RePosted from Wall Street Journal: Apple Sues HTC

Apple who is involved  in a patent dispute with cellphone company Nokia Corp. is now suing another manufacturer over patent infringements.

Apple Inc. launched a legal broadside against a key Google Inc. partner in the cellphone market, the latest sign of the escalating tensions between the two Silicon Valley companies.

Apple alleged numerous patent violations in lawsuits against HTC Corp., a Taiwan-based manufacturer of smart phones. HTC makes several phones that run Google’s Android operating system, including the Nexus One phone that Google is selling directly to consumers.

Apple’s two complaints—filed Tuesday in federal court in Delaware and the U.S. International Trade Commission—allege HTC devices, including the Nexus One, infringe a total of 20 Apple patents. The complaints claim the patents cover an array of cellphone technologies, everything from power-management functions to a method of unlocking a handset with a finger swipe on a touch screen.

“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,” Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said in a prepared statement. “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”

An HTC spokesman said the company is still reviewing the complaints. “HTC values patent rights and their enforcement but is also committed to defending its own technology innovations,” said spokesman Keith Novak.

A Google spokeswoman said that, while the company was not a party in the lawsuit, the company “stands behind our Android operating system and the partners who have helped us to develop it.” Apple declined to comment on whether the suit was aimed at Google.

Apple’s share of global smart-phone shipments surged to 14.4% last year from nothing when it entered the market almost three years ago, according to research firm IDC. HTC, which makes smart phones that run both Android and software from Microsoft Corp., accounted for 4.6% of the market in 2009, IDC said.

The Android technology is open source, meaning other companies are free to use and modify it, but Google works closely with handset makers like HTC to help them customize it for their devices and was closely involved in the development of the Nexus One.

While Google and other Android manufacturers weren’t named as a defendants in Apple’s suits, the legal challenges could be a way for Apple to rattle handset makers that are considering using the software, lawyers said.

HTC Chief Financial Officer Hui-Ming Cheng said Wednesday it is too early to say whether the Apple allegations will have a material impact on the company’s operations. “Our legal counsel is still studying the matter, and we’re still trying to understand the details of the case,” Mr. Cheng said. He confirmed that Apple has accused HTC of violating 20 patents in total, but declined to say which of its handset models use these patents.

While HTC also makes phones based on an operating system from Microsoft, several models of which are named in Apple’s ITC complaint, the lawsuits emphasize alleged violations by HTC’s Android phones. Those include high-profile models like Droid Eris, sold through Verizon Wireless.

The complaint with the ITC, a trade body, seeks to block imports of HTC devices made with the contested technology. Such disputes are increasingly common among technology companies and can take more than a year to resolve.

Apple Sues HTC, the Maker of Google’s Nexus One Phone –

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