Apple's HTC Complaint Now Under ITC Scrutiny
The International Trade Commission moved forwarded April 1 with Apple's
complaint that HTC smartphones violate
certain Apple patents. Apple filed its original complaint with the ITC March 2
while also seeking relief with the U.S. District Court in Delaware.
Apple ultimately wants the ITC and the court to halt the importation of the infringing HTC smartphones into the United States. The complaints center on HTC's Android operating system for many of its most popular phones. Apple claims the HTC products infringe 20 patents related to the iPhone's user interface and hardware.
Apple has been seeming reluctant to become engaged in patent infringement lawsuits involving the iPhone, but since Google introduced the Android operating system to become a potential competitor to Apple, the company's legal department has become far more active.
The company itself has also become increasingly under legal fire.
The ITC decided in January to investigate Nokia's complaint that Apple's mobile phones, computers and portable music players all infringe Nokia patents. Nokia cites seven of its patents that are now being used by Apple to create key features in Apple products in the area of user interface, as well as camera, antenna and power management technologies.
The ITS is investigating whether Apple is in violation of Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, which prohibits the importation of products that infringe the technology on others. Nokia is seeking a cease and desist order against Apple.
The ITC complaint follows a Nokia patent infringement lawsuit against Apple earlier this year and Apple's counter-lawsuit claiming Nokia is infringing its patents.
"Nokia has been the leading developer of many key technologies in small electronic devices," Paul Melin, Nokia's general manager of patent licensing, said in a Dec. 29, 2009, statement. "This action is about protecting the results of such pioneering development. While our litigation in Delaware is about Apple's attempt to free-ride on the back of Nokia investment in wireless standards, the ITC case filed today is about Apple's practice of building its business on Nokia's proprietary innovation."
In the Delaware infringement lawsuit, filed in October, Nokia claims Apple is infringing 10 Nokia patents related to technology making devices that are compatible with one or more of the GSM, UMTS (3G WCDMA) and wireless LAN standards. The patents cover wireless data, speech coding, security and encryption.
Nokia claims much of this intellectual property has been declared essential to industry standards and notes Nokia has already successfully entered into license agreements involving the technology with approximately 40 companies, including virtually all the leading mobile device vendors. Nokia began seeking royalties from Apple in May.
When Apple refused to negotiate a royalty agreement, Nokia filed its lawsuit. Apple replied in December in a countersuit claiming that Nokia is infringing 13 Apple patents.
"Other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours," Bruce Sewell, Apple's general counsel and senior vice president, said in a Dec. 11, 2009, statement.