Apple filed suit at the ITC against HTC back in March 2010, claiming the Taiwanese smartphone and PDA pioneer - they were making PDAs and touchscreen mobile devices back when Apple was still busy not dying - infringed upon ten software patents. A judge from the US International Trade Commission has now ruled in favour of Apple, but this decision is preliminary, and will have to be reviewed by the highest ruling body in the ITC, a six judge panel.
The patents in question are the following two software patents:
- 5,946,647 - 'system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data'
- 6,343,263 - 'real-time signal processing system for serially transmitted data'
Even if you dive into these software patent filings, it still looks like incredibly generic crap we've been doing for ages, with tons and tons of prior art. Then again, and you may call me cynical, but I'm not exactly surprised; a bunch of random US judges, most likely with little to no technological expertise, ruling in favour of one of the largest US companies, against a relatively small Taiwanese company.
HTC said in a statement it will not take this bending over. "HTC will vigorously fight these two remaining patents through an appeal before the ITC commissioners who make the final decision," said Grace Lei, HTC's general counsel, "This is only one step of many in these legal proceedings."
It will now depend on the review by the six judges. You'd hope some sort of settlement is reached between HTC and Apple, because if not, some HTC devices will be banned from the US. Apple is not a company which likes to licenses its patents, so this might actually be Apple's goal: to block competition, because Apple is quite clearly unable to compete against Android on merit.
These two software patents are also used in Applr's lawsuit against Motorola, but since Motorola is a US company, it will be interesting to see how it pans out there - maybe my cynicism will prove to have been misplaced.
In any case, congratulations to His Steveness for beating a competitor not by making a better product, but by having the best lawyers in a broken system. Real classy, Steve, real classy.