Apple recently won an injunction that could prevent HTC from importing several Android phones into the United States, and now it has been granted a patent for a technology that may drastically affect how Android vendors design their devices and user interfaces. The Cupertino-based company was granted a patent titled “Portable electronic device with graphical user interface supporting application switching,” which basically means Apple has been awarded a patent for switching apps while on a phone call. That’s a pretty valuable patent, considering most smartphones allow users to switch to a new application while on a phone call. As CBS points out, the broad wording within the patent documentation could make it very hard for Apple’s competitors to create a workaround. For example, the patent describes how a user might use his or her finger to tap a menu and choose another application — something that can currently be done on all smartphones. Read on for more. More →
Apple has reportedly told a German court that it will owe $2.7 billion if it loses a patent lawsuit against Motorola. The two companies have been locked in a legal battle in which Motorola has accused Apple of infringing on a patent related to email sync technology. As a result, Motorola recently won an injunction against Apple Inc. “In light of this risk, Apple’s lawyers have asked the court to determine that MMI will have to give a 2 billion euro bail (US$2.7 billion based on today’s exchange rate) if it seeks to enforce the patent,” patent expert Florian Miller wrote on his blog, FOSS Patents. “The purpose of such a bail is to ensure that an alleged infringer will be compensated if the enforced injunction is later overturned by an appellate court.” The judge presiding over the case isn’t quite convinced that the battle is worth that much money, however. “I am not yet entirely sure that amount adequately mirrors the commercial value of this dispute… The technology isn’t a standard and there are alternative ways to provide the same services,” the judge said.
FOSS Patents is reporting that Motorola has won an injunction related to a patent infringement lawsuit in Germany, Europe’s largest market. According to the ruling by a Mannheim Regional Court, Apple is barred from selling any mobile device that infringe on two Motorola Mobility patents filed in April of 2003. Motorola is also reportedly owed for past damages. One of the patents in question relates to GSM, UMTS and 3G, and it is unclear what the second patent covers. If Motorola Mobility actually has won an injunction against all of Apple’s mobile devices in Germany, it would be a huge win for the company and Google’s Android platform as well. We’ll keep you updated.
UPDATE: It looks like Motorola’s win was scored against Apple Inc. rather than its local subsidiary, Apple Germany. As Apple Inc. doesn’t sell anything in Germany, it looks like this is an empty victory for Motorola, but under the ruling, this affects “new goods” which means that Apple can’t deliver new products to Apple Germany. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out.
HTC on Wednesday filed a patent complaint against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission. The new filing is actually an amended complaint filed previously with the ITC, but it now cites nine new patents previously owned by Google but transferred to HTC just last week. Prior to being held by Google, four of the patents were registered to Motorola, currently the $12.5 billion apple of Google’s eye. Motorola had apparently transferred the patents to Google at some point over the past year. The other five were previously owned by Palm and Openwave before Google took ownership and then passed them to HTC. While Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility has yet to receive regulatory approval, it looks like Google is already arming itself and its partners to protect Android against Apple and other companies currently targeting the platform. More →
Early Monday morning, Google announced that it will acquire Motorola for $12.5 billion. Google CEO Larry Page explained the acquisition will help bolster the tech giant’s patent portfolio and that his company will continue to “work with all [of its partners] to deliver outstanding user experiences.” While it may seem that Motorola will now have the upper hand in creating Android smartphones, execs from Samsung, Sony Ericsson, HTC, and LG have all issued statements in support of the acquisition. “We welcome today’s news, which demonstrates Google’s deep commitment to defending Android, its partners, and the ecosystem,” J.K. Shin, president of Samsung’s Mobile Communications division said. “I welcome Google’s commitment to defending Android and its partners,” Sony Ericsson president and CEO Bert Nordberg said. “We welcome the news of today’s acquisition, which demonstrates that Google is deeply committed to defending Android, its partners, and the entire ecosystem,” HTC’s CEO Peter Chou added. “We welcome Google’s commitment to defending Android and its partners,” LG’s president and CEO Jong-Seok Park said. The deal should certainly help Google defend Motorola, Samsung and HTC in their ongoing patent battles with Apple and other companies, though it remains to be seen how the acquisition might affect the Android ecosystem in the long run.
HTC’s CEO Peter Chou spoke with investors recently and promised that its ongoing patent battles with Apple will not hurt the company. “Many lawsuits nowadays are results of being successful; it’s part of the business,” Chou said. “We will not bring the company to a dangerous position.” Earlier this month the United States International Trade Commission ruled that HTC was infringing on two of Apple’s patents related to a “system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data,” and a “real-time signal processing system for serially transmitted data.” In addition, the ITC ruled that Apple’s Mac OS X operating system is infringing on patents owned by S3, which HTC acquired on July 6th. The ruling against HTC could spell danger for Android makers, as the patents are believed to be largely important to the operating system. Google has said that it is standing behind HTC and its other Android partners, however, and it was revealed on Friday morning that it recently purchased 1,030 more patents to help it go to war with competitors. More →
Speaking with Bloomberg recently, HTC’s chief financial officer Winston Yung said that his company is open to cutting a deal with Apple over various patents the two companies are currently fighting over. “We have to sit down and figure it out,” Yung said. “We are open to all sorts of solutions, as long as the solution and the terms are fair and reasonable. On and off we’ve had discussions with Apple, even before the initial determination came out.” Earlier this month, an International Trade Commission judge ruled that HTC was infringing on two of Apple’s patents related to a “system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data,” and a “real-time signal processing system for serially transmitted data.” HTC said it would appeal the ruling, however, and Apple was also recently found guilty of infringing on patents owned by S3 Graphics, which HTC purchased in early July. More →
According to a report by Citi analyst Walter Pritchard, Microsoft may be making more money off Google’s Android operating system than it makes off its own Windows Phone platform — five times more, in fact. Pritchard states that as a result of a patent settlement, HTC is required to pay Microsoft $5 for every Android phone sold. Analyst Horace Dediu estimates that HTC has sold 30 million Android smartphones to date, which adds up to $150 million in the bank for Microsoft. Dediu notes that Microsoft has reported Windows Phone sales totaling 2 million licenses to date, and he estimates the company’s license fee to be $15 for a total of just $30 million. Pritchart notes that Microsoft is currently suing other Android phone makers for infringements on the company’s intellectual property, and is seeking between $7.50 and $12.50 per device sold. As much money as the company is making on sales of HTC’s Android phones, it’s easy to see why Microsoft is pursuing other cell phone makers with similar suits. More →