Apple Goes Offensive On Patents: Sues HTC

from the no-smartphones-at-all dept

Well, well, well. We've discussed recently how it seemed effectively impossible for any smartphone maker to survive the patent gantlet, as there are so many patents held by so many different parties, and they all seem to have recently started suing each other. The latest, sent in by a whole bunch of you (though Phillip was first) is that Apple is suing HTC, again both in the courts and using the ITC loophole. What's interesting here is that, despite Apple playing up the fact that it had over 200 patents on the iPhone, for the most part, it hadn't gone on the offensive with them. The recent patent lawsuits that Apple has been involved in have all been on the defensive side -- which we thought was a smart move for Apple. The fact that it's now going on the offensive on patents is unfortunate. It's usually a sign that a company is worried that it can't keep up with the competition.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 1:49pm

    My gloves are faster...

    "gantlet"?

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 2:07pm

      Re: My gloves are faster...

      "gantlet"?

      Yup. Last time I wrote "gauntlet" and I was corrected. Turns out "gantlet" is the proper word, though these days gauntlet is commonly used.

       

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        identicon
        Ryan, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 2:20pm

        Re: Re: My gloves are faster...

        per dictionary.com:

        Word History: The spelling gauntlet is acceptable for both gauntlet meaning "glove" or "challenge" and gauntlet meaning "a form of punishment in which lines of men beat a person forced to run between them"; but this has not always been the case. The story of the gauntlet used in to throw down the gauntlet is linguistically unexciting: it comes from the Old French word gantelet, a diminutive of gant, "glove." From the time of its appearance in Middle English (in a work composed in 1449), the word has been spelled with an au as well as an a, still a possible spelling. But the gauntlet used in to run the gauntlet is an alteration of the earlier English form gantlope, which came from the Swedish word gatlopp, a compound of gata, "lane," and lopp, "course." The earliest recorded form of the English word, found in 1646, is gantelope, showing that alteration of the Swedish word had already occurred. The English word was then influenced by the spelling of the word gauntlet, "glove," and in 1676 we find the first recorded instance of the spelling gauntlet for this word, although gantelope is found as late as 1836. From then on spellings with au and a are both found, but the au seems to have won out.

        I don't see anything about gauntlet ever being "improper". Even so, anyone who would "correct" the spelling of gauntlet is just about the most anal individual I have ever heard of.

         

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        Panoptes, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 2:39pm

        Re: Re: My gloves are faster...

        Gauntlet is British English. Gantlet is the US spelling.

         

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          Any Mouse, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 4:57pm

          Re: Re: Re: My gloves are faster...

          Funny, you spell it 'gantlet' on any spelling test in the US and it'll be marked wrong.

           

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          Xanthir, FCD (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 7:13am

          Re: Re: Re: My gloves are faster...

          Gauntlet is British English. Gantlet is the US spelling.
          No, no it's not. It *might* be some bizarre regional spelling somewhere in the US, but "gauntlet" is definitely still the way to spell it. I've never seen "gantlet" in my entire life.

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 3:00pm

        Re: Re: My gloves are faster...

        The correct word is "gauntlet" when used to describe the actions of people attempting to harm someone travelling a path.

        Gantlet is a variant of gauntlet, seen extremely occasionally, but gauntlet and gantlet finished duking it out more than a century ago. The battle began in 1676, but was all over by the early 1800's, when the spelling was pretty much gauntlet.

        On the other hand, a gantlet is a parallel set of railroad tracks that travel the same path without connecting or a convergence of lines.

         

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        Hmm, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 4:22am

        Re: Re: My gloves are faster...

        Is that some kind of Americanism?

         

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        Ellison, Jun 6th, 2010 @ 6:34am

        Re: Re: My gloves are faster...

        Yes, comes the the french "gant" for glove.

         

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    cake, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 1:51pm

    and my support for apple is done

    I don't like many things about apple's locked down system, but at least they had appeared to be innovating somewhat every year, without pulling this bs. This to me means they are now wasting money litigating instead of making the next step.

    the iphone is going on ebay, goodbye at&t, hello nexus one. Seems like the only way to get the point across, even it is one user at a time.

     

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    Bazooka Balls, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 1:58pm

    *sigh*

    That really pisses me off. I'm currently working on my second iPhone/iTouch game, I really enjoy developing for the platform, and I won't stop because it can make me money. But damn, when will these stupid patent and copyright lawsuits stop. What a crock of shit.

