"We are taking this action against Apple to protect our intellectual property, our industry partners, and most importantly our customers that use HTC phones." -HTC
HTC's smart phone success is a big part of why Google's Android OS recently passed Apple's iPhone in market share. Apple isn't exactly being gracious about its rival's success, though. It has sued HTC for the supposed violation of 20 patents, including patents that cover using a sliding finger to unlock a phone, using processor undervolting via interrupts, and object oriented graphics.
But HTC isn't about to bow to Apple's legal demands. And it's not about to relinquish its new lead.
Today the company filed countersuit, filing a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC), accusing Apple of violating 5 of its patents. It is seeking to block the importation of Apple's iPad, iPod, and iPhone from China -- the exact counterpoint of Apple's suit, which seeks to block the import of all HTC's Android handsets from Taiwan.
In a press release HTC's North American VP, Jason Mackenzie, writes, "As the innovator of the original Windows Mobile PocketPC Phone Edition in 2002 and the first Android smartphone in 2008, HTC believes the industry should be driven by healthy competition and innovation that offer consumers the best, most accessible mobile experiences possible. We are taking this action against Apple to protect our intellectual property, our industry partners, and most importantly our customers that use HTC phones."
The full complaint can be viewed here.
Looking briefly at a couple of the patents, one covers power management in smart phones/pdas, the next covers organizing a cell phone phonebook, and another covers a system of managing recent calls in memory and tying them to your phonebook. While HTC's claims at first glance seem no less tenuous than Apple's, it's important to note that HTC is merely using its IP portfolio defensively, while Apple is trying to use its IP library to kill a competitor that has recently bested it in sales.
Ultimately, Apple may have bitten off more than it can chew in trying to sink HTC, a company that was making PDAs five years before Apple released its first iPhone. The court battle will likely be fierce and expensive. And in the end chances are that neither company will see its requests to block importation granted.
However, the countersuit sends a clear message: HTC will not let itself be bullied. And it will not relinquish the success it has fought so hard for.
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