Apple has filed a new complaint with the ITC against HTC over the same data-tapping patent that caused a substantial disruption of HTC's supply line into the United States, and resulted in delayed or stifled launches for a number of phones.

After removing the multi-option dialogue that appeared upon pressing a phone number in an email or webpage from its devices, HTC proclaimed it was clear of Apple's patent on data-tapping techniques. Apple seems to think they're wrong - and is now claiming that a core Android functionality (long-press URL action prompting a multi-selection dialogue) is infringing on the patent.

Now, one thing here does need to be cleared up: Apple is not asserting that it owns the concept of "data-tapping," but a specific implementation of the feature, and is claiming HTC infringes on some technical aspects thereof. It seems quite likely what's happened here is that HTC looked at Google's code for these long-press URL actions and used a similar technique with its feature for phone numbers. As you can see, the phone number action is no longer present on the One X, and tapping a number goes straight to the dialer, while long pressing just brings up copy and paste.

Screenshot_2012-06-06-08-53-23 Screenshot_2012-06-06-08-53-35

images from HTC One X

However, long-pressing a link brings up the standard Gmail dialogue for that action:


Apple, then, is attacking a more core functionality of Android, and does specifically cite the implementation found in Gmail in its complaint (see below). This is confirmed by the fact that Apple is asserting twenty-nine HTC phones in the US (basically, their entire lineup for the last 2 years) infringe on the patent in question. They even named the Hero in this complaint, so you can see just how far back Apple is claiming Google's data-tapping implementation (and HTC's use of it) has been infringing.

Apple allegation of continued infringement by HTC

Apple is actively using this patent in litigation against Motorola in Illinois, as well. Motorola attempted to have the patent invalidated, but this effort has seemingly failed thus far.

HTC claims that the implementation found on its phones (read: Google's implementation) does not infringe on Apple's patent, and that will be the issue the ITC will have to look at, as the patent-in-suit is rather technical. If HTC is found to infringe, it could end up back in the situation it found itself for the past month, with its phones stuck in limbo at US Customs until it or Google find a workaround.

That said, now that Google is control of Motorola, it will likely fight hard to have this patent invalidated, and is probably actively working on a way to avoid it entirely already.


David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Deltaechoe

    Here we go again, Apple's motto "Don't innovate, litigate"

    • John O’Connor

      Do I smell an Apple/Oracle merger?! ha

    • alex2792

      If it wasn't for Apple Google would be attempting to copy BB OS 7 while Samesung would be getting sued by RIM for their Galaxy Blueberry S3 clone.

      • http://moondowner.wordpress.com Martin Spa.

         Or maybe Palm with it's webOS would have succeeded?

      • dp

        This is the age old beta vs VHS, Usb vs FireWire. Open source and collaborative work will always beat greed.

  • http://twitter.com/MathieuLLF Mathieu LeFrançois Ⓥ

    This is getting ridiculous

    • http://www.facebook.com/Shad0wguy Chris Jutting

      It's been ridiculous for a long time now.  The ridiculousness merely continues.

  • http://code.google.com/p/lg-v909 Aaron Echols

    I really hope Apple goes under..., this is getting ridiculous. With Jobs already stating that he wants to "kill" Android, they are continuing the tradition afterwards. Vague patents need to go away and be permanently invalidated. They are not creating any kind of competition. I understand that idea's need to be protected, but something vague shouldn't be protected. If this is the case, M$ should sue Apple for right-click menu's and vice-versa...


    • Alan

      The 1990s called, they want their "M$" back!!!

      • fuckyoufag

        my balls calling your mother asking to have my dna back ohh wait you're already out your moms vagina. nvm...

  • Lexster

    For Christ's sake...seriously, Apple? Get the hell over it! It's a common use function. You can't patent something that is used by everyone. It's like patenting the alphabet and saying everyone has to pay you whenever they type a word. Get over yourself.

  • http://twitter.com/MikkoPelkkala Mikko Pelkkala

    Ha! The market empire of apple is shaking as the android keeps growing up, up and up again. :)

  • http://twitter.com/afazel Ali Fazel

    Funny. I'm pretty sure I could do the same thing in Windows Mobile before the iPhone was invented.

  • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

    I will wait until iPhone's own Map app comes out -- with Google being so many years ahead of Apple in making maps, I am sure they will find something to sue Apple for infringement.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=714859472 Rajvir Singh

    The tech world would have been a better place if Apple had died along with Steve Jobs..

  • Jaysann22

    Im suing you all for using my oxygen. I thought of breathing it first!!! :P

  • Falconator

    I'm going to patent the ability to blink and everyone will pay me for blinking!!! 

  • RichardLAnderson
  • Kellic

    I'm going to patent the idea of digging up Steve Jobs's remains and beat the shit out of 
    Tim Cook with Jobs's femur.

    • Barry Denton


  • AppleFUD

    Dear Apple Inc. . . . . . . . .

    Remember the GUI?

  • Darkseider

    Windows Phone, a.k.a Windows PocketPC, as well as PalmOS had this functionality a long time before iOS and Apple's patents.  A simple showing of prior art will squash this one hard.  Apple is struggling to stay relevant and this is the only way they can since they can't innovate to save their damned lives.

    • Freak4Dell

      But it seems that the issue is not so much that the feature is there, but rather, how the feature is coded.

  • Droidfan

    First off...Apple brought very little that was new to the universe with the iPhone.  They moved the deck chairs around some....that's all.  But these latest suit show just how pathetic Apple has become.  Hardly a shadow, of the somewhat shallow thing they were before.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QP7L3Q6PG5RAZ2FSVT5UNRHXEU luis

    chingas a tu madre Apple.

