Will Apple target Google next in HTC Android patent war?

HTC this morning denied Apple’s accusations the company has infringed iPhone patents following receipt of legal action.

“HTC is not only an innovator in mobile technology but also an owner of many patents. We take American and international patent rights protection seriously,” it said in a statement posted on the Taiwan Stock Exchange website.

“We will closely cooperate with US justice system in the case to protect our own innovative values and rights.”

Apple accused HTC of infringing on 20 Apple patents related to the “user interface, underlying architecture and hardware” of the iPhone in a filing with the US courts yesterday.

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

NB: Apple has also filed to block imports of HTC phones with the US International Trade Commission. PC magazine lists the phones and patents, while All Things D has the actual court filings, and TechCrunch has both. CNET summarizes HTC’s oral response.

The ITC complaint lists both Android phones (Droid Eris, Google (GOOG) Nexus One, the Dream/T-Mobile G1) and others (HTC Touch Pro, the Touch Diamond, the Touch Pro2, HTC Tilt II, HTC Pure, HTC Pure, and HTC Imagio.) Nearly all of the accusations are against the Android phones.

Google’ response is interesting, the search giant and all-new Apple competitor told TechCrunch, “We are not a party to this lawsuit. However, we stand behind our Android operating system and the partners who have helped us to develop it.”

Google – which makes the OS for all those Android-powered HTC phones mentioned in Apple’s lawsuit – isn’t yet in Apple legal’s sights, but action may not be so far away. One month ago, Google enabled multi-touch support on Android devices. Now Apple is suing the maker of devices containing such tech. Will Apple take on Google over these patents if it prevails against HTC?

Seeking Alpha notes, “The problem today is that Apple’s patents are mainly in UI, which are a small part of a complex portable network-connected multifunction device. In my study with Rudi Bekkers, we found that there’s a thicket of 3G patents out there, including held by four of Apple’s largest handset rivals. Among UMTS patent holders, Nokia (NOK) and Ericsson (ERIC) were the top two with more than 240 each, while Samsung (SSNLF.PK) and Motorola (MOT) were 5th and 6th more than 50 each. (HTC didn’t even have a single one as of 2005.)”

Stephen Lieb, an intellectual property lawyer at Frommer Lawrence & Haug told the New York Times, “Courts are going to be very careful about crafting an injunction here,” Mr. Lieb said, “but before we even see this happen, it’s pretty likely that HTC, or even Google, will file a countersuit.”

Finally, to draw your attention to the very comprehensive Engadget listing of Apple’s patent accusations against HTC.

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4 thoughts on “Will Apple target Google next in HTC Android patent war?

  1. Pingback: Distorted-Loop.com » Blog Archive » Android web consumption up 95.3%, iPhone shrinks – Quantcast

  2. Veronika Skanes

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  3. Droid Eris

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