HTC strikes back in latest patent spat

Out-Law News | 14 May 2010 | 3:16 pm | 1 min. read

Device maker HTC has issued a patent counter-claim against Apple, alleging that the iPod, iPhone and iPad infringe patents held by it. The action is in reply to an Apple suit which claims that HTC is infringing Apple patents.

HTC has complained to the US International Trade Commission (ITC) and has asked it to stop Apple importing devices for sale in the US because they infringe five of its patents.

Earlier this year Apple sued HTC and filed its own ITC complaint claiming that HTC's devices infringe 20 of its patents. "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 Apple chief executive and co-founder Steve Jobs at the time.

HTC is a Taiwan-based maker of mobile phones and computing devices which, until recently, made products that were branded by other companies. It is increasingly launching devices under its own name.

It claims that patents it owns which cover mobile phone directory software and power management in devices are infringed by Apple's iconic mobile devices.

"[One patent] provides efficient power management by controlling how the smart phone switches among the various combinations of the operational modes of the PDA system and the mobile phone system," said HTC's claim.

HTC has asked the ITC to stop Apple importing and selling its devices.

"HTC seeks, as relief, a permanent exclusion order barring from entry into the United States all infringing portable electronic devices and related software imported by or on behalf of Apple," said its complaint. "HTC also seeks, as relief, a cease and desist order prohibiting Apple's sale for importation, importation, sale after importation, distribution, offer for sale, advertising, testing, loading with software, solicitation of sales, repair, technical support, and any other commercial activity related to the Accused Products that infringe one or more Asserted Claims of the Asserted Patents."

When sued by Apple, HTC said that it would defend itself against the claims. It said this week that taking action against Apple was vital if it was to protect its intellectual property.

"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,” said HTC's Jason Mackenzie. “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 mobile handset industry is the battleground for a number of patent disputes. Just this week Nokia filed a patent suit against Apple, its second this year. Competitor companies Research In Motion, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson are all currently involved in patent litigation.