Apple has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against HTC, one of the primary manufacturers of smartphones that run Google Android. If Apple succeeds in what could be a protracted lawsuit, it could temporarily dampen the Android-equipped devices in the U.S. market at a time when some data shows Android enjoying an increasing rate of adoption among consumers. Apple has other lawsuits in play against Nokia, and is being sued by Kodak, over other patent-related issues.
Apple's patent-infringement lawsuit against HTC comes at a time when
Google Android, the smartphone operating system that will be incorporated into
many HTC devices through the end of 2010, has been gaining ground in the
ever-hotter smartphone wars.
According to data released by analytics
firm Quantcast March 1
, the iPhone claimed 63.7 percent of the mobile Web
consumption in North America in February, while Research In Motion's BlackBerry operating system
owned 9.2 percent and Android, 15.2 percent. However, that represents a monthly
decline for Apple of 3.2 percent, while Android climbed 8.3 percent and RIM
rose 13.8 percent.
While those percentages suggest that Apple
holds a comfortable lead, data showing increased adoption of Android would
support analyst reports from the past year suggesting that Google's operating
system will take an ever-larger share of the mobile market.
If Apple's lawsuit against HTC, filed with both the U.S.
District Court in Delaware and the U.S. International Trade Commission,
succeeds in hobbling the flow of HTC devices into the United
States-and if Apple files additional lawsuits against other manufacturers-the
potential exists for Android's adoption in the marketplace to be potentially
slowed, at least in the near term.
here for 10 Things Apple's HTC Lawsuit Tells Us About iPhone, Android
filed a lawsuit against HTC March 2,
alleging that the manufacturer violated
20 patents surrounding the iPhone's interface, architecture and hardware. In a
statement posted on his company's Website that day, Apple CEO Steve Jobs wrote:
"We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we
can do something about it."
Jobs added: "We think competition is
healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal
HTC unveiled several smartphones running Google Android during January's
Mobile World Congress, including the HTC Desire and HTC Legend. The company
already released the HTC Droid Eris in the fourth quarter of 2009, which leverages a full-size
touch screen for user interaction, alongside the Motorola Droid.
Apple is engaged in patent-infringement action
on a number fronts, having been locked since October 2009 in a legal
back-and-forth with Nokia over supposed violation of intellectual property.
Nokia had originally begun seeking royalties on its patents from Apple in May
2009, following that with legal action after Apple reportedly refused to
On top of that, Apple is involved in a
lawsuit with Kodak, which claims that both Apple and BlackBerry maker RIM
infringed on Kodak's patent for previewing images with their built-in camera
modules. Kodak filed two lawsuits over the issue in U.S. District Court for the
Western District of New York Jan. 16.
"Legal claims followed by multiple
counterclaims are commonplace, and they can drag out the legal process for some
time," Neil Mawston, an analyst with Strategy Analytics, told eWEEK in
January. "It seems Nokia and Apple have been unable to agree on licensing
terms in private over the past few months, so both firms have resorted to legal
action in public courts as a next step." Apple's battle against Nokia, not to mention its
long-running legal entanglement with Microsoft throughout the 1990s, suggests
that if the HTC lawsuit reaches the courtroom it could turn into a
long and drawn-out affair. To avoid such costly action, tech companies often
sign cross-licensing agreements; however, Apple's goals in this matter may not
be settled by an out-of-court settlement.