Apple goes for HTC's throat, sues for infringing 20 patents

Man – what a terrible way to wake up on a Tuesday morning. You roll out of bed, pop onto your favorite gadget blogs to catch up on all the latest news bits. New hardware coming next week.. some service is shutting down in a few months.. your company is being sued by Apple for infringing 20 patents… wait, what?

That’s what happened to HTC this morning, who only found out that the folks in Cupertino were dropping the lawsuit hammer when they saw the stories lighting up across the web. Apple had literally just filed all the papers when they sent out the press release.

Steve himself emerged from the Jobs-cave to put out a comment, and he had no nice words to say:

“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,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”

Engadget reached out to HTC for a response, who confirmed that they’d got wind of the suit by way of the Internet:

We only learned of Apple’s actions based on your stories and Apple’s press release. We have not been served yet so we are in no position to comment on the claims. We respect and value patent rights but we are committed to defending our own innovations. We have been innovating and patenting our own technology for 13 years.

The phones allegedly infringing on Apple’s intellectual property here are from all ends of the spectrum; from Android to Windows Mobile, from those running Sense/TouchFlo to those that are not. Name a popular phone made by HTC in the last 2 years, and it’s called out here: Nexus One, Touch Diamond, Touch Pro2, Imagio, G1.

Whether this is Apple’s goal or not (and I have a hard time imagining otherwise), this could do massive damage to Android’s momentum. HTC is and always has been the guiding hand that lead Android through some tough times — start throwing sticks in the Android machine that is HTC, and things will get tough for Google’s OS.

We’re tearing through this mountain of papers (seriously – it’s 700 pages thick) looking for details on exactly which patents HTC is allegedly tromping all over. With that said, I’d be willing to bet my finest pair of pants that HTC’s use of multitouch in there somewhere.

Update: Yep, looks like multitouch is in there. TechCrunch has torn through the documents and found a number of patents listed, including multitouch and a bunch of others.:

  • Patent No. 7,362,331: “Time-Based, Non-Constant Translation Of User Interface Objects Between States”
  • Patent No. 7,479,949: “Touch Screen Device, Method, And Graphical User Interface For Determining Commands By Applying Heuristics”
  • Patent No. 7,657,849: “Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image”
  • Patent No. 7,469,381: “List Scrolling And Document Translation, Scaling, And Rotation On A Touch-Screen Display”
  • Patent No. 5,920,726: “System And Method For Managing Power Conditions Within A Digital Camera Device.”
  • Patent No. 7,633,076: “Automated Response To And Sensing Of User Activity In Portable Devices”
  • Patent No. 5,848,105: “GMSK Signal Processors For Improved Communications Capacity And Quality”
  • Patent No. 7,383,453: “Conserving Power By Reducing Voltage Supplied To An Instruction-Processing Portion Of A Processor”
  • Patent No. 5,455,599: “Object-Oriented Graphic System”
  • Patent No. 6,424,354: “Object-Oriented Event Notification System With Listener Registration Of Both Interests And Methods”