ITC rules that HTC is violating two Apple patents, threatens all of Android

ITC rules that HTC is violating two Apple patents, threatens all of Android
In a legal victory for Apple, the International Trade Commission (ITC) has ruled that HTC is in fact infringing on two of the ten patent filings listed in a complaint by Apple. We call this a legal victory only because this case is far from done, and has a wide range of outcomes that could occur. In the worst case, these two infringements could lead to HTC being prohibited from importing phones to the US, and could provide more power for Apple as it moves forward in its case against Motorola which covers similar claims. However, it is also very likely that this will all come to nothing. 

Legally, Apple only needed a ruling in their favor on one patent infringement claim, but they have gotten two. This is just an "initial determination" and will require confirmation by a panel of six ITC members. As a worst case, if the panel upholds the ruling, HTC would be banned from importing Android phones to the US. However, Apple has also been found in violation of patents held by S3Graphics, a company which HTC is in the process of acquiring. So, Apple and HTC could ultimately come to a settlement that would not end in HTC being banned from US soil. 

The bigger problem is that the rulings in Apple's favor are in regards to technology that is central to Android. Patent expert Florian Mueller details the two patents, saying that one is for a "real-time signal processing system for serially transmitted data" and the other is regarding a system which recognizes and allows users to interact with on-screen information like addresses and phone numbers. Both of these processes are at the core of Android itself, and so could cause problems for any Android phone maker. 

HTC has already called out Apple, saying that the company should compete in the marketplace not in courtrooms. And, while we don't want to take sides in this battle, the US patent system as a whole seems to need a major overhaul if a company can get a patent regarding interacting with specific on-screen data like a phone number. It just doesn't seem like tapping on a phone number to launch a dialer should be something to start a lawsuit over.

This ruling does not effect the latest filing of Apple against HTC, which adds five more infringements to the list.

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177 Comments

1. AndroidOS

Posts: 100; Member since: Jun 21, 2011

The violations are going to be reviewed by a six-person commission before it's official. And HTC can still fight the ruling. So HTC still has a chance. Let's see what happens.

8. hepresearch unregistered

Apple is playing this very very well, and highly intelligently... the strategy is beginning to work, and after all it was only a matter of time and probability. When you start throwing enough crap around quickly enough, it will eventually stick to somebody.

27. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

while that is completely true, u forgot one side. you throw enough crap at someone, u better be made of teflon because people are going to start throwing crap back at you when they get hit. I will bet money if Apple takes it too far, google will step in the lawsuit ring and protect its OS which it hasnt really done so far. Concidering how blatantly apple is copying android in iOS5, they arent on the most solid ground to sling mud. dont wake the sleeping giant.

64. 530gemini

Posts: 2198; Member since: Sep 09, 2010

Who got awarded patents to touchscreen gestures on a capacitive screen again? You're delusional. Google copies a lot from Apple, not the other way around. Also, Apple is bigger than google, so please.

71. Violent M*f* unregistered

Dude ur an ass-hole...!!! Google copying iOS ?? for ur info Apple never even invented the touch screen..!!

79. iSheepHunter

Posts: 55; Member since: Jul 07, 2011

Google copies nothing from Apple that Apple didn't already copy from Nokia and got sued for. And what exactly did they steal from Apple again?

91. joseg81

Posts: 204; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

they stole they're customers. apple needs to stop f@#*in' crying and start competing for real. they need to get off their a$$es n overhaul their whole OS not just make it brighter n shinier to distract the idiots still using that tired a$$ OS.

93. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

If you can read the article there's two examples above. Here's more Pinch to zoom Kinetic scrolling Swiping gestures Etc etc

169. NeXoS

Posts: 292; Member since: May 03, 2011

How the hell did Apple get a patent on pinch to zoom? Jeff Han gave that to the world WAY BEFORE the iPhone!

171. Pirate Ninja unregistered

Not sure if the ITC knows that. You should email them and let them know.... You could be the savior that HTC needs.

172. Pirate Ninja unregistered

Not sure the ITC knows that. you should email them and let them know..... YOu could be the saavior that HTC needs and put Apple in its place.

103. mlhazan

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 16, 2011

@530gemini poor guy ! Do you have any idea about google?Google don't copy from apple.Before posting like this you must avoid using Google search engine,Youtube,Gmail.BlogSpot ...In a sence just stop using internet.IOS is not bad but It can not stand with Android.IOS needs iphone to survive.Android is for multi platform.Here is the main difference,Poor Steve Jobs had tough time to compete with Bill Gates since the beginning and could not win and now having rough time with Google.

104. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

gestures? ur acting like they invented all gestures. Next you will say because they have a patent on "pinch to zoom", all onscreen gestures belong to apple. Apple never copies from google huh? I wonder where that pull down notification bar, resizable widgets, and all sorts of other things in iOS5 came from. Did they invent that too and just forget to tell google when Android has been doing most of that since its beginning? Tell me oh wise swuami!

55. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Haha, like I posted earlier. Everyone was laughing at Apple saying things like "oh they're only suing because they're scared and don't know what to do" or "All of these suits are sad at best" but I told you guys not to be surprised if Apple is not blindly suing and actually has a case. Now matter how much you're anti-iPhone, Apple is not a stupid company just in case you guys haven't realized. And really, the only thing Google can sue Apple for is the notifications. Android isn't the first company to do over-the air updates and be PC-free. Apple can sue for spell-check, the magnifiying glass that a lot of Android devices are now using, PINCH-ZOOM (that's a really big one), visual voicemail, similar designs (they're doing that already), peer-to-peer bluetooth gaming, the proximity sensor, accelerometer on a phone, first gyro-scope on a phone, etc etc etc. Android is just one big clone of iPhone and its about time starts protecting their OS and innovations. What has Android innovated/created that Apple has ripped? But hey, I'm an iPhone user so I realize that I'm probably biased. So other than pull-down for notifications, what has Apple copied from Android? (just so we can have a list and stop talking so subjectively). Make sure you point out things that Android actually invented/innovated and also that you realize that things like processors, megapixels, and LTE aren't Android innovations.

65. 530gemini

Posts: 2198; Member since: Sep 09, 2010

Google can't sue Apple on the notification tray pull down. Even when google implemented it on notifications on android OS before iOS5, Apple already had that feature in iOS SDK way back then, and it's already been on several iOS apps since 2007. Apple has the right to use that gesture to display notifications. And the iphone's notification tray is customizable, android's not, which would make the iphone's notification tray look different and implemented differently as well. So let google try to sue Apple, that way the truth will be revealee that Apple actually had it before google :)

80. iSheepHunter

Posts: 55; Member since: Jul 07, 2011

iOS SDK was released in 2007, not before Android was created. "And the iphone's notification tray is customizable, android's not, which would make the iphone's notification tray look different and implemented differently as well" Please remeber that statement you just said. So becase you can customize it( you can customize Android's tray too if you have a diferent launcher), it's completely different even though they look similar. So you can't say Android copied from iOS because "Android is more customizable, Apple is waay less, which would make it look different and implemented differently as well" You're a hypocrite of the highest level. tsk tsk

84. iSheepHunter

Posts: 55; Member since: Jul 07, 2011

If you're going to try to stereotype Fandroids at least do it right. I rarely hear any of us posting about what Apple stole from Android. Most of the posts are about the many features Apple stole from other operating systems, and yes, there are alot. 1. ios 5 notifications-android/web os/samsung touchwiz(slide to notifcations such as miss calls and messages from lockscreen 2 ios 5 quick camera access from lockscreen- copied from wp7 3 ios 5 volume shutter button- camera+ had this last year on their app but apple made them remove it because it was a private api and appl also said that it would confuse the users 4. iCloud symbol- stolen from devolper 5 iBooks copyright- in process of being sued for that 6 blackberry messanger (You can send texts, photos, videos, contact cards, and even engage in group messages. It displays delivery receipts, read receipts, and shows when others are typing. It's pushed to all devices and is supported by both 3G and wifi) should I continue? -Apple has been sued my Xerox for the alto GUI -Elan Microelectronics- multitouch patent -getting sued for S3 graphics -emblaze sued them for a media tracking patent -minerva too They even thought they were gonna get away with stealing from NOKIA. Are they serious? NOKIA? FAIL. Every company copies, I've come to terms with this.But copying is different from completely ripping off an idea and calling it yours and then not wanting to pay royalties If you think for a second that a company is perfect and doesn't copy, that some of their ideas aren't at least inspired by other companies and that everything they use in a phone is completely original (some are) YOU ARE A BLIND SHEEP

105. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

well said. they stole so much from nokia, nokia got a fat settlement check and gets royalties from every iphone sold. So does MS. yup, thats 100% originality right there.

111. lollipop

Posts: 43; Member since: Feb 15, 2011

You do realize why Apple must pay royalties to Nokia? Nokia holds a patent on "A phone that uses 2G (GSM), 3G(UMTS), and WI-FI.". Every manufacturer on the PLANET that makes a phone for GSM networks cannot avoid that Patent. I find it hard to believe anyone could be "original" under that context. I guess for a moron like you Apple would have had to make a GSM phone that used neither a GSM radio nor a Wifi chipset..... Oh wait they did its called an iPod Touch and the iPhone 4 CDMA (nokia holds ZERO CDMA patents.").

110. lollipop

Posts: 43; Member since: Feb 15, 2011

You are equally blind aswell. early Android was designed to be more inline with Blackberry OS but upon the success of the iPhone Google restructured Android. Now, if you want to go on about what Apple stole then why not bring up what Android stole from Microsoft and how Gate's company is making royalties (That Manufacturers not google pay) off of every HTC and Samsung device and soon Motorola. The biggest part of what was stolen that the iPhone created was a non carrier Application Store. The Apple was the only manufacturer to make their own phone that was completely divorced itself from the Brew-based market places forced by carriers. Now look at how Android phones, Windows phones, and even WebOS based phones all took this idea and ran with it. Before the iPhone app store most smartphones had to go to places like Handango and load apps through Mobile Browsers. Either way the whole "this was stolen" BS is just that BS. BBM was just a reconfigured Instant messenger application that allowed Blackberry customers to avoid Texting charges by sending IMs to other Blackberries over a data network. You can't steal what has also been replicated OVER AND OVER by multiple third party Application vendors since 2007.... I suggest you look up PING which was a third party "BBM" style IM service.

146. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

I love how I was talking specifically about Android and you completely spun my post around to include every single company and then call me a blind sheep. And a lot of people (not all) are talking about Android and not what Apple used from other companies and saying things like "I will bet money if Apple takes it too far, google will step in the lawsuit ring and protect its OS which it hasnt really done so far". And if Apple has been sued by so many companies, why is it bad for Apple to sue others? it sounds like you're the sheep. and how did Apple copy Windows with the camera access? In Windows, your screen can be off and all you have to do is hold down camera button. In iPhone, your screen has to be lit, you double tap the home button, a camera icon appears on the screen and finally it takes you to camera. How is that the same?!?!? The destination is the same but the method in doing it so different.

2. luis_lopez_351

Posts: 951; Member since: Nov 18, 2010

Wow if HTC gets banned from US soil then Google(Android) and Microsoft(WP7/.5) are going to be all over this.

12. hepresearch unregistered

IF HTC gets banned, all of Android will be in great danger. This is the key to Apple's "nuclear option" against Google... if it goes through, iOS will have Android hooked by the nostrils... next, Samsung will get slammed, and then after the other OEM's retreat, Google's mobile OS division will take it straight in the face.

37. Rejeimha

Posts: 18; Member since: Jul 29, 2010

"...after the other OEM's retreat..." I highly doubt that any of the other OEMs are going to retreat. If anything they are going to join together with Google and push back at Apple. Either way, the legal representatives will walk away laughing all the way to the bank, while the end consumer gets to enjoy the next top of the line smartphones with either OS for $400 on contract in order to pay for it all.

73. hepresearch unregistered

Agree with you on the "either way" comment. The attorneys are the only real winners this time. Handset prices, over time, will necessarily go up to pay for all the litigation insanity... +1...

113. lollipop

Posts: 43; Member since: Feb 15, 2011

Dude if Android got banned the Manufacturers would just abandon the platform for another Alternative. There is no "OMG ANDROID MANUFACTURER ALLIANCE!".... Android is merely used because it is a free OS they can use without having to do R&D into making there own OS. If Android vanished because of Apple they would just all hop on Window's Phone 7 en mass. Really who is hurting Android the most is MS because they are forcing manufacturers to pay royalties per each Android handset sold and Google is doing nothing to help them.

66. 530gemini

Posts: 2198; Member since: Sep 09, 2010

It's unlikely that those android devices will be banned. But they will definitely have to pay Apple for using Apple's patented IP's. Requesting for a ban when filing an infringment case is pretty much standard every time a case is filed.

92. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

I think that if anything is learned here, is that the USPTO is greatly fragmented in granting patents and Trademarks. Science and Technology today is so accelerated in expediting to the next level, that it is weighing heavy burdon on the office to push through any patents. I would be willing to wager that half or more of these scientific and technological patent and trademark requests are not even read thoroughly, or even at all by the office personnel reviewing them. Who has the time? There are literally thousands of applications filed daily for patents alone. Since Apple has been patent and trademark hungry lately, they have somewhat taken advantage of this and benefited by the overworked and antiquated department. Broad generalization patents now become more prevalent while actually overlapping other patents. If we all look at this logically, in the few short years that touch screens,UIs, operating systems etc, have advanced so rapidly, it shouldn't surprise us that it comes to this. Apple celebrates by high fiving themselves with this victory all while stealing from other's R&D at a time when the office is bogged down with stacks of backlogged material. Not to discredit Apple however, as other manufactures are more less doing the same. This makes a mockery of our patent and trademark office proceedures. Pathetic! John B.

83. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

I agree with Gemini on this one. As Microsoft uses it's patents as a cash cow, so Apple will against these IF they hold up. I do not think either the trade commision or Apple want Google gone- just want their patents honored. I did feel once you took your preference out of the equation, Apple had a case. Yes, Apple may have taken ideas from other systems for their OS, but that didn't have any bearing in these precedings. However, I worry about the far reaching effect on Google- at what point does the free OS stop being free? If HTC, Samsung, Motorola and a host of others have to pay left and right for using Droid OS, and jump through legal hoops, is it cost effective to keep using it? If Droid only gets popped for infringement in the States due to Microsoft and Apple, will we in the U.S. suffer for it with a lack of choice? It is kinda crap that the rest of the world is enjoying the Samsung GS2 and we are not. I do not want to see that as the rule as opposed to the exception.

106. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

we aren't enjoying the SGS2 because the US carriers are holding up its launch with their demands for what should be on the phone, design changes, ect. That has nothing to do with the apple-samsung lawsuit. Samsung just needs to make a universal SGS2 thats capable of any network and sell it unlocked until the carriers give in.

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