Mobile-manufacturer HTC has bought patents from Google to sue Apple in a new infringement case
The nine patents, which Google itself bought from Motorola, Palm and other companies less than a year ago, concern Google’s Android operating system. In a sign both that Google is unwilling to sue Apple directly and also that the ‘patent wars’ between major manufacturers are further hotting up, HTC has now filed claims against Apple, while also itself being sued by the iPhone maker.
Florian Mueller, of the blog Foss Patents, wrote that Google knows that HTC is under tremendous legal pressure from Apple and clearly on the losing track.
HTC is the first Android device maker sued by Apple, so that dispute is at the most advanced stage, and since HTC's own patent portfolio is weak, it has so far lacked the leverage to force Apple into a cross-license agreement.
“The possibility of HTC being defeated must have scared Google,” he said.
He added that “another motivation for Google is probably to demonstrate some support to third-party Android device makers even though it's clear those won't be able to compete with a Google-owned Motorola Mobility on a playing field if the deal goes through.”
Bloomberg reports that HTC sued Apple yesterday in court and filed a complaint at the US International Trade Commission.
The firm alleges infringement of the patents obtained from Google.
Both HTC and Google have declined to say how much the patents in question, which relate to wireless upgrades, contacts and interfaces, have cost to transfer.
Google spent $12.5bn to buy Motorola Mobility, and acquire the firms 17,000 patents, earlier this year.
“HTC will continue to protect its patented inventions against infringement from Apple until such infringement stops,” said HTC General Counsel Grace Lei.
“We believe that we have an obligation to protect our business, our industry partners and our customers, who love using our products.”
Steve Jobs has previously been quoted as saying Apple thinks “”competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours”.