor in that part of the world.

Then again, if I had $40 billion sitting in the bank, then I would move at least some of the factories to America, even if it meant charging more for the products. Higher quality staff, although higher paid, could probably do things more rapidly and, at least in theory, with higher quality. The same logic applies to having help desk located in the US versus some foreign country. Pay more for someone that speaks the language and can actually understand the problem, and throughput will increase significantly (meaning less of them are necessary, and customers will be happier).

giga said,

It's really a double edged sword. They initially serve to encourage innovation (why else would anyone innovate if there was no incentive from the R&D spent?) But after one is granted the patent, it pretty much stifles the competition unless they can possibly come up with a better implementation--which that other company would probably patent as well. And the cycle goes on until the patent expires.

You're right, but they should be taking innovative ideas that they have and turning them into must have experiences / devices... If someone else can improve on an idea, and release it on their must have device, the original creator could yet improve on their idea... In the end everyone wins... I think, like many things, that the patent system has just been abused and twisted in such a way that it's self serving...

chaos_disorder said,
I'm assuming that this is largely due to HTC's Android phones having multi-touch.

Or probably because HTC have started getting a lot more coverage lately, becoming more of an immediate competitor.

chaos_disorder said,
I'm assuming that this is largely due to HTC's Android phones having multi-touch.

In that case wouldn't they sue Google?

Tom W said,
In that case wouldn't they sue Google?

Multi-touch is all about the hardware, not just the OS.

And I haven't read the documents, but I doubt this relates to multi-touch as dozens of companies have multi-touch and a few (Microsoft included) had it long before Apple.

I think usually these things relate to the specific implementation...usually the patents are fairly specific. So I don't think saying "they have multitouch" is enough as thats too broad, but perhaps something more specific to how HTC does it violates something Apple has patented.

My take anyway.

Answer me this; does anyone really care who sues who now days. It seems that is all these phone makers and developers are doing. And, of course Apple is in the middle. This is just getting to be the natural case anymore in the tech industry. Who will be next on the dock. . .

It would actually be odd if one of these companies wasn't suing another or many others these days.

What have we come to? Certainly, patent law needs a compete overhaul.

Pam14160 said,
Answer me this; does anyone really care who sues who now days. It seems that is all these phone makers and developers are doing. And, of course Apple is in the middle. This is just getting to be the natural case anymore in the tech industry. Who will be next on the dock. . .

A don't like giving my money to *******s.

DeltaFalcon said,

What have we come to? Certainly, patent law needs a compete overhaul.

The laws themselves are fine. It what the patent agency is allowing to be patented that is retarded.

Singh400 said,
*sighs* Go and take a jump off a cliff Apple.

+1, something like unlocking with a gesture is not innovative on either side, it's common sense!

Just wait. They'll next patent the idea of putting a key in the door handle then turning the key to unlock said door. Every door knob manufacturer in the world will be paying Apple to allow us the right to use their patent to unlock our front doors.

vaximily said,

+1, something like unlocking with a gesture is not innovative on either side, it's common sense!

Regardless, it's a patent.

dagrimdialer619 said,

Regardless, it's a patent.

It's a patent, but it is also evidence that something is wrong in the international patents system.

You should not be allowed to be granted rights about things that are made of common sens and don't include something unique in its design.

A gesture over an image is ridiculous., to say the least.

I suppose Apple want to try to sue someone back, after Nokia/Kodak and maybe others are after Apple for patent infringement.

It'll be interesting to see how the UI was copied.