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.

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Companies: apple, htc

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Comments on “Apple Goes Offensive On Patents: Sues HTC”

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Ryan says:

Re: Re: My gloves are faster...


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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

cake says:

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.

Bazooka Balls says:


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?


Derek Kerton (profile) says:

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.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

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!

Designerfx (profile) says:

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.

Richard says:

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 🙁

mjb5406 (profile) says:

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.

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

Re: 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.

Allen (profile) says:

Re: 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…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

setaside (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Richard Corsale (profile) says:

Read this in a post by DaemonBlood over at ArsTechnica

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!

Dave (profile) says:

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.

Brad Hubbard (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

Un (profile) says:

Re: Re: I can understand Apple's point

Nope, mouse goes to Stanford University’s research institute. Doug Englebart to be specific. Actually most of the items in #28 were also SRI and Xerox PARC. I think you’d enjoy this read (the book, not the tiny stub article):

For the most part, we have hallucinogens to thank for much of the work in graphical user interfaces.

Nate says:

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.

Seumas Hyslop (profile) says:

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.

bigpicture says:

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.

Joe Perry (profile) says:

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.

Jamie Carl (profile) says:

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.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

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.
President – – RJR at
Executive Director – – RJR at
Senior Fellow –
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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