Mar 2nd, 2010

gavel-1This could be big – Apple just sued HTC for patent infringement on 20 different patents related to the iPhone’s User Interface. I’m guessing the bulk of those accusations are regarding HTC Sense elements and specific functionality like, perhaps… pinch-to-zoom.

Here is the press release from Apple:

Apple Sues HTC for Patent Infringement

CUPERTINO, California—March 2, 2010—Apple® today filed a lawsuit against HTC for infringing on 20 Apple patents related to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware. The lawsuit was filed concurrently with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and in U.S. District Court in Delaware.

“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,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”

Apple reinvented the mobile phone in 2007 with its revolutionary iPhone®, and did it again in 2008 with its pioneering App Store, which now offers more than 150,000 mobile applications in over 90 countries. Over 40 million iPhones have been sold worldwide.

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and has entered the mobile phone market with its revolutionary iPhone.

The whole patent world is a mess in general with companies often being granted ownership of inventions that are so blatantly logical most people wouldn’t think to patent them in the first place. Please good sirs, allow me to patent the use of my pointer finger to point? Sure – why not – patent granted!

But with pinch-to-zoom being a HUGE topic of debate you have to wonder what 20 items are being included. HTC didn’t launch a multi-touch Android Phone (or phone in general) until well after Palm launched their WebOS with not only pinch-to-zoom but iTunes syncing. Why hasn’t Apple sued them?

This is a story whose plot will certainly thicken, but unfortunately it isn’t like to play out in the public domain. I am, however, dying to hear the details and the results. Anyone want to make some guesses as to what the heck is going on and where it will all end up?

Silly me… of course you do. Go for it. (Play nice)

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