    Let's just stymie competition more, shall we?

    Bullshit.

     

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 2:33pm

      Re: *sigh*

      When are they going to figure out how to put ScummVM for Android 2.0? The idea of playing Sam And Max on my phone on the El is absolutely tasty....

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 6:40pm

        Re: Re: *sigh*

        "They" is me ;)
        I am working on a ScummVM port to Android 2.0, but my spare time has been even more limited than usual recently...

         

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          Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 5:41am

          Re: Re: Re: *sigh*

          Well hurry up dammit! And tell me how/where I can support the work...

           

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          Derek Kerton (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 4:44pm

          Re: Re: Re: *sigh*

          Do you mean that "'They' is me" in the general sense, as in, you are responsible for "they say pregnant women shouldn't go in spas", or "they say if you swallow chewing gum, it stays in your belly for seven years".

          If so, @$@#$ you, you don't know @#$@#.

          Or do you mean "'They' is me" in a specific case, as in you develop ScummVM, in which case you should code on!?

          Just checking.

           

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    Ima Fish (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 2:00pm

    According to Slashdot, Steve Jobs was quoted as saying,
    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.

    Apparently, employees, agents, shall I say, operatives of HTC broke into Apple's offices and stole ideas. Those dastardly bastards deserve to be sued!

     

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    Designerfx (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 2:03pm

    battle of the titans

    maybe it will take a high profile case where HTC doesn't buckle and says screw it we're taking you to the supremes, that it will get this turned around.

    Until then, all innovation continues to take a loss for being successful

     

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    Phillip (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 2:09pm

    hey nexus one whats up

    I was pretty sure I was going to switch to t-mobile to get away from AT&T network and apple's random app store decisions, but this seals it.

    I doubt I'll even wait for my contract to be over...

     

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      Designerfx (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 2:14pm

      Re: hey nexus one whats up

      if you do tmobile, be sure to sign up with freelancer's union (online, free). = 10% off of your monthly and enterprise deals on phone prices.

      PS: this bears mentioning. HTC controls a huge part of all electronics made worldwide. As much as panasonic, really.

      HTC could shut out apple from being able to make anything apple if they felt like it, so this is a bad bad apple move.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 2:29pm

    but the au seems to have won out

    To the point that I had never seen it spelled with only an "a" until this article

     

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    Steve Jobs, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 2:36pm

    Apple is for fascists

    .

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 2:41pm

    I think you're missing the real story

    Isn't the real story here that HTC is a phone that runs on Google's Android platform? The ITC complaint specifically mentions "Android." Is this the long-awaited Apple vs. Google black-hat vs. white-hat war? A shot across the bow, or Patentageddon?

     

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  •  
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    Richard, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 2:44pm

    Apple fan boys

    I've already heard the pro Apple drones going on about how Apple has no choice but to protect their IP from foreign interests. No wonder the citizens of the world are in so much trouble. They just do what their told and don't even know what questions to ask if they ever wanted to question the omnipotent wisdom of their respective dear leader.

    This sorta underscores the whole "the people need handlers" argument :(

     

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  •  
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    mjb5406 (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 2:50pm

    As reported by other sources, this seems like a preemptive strike against Google rather than against HTC. Right now, HTC is the single largest vendor of Android-based devices, so I guess it makes sense... but to paraphrase Steve Jobs, "Competition is great, unless we have competition". Another site posted the complaint, and some of the claims are just plain stupid, like claiming that there is an infringement over how you unlock a phone using a sliding button.

    Apple refused to use its cash reserves to give shareholders a dividend, so I guess Jobs decided to piss it away on lawyers and lawsuits instead. Yes, the iPhone is innovative, a great product, but using the courts to insure that nobody else can compete with you is childish.

     

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    •  
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      Alan Gerow (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 3:10pm

      Re:

      "the iPhone is innovative"

      Just to point out a difference (and not to assume you're unaware of it), the iPhone was innovative but not inventive. While Apple changed the way people use their phones, it didn't necessarily do anything to redefine what a phone is.

       

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        Michial Thompson, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 4:16pm

        Re: Re:

        What Apple did with the iPhone was really nothing spectacular, they EXPANDED one of their products (iPod) by adding basic cell phone functionality...

        The inventive aspect of what they did was combining three seperate and unrelated devices into one device.

