HTC made another jab against Apple last week by amending its earlier counter lawsuit. Nine new patents have been cited in this latest complaint filed in the US International Trade Commission. Why is this news? The additional patents came from Google and were recently transferred to HTC in September 1. This essentially gives the second largest smartphone manufacturer in Asia more ammunition to fend off Apple Inc. More importantly, it looks like Google won’t be sitting in the sidelines of this patent war for long.
The first shot was fired by Apple in March 2010 when it sued HTC for no less than 20 patent infringements which according to Apple’s representatives were “related to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware.” Pundits have pointed out that despite Apple’s broad salvo, the specific HTC models frequently called to question were always Android phones.
HTC retaliated two months later with its own narrower claims of 5 infringements related to power management and phone dialers. In this latest counter by HTC, the issues are regarding methods to wirelessly upgrade software, transfer data between central processing and support chips, store user settings, and maintain connectivity between applications and radio modems.
Four of the nine patents in the new infringement claim originated from Motorola, three came from Openwave Systems, and two from Palm. These patents were transferred to Google by way of acquisition and then were later turned over to HTC. According to Google, the plan is to improve protection against intellectual property lawsuits by building up the company’s patent portfolio. Google’s $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility for example gained the company at least 17,000 new patents.
Apple and Google are yet to have a direct confrontation. Will Google’s recent and deliberate support of HTC accelerate what seems to be an impending clash?