A Small Victory for iPhone; HTC Not Worried

by: Christine TorralbaDecember 22, 2011
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If you’re keeping a close eye on the updates on the ongoing Apple infringement cases, you’ll agree that it really has a lot on its plate. Recently though, the US International Trade Commission gave a ruling that an Apple patent was violated by HTC. This, however, does not have a huge impact on the business of the Android maker whereas with Apple, this could turn into a bloody mess.

The ruling was made after Apple Inc. finally persuaded federal authorities to prohibit the US sales of some unlawful Android phones that had features similar to the iPhone. Considering there are so many different varieties of Android tablets and smartphones alike, the chances of them disappearing from market shelves won’t be happening anytime soon.

That said, the ruling made from the governing body was actually pre-anticipated. With regards to its ongoing legal battles with Motorola Mobility, Samsung Electronics, and HTC Corp; this was actually among the most anticipated developments of the case.

Currently, Apple is facing dozens of lawsuits throughout the world. Their efforts are being extended so they can prevent their rival companies from selling smartphones that mindlessly ‘copied’ features of the bestselling iPhone. The target of these lawsuits range from the more sophisticated technologies in which phones are able to function, including some key mechanisms which control the sending and receiving of data, to the more simple features such as the display of emoticons on a screen.

With this case however, the grounds of Apple’s victory over HTC was purely based on the technology that covered a close similarity to how smiley-faces were operated. Thus, stating that the Taiwanese manufacturer was infringing a single Apple patent which covered how addresses and phone numbers were displayed in email messages. The function allowed a user to initiate a call by simply taping on the number found on an email. This, unfortunately, was a patent Apple owned for 15 years already.

When asked how this suit will affect Android, Bijal V. Vakil, an intellectual property attorney from White & Case answered:

‘I don’t see this is a big deal… It’s going to make Apple feel better, but it’s just one independent case.’

Mr. Vakil is in no way involved in the case.

As for the other party involved, HTC only expressed a lack of concern saying that this feature was just a small portion of their undivided user experience. They will also be removing the function from their phones to abide by the April 2012 deadline set by the trade commission.

Despite the fact that Apple is a highly popular and profitable product, it has witnessed the birth of more Androids taking over the smartphone scene. During the last quarter, sales of the Android doubled to almost 53% compared to its 25% sales last year.  Comparing this to iPhone’s steady 15% sales each quarter, Apple certainly has reason to worry.

What do you think? Do Android manufacturers have to worry about Apple winning on this particular case?


[Source: Mercury News]

  • Anonymous

    Too bad Apple can’t innovate. They just keep making products for sheep, and filing lawsuits. Much easier than innovating!

  • Graham Laight

    If you download a free text editor that can do regular expressions (e.g. Notepad++), then you can take a document in a markup language (e.g. HTML) and you can use a simple email regular expression (search the web for “email regular expression” if you don’t know how simple these are) to find email addresses, and use the replace facility to wrap them in email tags. The Apple court submission itself uses the phrase “regular expression” – see fosspatents.blogspot.com/2011/07/these-tables-show-how-android-infringes.html – and most web languages (e.g. Java, C++ etc) have regular expression libraries.

    I am DISGUSTED with Apple. They should be ASHAMED of themselves for patenting this. As for the idiot that awarded the patent – they should be given some VERY STRONG negative feedback!!!

    Apologies for venting spleen here – I will understand if this post gets moderated – but it is difficult to express how angry I am about this patent!

    • AppleFUD

      You are bang on!

      Patent Offices do not understand software at all especially enough to give a patent for an idea that is implemented via software. The only software that should be patentable is a language and really a copyright is enough for that.

      It’s the software language + hardware that allow for an idea, an idea and nothing more than an idea, to take place on a computer. A hyperlink is nothing more than the idea of a pointer or sign–it points toward a new destination no different than a map or a sign post of old–the idea should not be pattentable.

      Therefore, if patents are to be awarded for software then they should be awarded for the software language and if then to be awarded for an implementation of an idea to take place is must be specific to that language–html & JavaScript can both create hyperlinks though they do it differently and a patent for one should not cover the other.

      Apple has been throwing patents at the wall since they ripped of Xerox and MS ripped both of them off. They will continue to do it until patent offices get a frickin CLUE!

      Right now governments don’t care, patent offices are cash cows for them and they figure lawyers can make a buck figuring out if the patents are valid or not.

      Thus far, all of apple & microsoft’s attempts toward Android have been a miserable failure. About 90% of the patents they claim Android infringed on thus far have been tossed and only a few items of the infringing patents have been upheld–stuff that looks to be easily worked around.

      We will see what type of workaround HTC & Google have for this apple patent–if it really covers interactive links they way some are claiming then that is utter BS–it should be a FRAND patent as it would be necessary to interact with your device without pulling your hair out.

      And finally, none of us should forget that Apple & MS built their companies by stealing software ideas from other companies at a time when software patents were generally NOT awarded–now they get to use software patents as clubs. BS!!! Companies today should have the same level playing field that apple & ms had!

  • GeeBird

    As much as A-Pull has been trolling the courts, they were bound to eventually get an A-Pull fanboy judge who would support a ridiculous patent claim. In fairness, the problem isn’t with the judges trying to interpret whether there is a violation. The problem is that the Office of Patents and Copyrights didn’t properly evaluate the filings. If they had, most of these patents and copyrights would have been rejected as common usage or not unique and original. I have confidence it will all work out in the end and A-Pull has just rigidified those who were predisposed against it. I’ll never say never, but I can’t see myself ever buying an A-Pull product after this anticompetitive strategy by the fruit company.

  • Anonymous

    Apple, what a downfall of once brave.

  • HTC does not need to worry about those bitches.