28
Jul
apple-v-htc_2

Developments in the Apple v HTC patent war are coming in fast and it looks like things are heating up.

In a preliminary ruling (discussed further in our earlier article) the US International Trade Commission (ITC) found HTC liable for infringing Apple’s patents. Google’s executive chairman then hit back with his view on Apple’s strategy of litigating its competition into oblivion.

But, now Bloomberg is reporting that an unsealed (not made public) ruling dating back to July 1 may have turned the tide in favour of HTC. According to the earlier ITC ruling Apple’s Mac OS X is utilising technology that infringes two GPU patents owned by S3 Graphics.

First, a bit of background. In May 2010, S3 lodged a patent infringement claim with the ITC claiming that Apple devices infringed four of its GPU patents. Apple promptly applied to the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) to have those four patents invalidated. Invalidation applications being a fairly common tactic in patent infringement suits. Prior to the July 1 ITC ruling, the USPTO determined that two of S3's patents were invalid.

Shortly after the July 1 ruling HTC acquired S3 Graphics, inheriting their patent portfolio as well as their ongoing litigation.

However, this is a small victory for HTC. Firstly, the earlier ITC ruling states that only Mac OS X products are infringing S3’s patents and so iOS devices are not affected. Secondly, Mac’s utilising NVIDIA graphics are not affected as NVIDIA have a licence to use S3’s patents, hence only Mac’s running on AMD and Intel’s integrated graphics may face problems. Thirdly, in addition to invalidating two of S3’s patents, certain claims within the two infringed GPU patents were also deemed invalid. Although the two GPU patents are still valid, the two claims are unlikely to be persuasive.

Should the July 1 ruling be upheld by the full six-judge ITC panel, imports of Mac’s into the U.S. could potentially be restricted. However, it is more likely that with HTC’s newly obtained leverage (however limited) they may be able to negotiate some sort of mutual licensing agreement with Apple.

The complete S3 ruling is still being withheld pending last minute bickering between Apple and HTC over what confidential information should be left out of public view.

As a former HTC (now Samsung Galaxy S II) user and Android lover I am hoping that the patent rights obtained from HTC’s acquisition of S3 can save them from Apple’s litigating might.

Source: Bloomberg via DailyTech and ArsTechnica

Image Credit: TalkAndroid

Abhiroop Basu
Abhiroop Basu is an opinionated tech and digital media blogger. As a doe-eyed twenty-something he started his first blog TechComet to comment on anything tech-related that caught his omniscient eye. Since then he has blogged for Android Police, Make Tech Easier, and This Green Machine. In the real world, Abhiroop Basu is a resident of Singapore and the Editor of The Digit, a subsidiary of The Potato Productions Group.

  • kam

    i just bought the HTC sensation for my gf and she loves it to hell. so yeah i hoping htc will come out strong

  • Tom Rowly

    Why do we have patents on technology anyway? Isn't that just holding everything back?

    • Bill Jackson

      Surely you don't want to go back to a system where people kept everything a trade secret?

      The patent system ENCOURAGES people to publish their work in return for exclusive rights to use those works for a period of time. This ENCOURAGES innovation as someone can take the work that is published and build upon it to progress technology. In fact, the patent system was designed specifically to advance innovation, not hold it back by keeping secrets.

      People are complaining about the wrong problems. As I see it, we have two:

      First: many of the patents that are being granted are not worthy of protection. Fix the "junk patents" and we won't be having this debate.

      Second: the concept of clearing your product for infringement has apparently gone out the door. Companies used to do this, but now don't. Some believe that this puts the burden on the patent holder to find them, some believe that if they "don't know" they can't be found willfully infringing. Either way, if you are going to put out a product, first check to see if it infringes and if so get a license or design around it. But don't whine and complain if you don't clear and the owner of the property shows up asking for compensation.

      • Steve Goehre

        You are wrong. Did you ever read any of the patents? MS has patents on how to shutdown a PC with a shutdown button, etc, etc. Patents like that don't create innovation, they hinder it. You can come up with any idea, and I bet someone has a patent for that idea. Also, the huge amount of patents make it impossible for smaller companies to innovate. They just don't have the resources to check every single design concept and idea for possible patent infringements. Everyone who claims that, especially software patents, help innovation, never read any of them.

  • dethduck

    MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA​HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

  • http://www.podoco.net zach

    Intelligent Android developers should replace the ITC judges. Then it would be a fair trial.

  • Elijah Ullman

    Apple's new motto "If you can't innovate;Sue!"

    • Pudmunkie

      I think what you probably meant to say (and has been said by others) is, "If you can't innovate, Litigate"

  • http://www.aabbex-computers.com ppitbullthe1st

    This is just underhanded money grabbers at there best and its because of this new trend that the American's have started of litigation for everything so now its being used as a wepon in business how very sad and besides there is no such thing as intellectual property NO idea is only thought of by one person someone else has always thought of it as well so saying that one person owns the idea is only is completely obserd that should just do away with the ccopyrights all together it bull anyway

  • http://www.aabbex-computers.com ppitbullthe1st

    This is just underhanded money grabbers at there best and its because of this new trend that the American's have started of litigation for everything so now its being used as a wepon in business how very sad and besides there is no such thing as intellectual property NO idea is only thought of by one person someone else has always thought of it as well so saying that one person owns the idea is completely obserd that should just do away with the ccopyrights all together it bull anyway

  • Smiler

    I've always preferred pears myself anyway... :P

  • Smiler

    I've never purchased an HTC or Apple device, but I'd preferre HTC to win this case, because HTC actually think about the consumer, and that deserves support in my books!.
    (Samsung Galaxy S2 user if your wondering)

  • honkj

    imports of Mac’s into the U.S. could potentially be restricted. However, it is more likely that with HTC’s newly obtained leverage (however limited) they may be able to negotiate some sort of mutual licensing agreement with Apple.

    this is incorrect analysis, the GPU patents were ruled invalid just as the judge made his decision, in the appeal, Apple will certainly point out that the S3 patents are invalid now... so no import ban, even then, Apple would simply switch to the other GPU's it already uses...

    so there is ZERO leverage that HTC has against Apple...

    it is looking very grim for HTC, and Apple has more money than even god knows what to do with... so this isn't going to be a "licensing" deal... as other pundits had hoped...

    Apple looks to be going for blood, and they may very well get it....

    Samsung is a bigger copier than HTC, but that one will end in a cross license of patents, because Samsung has a bunch of patents.

    however Samsung may still be on the losing end of this, with fines (tripled for obviously knowing they were infringing from emails the judge has already pointed out) and a loop sided patent cross licensing...

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/abhiroop-basu Abhiroop Basu

      Particular claims were deemed to be invalid by the USPTO. That does not mean that the entire patent is invalid.

  • http://www.realitypod.com Realitypod

    I agreed with your blog. Great work

  • Rob

    Quick update to this story. AMD now claim that they are the owners of the S3 patents in dispute. They have filed a motion to have the ITC suit against Apple dropped. If this is the case HTC may have been duped by S3 into paying $100millions for assets they don't even own.

    http://www.geek.com/articles/mobile/htc-doesnt-own-the-s3-graphics-patents-it-used-to-sue-apple-says-amd-2011104/

  • branden

    i always find it humorous that apple has no problems stealing from everyone else, but Ruth forbid that someone takes something from them!

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