Apple’s Relations… Soured Again
Posted by Cyndi Lundeberg on March 8, 2010 in Business Technology, Patents and Trademarks [ 1 Comment ]
When the iPhone was released in 2007 it set the bar for all technological advancements, specifically in the area of cell phones. Cell phone manufacturers scrambled to assemble competitive iPhone alternatives, and Apple claimed they were copying their product. In previous years we have witnessed Apple battle Nokia and Palm phone systems over their developments, but it seems Apple is no longer willing to sit on the sidelines and play nice.
Apple began the company’s latest battle just recently with some sharp words aimed at High Tech Computer Corporation, or more commonly known HTC. Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs uncharacteristically spoke out about the allegations saying “other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours.” Apple’s lawsuit filed at the District Court was an astounding 700 pages, detailing product infringement on patents ranging from 1995 to February 2010.
Apple’s lawsuit mentions the Nexus One, Touch Pro, Touch Diamond, Touch Pro2, Tilt II, Pure, Imagio, Dream/G1, myTouch 3G, Hero, HD2, and Doid Eris as all infringing on Apple’s copyrighted patents. Even though Apple is not going up against just one phone system, they are specifically after Google’s Android system.
Apple is attacking HTC for developing products that Apple feels imitate the iPhone on 20 different patent breaches. While the patents are technological and difficult to dissect, Apple stated its accusations in a nutshell are “related to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture, and hardware.” The touch screen is one of the patents Apple feels was infringed upon, which leads to a multitude of other patent breaches. For example, because Apple has a patent in regards to the touch screen, its accusing HTC of mimicking the iPhone’s scroll behavior on the screen, and the iPhone’s patented screen unlocking feature that works by moving an unlock image.
Engaget (the electronic website where HTC first learned of Apple’s lawsuit against them) commented that one patent in particular poses a huge problem for Google. The patent violated is known as “ object oriented event notification system with listener registration of both interests and methods.” For those of us illiterate in technological jargon, it basically refers to the context sensitive on the screen menu. Even if this still makes no sense, the important point is this patent of Apple’s that was violated thoroughly defines “what the Android UI is.”
Apple’s backlash seems to have been an issue brewing within the company for sometime. It is easy for Apple to take legal action against the iPhone’s competitors when statements like, “[i]f there is something good in the world, we copy with pride”, are being made by competitors.
Nilay Patel, a journalist for Engaget, stated that “true to this quote, Nokia has demonstrated its willingness to copy Apple’s iPhone ideas as well as Apple’s basic computing technologies, all while demanding Apple pay for access to Nokia’s purported standards essential patent.” What finally motivated Apple to take action is an anomaly as perplexing as why the company opted to wait years before legally addressing the situation.
The outcome of these two super powers seems to be mounting with belittling statements being released from both corners. The ability to verify Apple’s patents may, unfortunately for the company prove impossible, but is shedding light on the fact that the United States patent system needs to be updated. While the outcome of this lawsuit is still undetermined one thing seems absolutely certain, Apple is aiming its attack specifically at HTC, “and [they’ve] organized its attack very carefully: it’s gone before the ITC with a collection of older patents on very deep OS-level functionality, which traditionally would be considered stronger patents.”
If Apple pulls this off, “the courts have the ability to stop HTC from selling devices and issuing fines,” which could translate to millions of dollars in payments to Apple. While we wait to see how the courts plan to handle navigating through some of the 15 year old patents, the world waits to see how Google will respond.