Apple VS HTC On Patent Infringement: Google Backs HTC
On March 2nd 2010, Apple filed a suit against mobile phone maker HTC for patent infringement. HTC, who notably supports Android and the Google Nexus One is fighting back. What’s more, Google is backing HTC. Is this just another court-spat between companies, or the start of the oncoming mobile wars and Steve Jobs’ increasing hostility towards Google…?
The official document is on Apple’s site, and it contains a very official quote from Mr. Jobs:
“We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it…we think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”
And what exactly has been stolen? Apple says it’s “20 Apple patents related to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware.” Those are some big accusations. The Internet is a buzz with the idea that it’s mainly over the elusive ownership of the ‘mulit-touch’ technology. This is why the Motorola Droid wasn’t shipped with it. But in a twist, Google enabled it on their Nexus One soon after the launch. (What’ more, is that there’s a related incident, since Nokia and Apple are already in a similar spat currently having the US Trade Agency reviewing the dispute.)
But to add some fuel to the fire, Google spoke up. And they didn’t just stoke the embers, they doused it with gasoline. According to TechCrunch, a Google spokesperson said…
“We are not a party to this lawsuit. However, we stand behind our Android operating system and the partners who have helped us to develop it…”
TechCrunch also believes that the lawsuit isn’t just about HTC, it’s about Android OS in general; and despite quite few theories, they believe the reason Android didn’t have multi-touch was because it was a “gentleman’s agreement between Apple and Google when the two were still all buddy-buddy.” But that’s gone down the toilet since Eric Schmidt has resigned. You may recall Steve Jobs’ comment: “They entered the phone business. Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them”
What’s odd is that these HTC phones have actually supported multi-touch (only one of the many patents Apple is disputing here), but it’s only now after Google just enabled it (specifically pinch-to-zoom) in the software that we’re seeing the lawsuit — of the hardware company involved. Still, this looks to be Apple multi-punching back. And Google doesn’t sound like it will back down.
So there’s some food for thought. The mobile phone wars are heating up. Will it go nuclear?