        But even that could be argued because honestly the iPhones invention was destined to happen by someone. Combining the cell phone with the PDA and a music device, and a pager was destined to happen because every geek out there was running out of room on their belts and suspenders to dangle all these devices.

         

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          Allen (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 5:41pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Wow. I'm not sure where you live Michial but here in Hong Kong apple were far from the first to release a phone/pda/mp3 player combo and your most basic GSM handset had pager functionality much earlier than that.

          Apple were the first to release a phone with a multitouch interface, nothing more or less. They didnt invent it but innovation is in the execution right? And now they want to execute HTC...

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 7:07am

          Re: Re: Re:

          My T-mobile Dash (made by HTC, of course) did everything the iphone did and more, long before there WAS an iphone, with the exception of having a touch interface (it had a full keyboard and d-pad). Running Windows Mobile, it was a PDA, played music (and could even use .mp3's as ringtones, as well as supported stereo bluetooth/A2DP) and had built-in WiFi. Apple's version of a touch interface was great, but NOTHING on the iphone was groundbreaking.

           

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          setaside (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 8:04am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The inventive aspect of what they did was combining three seperate and unrelated devices into one device.

          Palm and ... Windows Mobile ... have been able to do what the iPhone does for far longer than the iPhone has been out. I'd hardly call apple inventive in this regard. What they did, and did well I will readily admit, was simplify the whole interface to the point that a MASSIVE number of users could pick one up and figure out how to use it. An evolution of an existing species to better adapt to the current climate.

           

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          Alan Gerow (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 2:44pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "The inventive aspect of what they did was combining three seperate and unrelated devices into one device."

          Taking three already invented technologies, and combining them into one is innovation.

          The iPhone did nothing specifically new. It just did it in an easier to use way.

           

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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 2:54pm

    It is just dealing with reality.

    Sorry to say it but in the U.S. it simply sue or be sued. Very sad state of affairs.

     

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    Richard Corsale (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 2:55pm

    Read this in a post by DaemonBlood over at ArsTechnica
    ------------------------------------------------
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK7TQV FS

    To quote Steve Jobs: "I've been shameless about stealing good ideas" and "They showed me really, three things, but I was so blinded by the first one that I didn't see the first two. One of the things they showed me was Object Oriented Programming".

    So first he steals the idea, then he patents it.. thats innovation for ya!

     

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    napacab (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 3:06pm

    How many lawyers does it take to invent something useful?

    There aren't enough of them.

     

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    ernestinis, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 3:27pm

    Nuclear Patent War

    These cases with Apple/Nokia/HTC.
    Will it become Great Patent Wall of USA for Electronics/Software. So that non Apple production will be available only in black market ?

    Or patents for software will be canceled in US ?

    How does it influence Europe ?
    Is it only civil war in US ?
    Or 1st Patent World War ?


    Any ideas ?

     

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    Dave (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 3:38pm

    Behind the lawsuit

    The more I look at this lawsuit, the more I think Apple is telling the world, "The Nexus One is better than the iPhone, and we can't compete with it, so we're going to make it more expensive for them to sell their product, rather than try to improve our own product."

    And that's when things start going downhill. IMHO, Apple would have been better off using its $40B cash reserves to get out of its exclusivity deal with AT&T and introducing CDMA/EVDO iPhones.

     

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      Brad Hubbard (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 4:08pm

      Re: Behind the lawsuit

      And that's really the heart of it, right? When Apple thought the iPhone was at the forefront of technology, they didn't bother with the "imitators". Now that they're watching their market evaporate as quickly as it built up, and at the same time unable to make the cap-ex investment to stay ahead without abandoning tens of millions of users, they're trying to stop other companies from getting ahead.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 3:41pm

    I can understand Apple's point

    After all, the invented cell phones, color displays, drag and drop use interfaces, operating systems, and the internet (contrary to the popular Al Gore misquote).

    They also invented mach kernel's, unix, and a GUI over top of it.

    Is there nothing people won't steal from Apple?

     

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    Nate, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 4:13pm

    I've only recently begun to dive into software programming, myself, but these patents all still read to me like, "A method for arranging words, such as to form sentences and a coherent storyline."

    There's a line, for sure, but most of these software patents make the plaintiff look petty, and I was actually beginning to thaw to the idea of purchasing a Mac or a new iPhone/iPad. I've actually been turned off to it, now.

