On Tuesday, Apple filed suit
against HTC, the world's largest manufacturer of Android phones. Apple
says the Android phones, which include Google's Nexus One, violate 20
of its patents--an important one being the iPhone's multi-touch
functionality. The move is being seen as an aggressive attempt to wipe out
Android phones from the marketplace or at least collect major royalties from
smartphone manufacturers. Could Apple succeed at this? Industry
analysts and patent lawyers are split.
- Apple Wants to Wipe Out the Android, writes Erick Schonfeld
at TechCrunch: "The actual legal complaints... make no bones about
it ... The complaint filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission
specifically calls out the various HTC Android phones (including the
Nexus One, Magic/myTouch 3G, Dream/G1, Hero, and Droid Eris) as the
main offending products. By going after the biggest Android
manufacturer, Apple is putting all Android cell phone makers--and by
extension Google-- on notice ... The battle lines are now drawn." Kevin
Rivette, a patent lawyer and former vice president for intellectual
property at IBM, agrees:
is island-hopping, attacking first the Asian companies. Then it can go
after Motorola, gradually whittling away at Google's base. They want to
break the Android tsunami.
- And Apple's Suit Could Succeed Neil Hughes at Apple Insider cites industry analyst Charlie Wolf who wrote a note to investors with Needham & Company on Wednesday:
believes Apple has a good chance to win its suit against HTC. A victory
could result in patent violators being forced to change the user
interface on their devices, or be forced to not sell their phones in
"Apple invested heavily and imaginatively in designing
a unique, disruptive smartphone," Wolf wrote. "In our view, the company
has every right to protect the iPhone's unique features."
- No, It's Likely to Fail, counters Nick Bilton
at The New York Times: "A ruling that would call on HTC to kill the
whole phone does seem highly unlikely, especially given the prominence
of the companies involved ... Many lawyers I spoke with believe this
case will end up being settled out of court before it goes that far."
He cites Stephen Lieb, an intellectual property lawyer at Frommer
Lawrence & Haug, who said "courts had recently moved away from these
kinds of injunctions. Now... they take into account the effect of
banning a service or product
on the marketplace, and on the public interest."
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