Apple Sues HTC, Claiming 20 Patent Infringements

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Apple has lashed out at HTC with a lawsuit alleging 20 different patent infringements related to the iPhone's user interface, underlying architecture and hardware. The violated patents center on touch and gesture features, including finger-swipe unlocking mechanisms, power conservation, touch-screen scrolling, and accelerometer capabilities. Apple seeks to ban the sale of HTC phones running Google's Android operating system as it allegedly copies iPhone functionality. Windows Mobile is also accused of stealing iPhone hardware decoders.

HTC manufactures the most popular Android handsets, including the first G1 and the Nexus One. Other phones singled out in the suit are the Touch Pro, Touch Diamond, Touch Pro2, Tilt II, Pure, Imagio, Dream, myTough 3G, Hero, HD2 and Droid Eris. According to Apple, HTC has repeatedly cribbed from the iPhone design.

"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," Apple's CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement.

The lawsuit was filed with the US International Trade Commission and the US District Court in Delaware.

"HTC values patent rights and their enforcement but is also committed to defending its own technology innovations. Until we have had this opportunity, we are unable to comment on the validity of the claims being made against HTC," an HTC spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times.

Microsoft declined to comment.

You can check out the full Apple complaint here. A few of the specific patent infringements:

  • Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image
  • System And Method For Managing Power Conditions Within A Digital Camera Device
  • Automated Response To And Sensing Of User Activity In Portable Devices

So what's Apple seeking? "A permanent injunction, which would bar HTC from importing or selling phones here that use these patents, along with triple damages with maximum interest." That last part means a big bail of cash; Apple is clearly not messing around.

Some industry experts believe the suit is an indirect shot at Google, whose Android OS does indeed use multitouch liberally.

If all this sounds familiar, it is. Last year Apple sued Nokia for similar reasons. Apple COO Tim Cook made a statement that is pretty much a replica of Jobs': "We're very, very comfortable with where we are competitively…we like competition, as long as they don't rip off our [intellectual property]…and if they do, we'll go after them." There were also grumblings about Apple suing Palm that haven't yet come to fruition.

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