     

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    Seumas Hyslop (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 5:10pm

    Abuse of patents - if they're that worried, why not go after Palm?

    This is one of those perfect examples of where the patent system is completely wrong - scientific and technological processes being patented.

    Examples of this include Chiron Corporation and the 100 patents that they own on the Hepatitis C Virus, as they were able to be the first to describe a novel method of isolating the virus. They've since been able to abuse this power in preventing other companies from researching into the virus, and at one time even prevented the UK National Health Service from buying a Hepatitis C testing kit from Murex Corporation, despite the fact that Chiron had not released their own testing kit. Essentially, they were preventing anyone getting tested for Hepatitis C. That's just abominable, and it's a corporation that kills people.

    Amazon's 1-click is another great example of patents gone horribly wrong.

    Now this - a look at Apple's patent filings include:

    • The '453 Patent, entitled "Conserving Power By Reducing Voltage Supplied To An Instruction-Processing Portion Of A Processor," was duly and legally issued on June 3, 2008 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the '453 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit H.

    • The '949 Patent, entitled "Touch Screen Device, Method, And Graphical User Interface For Determining Commands By Applying Heuristics," was duly and legally issued on January 20, 2009 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the '949 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit B.

    It's ridiculous. They're trying to own power management on mobile devices - and they're trying to prevent multitouch on other devices. Multitouch is functionality that's given to the HTC devices by Google/Open Handset Alliance and Android, not developed by HTC. Apple are trying to sue Google without suing Google - or try and scare others from joining the Open Handset Alliance.

    I note that they haven't sued Palm at all. Might have something to do with all those patents Palm has that could cause the iPhone a lot of problems, right?

    I'm finding this interesting, though. Something has Apple spooked about HTC and Android. They're feeling threatened.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 7:25pm

      Re: Abuse of patents - if they're that worried, why not go after Palm?

      WE can only hope that Palm it waiting to step in and give the finishing blow to Apple.

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 7:49pm

        Re: Re: Abuse of patents - if they're that worried, why not go after Palm?

        Apple
        Jobs
        Blow
        Palm

        I think there's a joke in there somewhere.

         

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    bigpicture, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 5:37pm

    Competitive Edge

    Many years ago I took a customer service course put on by IBM. The gist of the content was that in todays business environment it is not possible to maintain a competitive lead on business competitors, in product technology or pricing for any significant period of time.

    So the only way to distinguish your product from the competition was to "delight your customers" with the supporting services. There was nothing covered about suing the competition over patents by a company that holds probably the largest patent portfolio in the world. They also donated a lot of patents to the open source community of which Linux/Android is a member.

     

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    angry dude, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 7:45pm

    mudaki

    thoughtful comments...

    debily, blya

     

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    Joe Perry (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 7:49pm

    I already didn't like Apple, this just pushed it farther. Apple's just getting scared of the competition. It used to be a joke that no one could stand up to the iPhone, now people are and they don't want to compete. It's funny, because recently I've seen a lot of television shows and movies where the phones they're using are HTC phones that run Android. Apple's losing their hold on consumers and media. Plus some of the patents they hold are absolutely ridiculous and in no way promote progress, they only serve to limit functionality of other phones so that all the other phones are useless compared to the iPhone, enabling Apple to have a monopoly.

     

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    Jamie Carl (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 11:05pm

    I think it's funny that they are suing over the pinch zoom functionality that is a function of the Android OS, not the hardware, which is basically just a capacitive touch display. As someone has already said, they are trying to sue Google without suing Google. Probably because they know Google would probably eat them alive.

    Is the iPhone losing market share or something? ;)

    In the end, the lawyers win yet again.

     

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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 3:23am

    Apple - media hype innovator

    For once Mike Masnick has something right. Apple cannot keep up. They get lots of patents but for the most part they are pretty narrow. It is a fact that the most important inventions come from outside Apple.

    Apple being rather arrogant takes those inventions and combines them in their products, bagging about being innovators.

    I have tried and rejected a number of Apple products because they are crippled by design. Apple's greed and short term mindset makes their products inferior to others. HTC produces better phones than Apple.

    This is why Apple is a member of the Coalition for Patent Piracy & Fairness. They innovate with unauthorized use of others inventions but cannot themselves produce the really important inventions.

    What amazes me is how many people buy Apples innovative media propaganda.


    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Ismeal Karim, Apr 11th, 2010 @ 2:20am

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