The war of infringement: Apple vs HTC

In this great hullabaloo of rivals accusing each other of infringement of patents, one is only left confused seeing the who’s who in the arena of smartphones making a claim of the same victimization. A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by the government to the inventor in exchange for a public disclosure of the invention. The big question is, will this war really see the light of a consensus and settlement?

Earlier this year in March, Apple  filed a lawsuit against HTC for infringing 20 of its patents related to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware. The lawsuit was filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission(ITC) and concurrently in the US District Court in Delaware. Very truly it’s said that “competition is healthy, but the rivals should try and yearn to develop their own technology and not steal the existing”. This lawsuit; it’s said, is the next high profile litigation in the mobile phone business after Nokia and Apple attacking each other in past few months.

In this whole proceeding, one cannot acquiesce the accusations put by one on the other.  Interestingly, a drill done into Apple’s complaints by a few recognized websites reveals that only 10 out of the 20 patent infringements so claimed are core technicalities and rest are of typical software patent nonsense variety.

It’s pretty interesting that a few days earlier this month, Apple has played by adding more fuel to the fire to the already hot burning issue by expanding the suit and adding 2 more patents to the list. Both of these relate to a similar technology. Apple has demanded that HTC pays the damages and the legal fees and also wants a decree of injunction. The US ITC is currently investigating on the matter.

HTC has for obvious reasons been caught off-guard but HTC in a press release available on its website has defended itself by saying “HTC disagrees with Apple’s actions and will fully defend itself. HTC strongly advocates intellectual property protection and will continue to respect other innovators and their technologies as we have always done, but we will continue to embrace competition through our own innovation as a healthy way for consumers to get the best mobile experience possible.” HTC had retaliated by filing its own complaint (in May) with the ITC enumerating 5 HTC patents infringed by Apple products and has asked the commission to halt the importation of iPhone, iPad and iPod in the US in interest to protect HTC’s intellectual property, it’s Industry partners and the customers.

HTC however is yet to file any patent infringement lawsuit in a federal court which intrigues us to think whether HTC is just banking on ITC’s faster process to help solve the issue OR is it less sure of its patent claims and is just trying to avoid the harsh scrutiny of the courtroom? HTC shall answer this better.

Patent lawsuits emerging every now and then are inevitable in a highly dynamic industry like the mobile industry; so this litigation comes as a little surprise. Unless HTC vs. Apple ordeal is settled, one can expect it to be tied up for years to come. In fact, with HTC almost ready to adorn a product akin to iPad in its wide array of products, it seems this rivalry would only continue to advance.


Ritika Kharbanda/ITVoir Network