Patents war continues as Apple sues HTC again

Jul 12, 2011
Venetia Rainey

Technology giant seeks to protect market share by challenging HTC over mobile and tablet devices

In yet another example of the patent war being waged between technology giants, Apple has filed a second lawsuit against smartphone manufacturer HTC which could potentially lead to the Taiwanese firm being banned from exporting its products to the US.

Apple has accused HTC of violating patents relating to software architecture and user interfaces in portable electronic devices, hardware for touch screens, and movement sensors. This is distinct from their first lawsuit, which only mentioned mobile communications devices, leading many to suggest that they are now targeting HTC's new tablet computer, the Flyer, which is seen as a serious rival to Apple's all-conquering iPad.

HTC - which makes its own smartphones such as the HTC Desire, as well as the Nexus One for Google - refuted the claims "vehemently". "HTC is dismayed that Apple has resorted to competition in the courts rather than the marketplace," said Grace Lei, HTC's general counsel.

Apple's first lawsuit against HTC was filed back in March 2010, when Steve Jobs, the company's CEO, said: "We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours." The verdict on that case is due in August.

HTC promptly filed a retaliatory lawsuit against California-based Apple in May last year, which was followed by Apple's creation of two more patents to add to the original 20.

The latest case is not likely to be concluded until late 2012, with a decision on HTC being barred from the US market to be considered later still.

Patent-infringement cases have become increasingly common. Apple is currently also embroiled in cases against technology companies Nokia, Motorola and Samsung as it seeks to fend off challenges to its market share. Once best known for its distinctive Mac computers, Apple now relies on the iPhone for nearly 50 percent of its sales and the iPad tablet for 12 percent.

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