  • moelsen8

    Grow up already apple. Bunch of crybabies.

  • Darktanone

    Google needs to be more vigilant in selecting what they include in Android. So far, they've been too liberal with using other company's IP and it's coming back to bite them and their partners. Apple and Microsoft are bigger fish in the sea and they need to recognize that fact. 

    • Jason Hardman

      Like others have stated before, Windows PocketPC was doing long press selections almost a decade before the iPhone. So the IP would actually be microsoft's.

      • Darktanone

        Data dectectors were invented by Apple and it premiered on the Mac in the mid 90s. I remember using it when it was introduced.

        • Craig Nelson

          So why aren't they suing microsoft also? 

          • Darktanone

            I think it's because of the cross  licensing agreement struck between the two companies after Steve Jobs got back his role as Apple's CEO in 1997. He agreed to drop all on-going patent lawsuits Apple had against Microsoft at the time, they agreed to cross license their patents, Microsoft would continue to produce Office for the Mac and invest $150 million in Apple.

    • Rogue888

      Not sure what you been smoking mate but apple will fail even harder if they keep up this nonsense.
      This is basically right-click and it´s been around since umm forever.
      The only thing I can give apple on the "big" scale is how much they suck.
      I guess they have to sue every phone OS from symbian through webOS and forward if they feel so strong about this function.

      Truth is that they are scared shitless of phones like the Galaxy S3 or HTC One X etc that they know deep in their hearts are far superior in every aspect then any new iphone they could think up.

      Pretty easy to convert an iphone 4/4S user, just whip out the Galaxy S2 for a few min and tell them "check out the new S3, it´s even more awesome and all your favorite apps you can find on google play"

      To sum it up, if apple keeps this up they will sink back into being a tech company novelty.

      • Darktanone

        There is no truth your response. You can continue thinking like that or face the reality that Apple is not letting up and neither is Microsoft. Continue to over simplify the seriousness of this patent to compensate for your obvious lack of understanding of how it works, and you'll be truly surprised when things don't work out as you predict. This patent was used successfully against HTC and now Apple is targeting Android. If it holds up, all Android devices become Apple's target.

        • MaskedAvenger

          Just because you didn't like it guy does NOT mean that is wrong. And the fact that Apple is exploiting the stupid US patent system says everything.

          • Darktanone

            I'll agree that Apple is worried about the competition, but not in the way you're thinking. They worry that their hard work is being copied and used by competitors with great success. Imagine how Google would react if Apple used their algorithms to create a competing search engine, packaged it and made it free and open for any company to create a competing search business! Google would sue to protect their IP because this is their core business. Apple wants them to stop taking a free ride off their innovation. Like Tim Cook said at All Things D's D10 conference, it's like making a great painting and somebody comes along and takes all the credit. Back door  negotiations have failed and litigation is the last recourse. Unlike Microsoft, money or licensing deals is not their goal in these lawsuits, they want their products distinguished from the competition and that means removing the infringing IP. Google and its partners are taking risks in the hopes the patents will be invalidated by the courts. 

  • Asphyx

    This just in...
    Apple is suing the Human Race for patent infringement on use of the Index Finger

  • http://twitter.com/fightcrazy Vinny

    ATTENTION, Apple is the scum of the earth and proves it every day. Apple just changed it's address, front steps of the court house. This just shows how scared Apple is, they rape because they can no longer innovate.

  • Simon Belmont

    Seriously? My phone from 2.5 years ago (Sprint HTC Hero) is included in the complaint?

    I know of older WinMo and Palm phones that used this way before Apple did. Additionally, webOS uses this too. This is and has been ridiculous for a while now. Ugh.

  • Michael Goff

    Isn't the long press technically the touch screen equivalent of a PC's right-click?  It essentially brings up a context menu, which Microsoft has been using for decades.  

    • http://www.krupa.me.uk/ Gerard Krupa

      It's not just bringing up a list of options when tapping/clicking on something.  The patent relates to having the software parse arbitrary text such as emails or web pages for recognisable patterns (phone numbers, email addresses, URLs), highlighting them and being able to interact with them in a context-sensitive way.  Just right-clicking on a simple UI control isn't what's under dispute.

    • http://www.krupa.me.uk/ Gerard Krupa

      It's not just bringing up a list of options when tapping/clicking on something.  The patent relates to having the software parse arbitrary text such as emails or web pages for recognisable patterns (phone numbers, email addresses, URLs), highlighting them and being able to interact with them in a context-sensitive way.  Just right-clicking on a simple UI control isn't what's under dispute.

  • yarrellray

    Apple equals nothing more than a sad conclusion. What else can they do but SUE there definitely not innovative or creating compelling products. Apple sucks elephant balls and so does apple users...

  • Barry Denton

    What an ass whipping!  Google form a damn alliance with every company that has built anything with Android in it.  Patent everything in sight and sue the fuXX out of Apple and delay their products month after month.  Sue them for the drop-down notification and sue them for their new map.  Hell, just come up with something, so they can't release their ios6 or the iPhone 5, until next year.  Time to start eating up that revenue. 

  • Freak4Dell

    As each day passes, Apple shows more and more how desperate they truly are. A normal company's response to competition is to better their own products. Apple's is "sue, sue sue." It will all come crashing down on their heads soon enough.

  • http://twitter.com/fightcrazy Vinny

    Apple is raping not innovating. They have turned into scum of the earth. Truly sad.

  • Lou

    Just In: God sues Apple for using an "Apple" as the company name.

    • nan

      if that happens Apple will already gone from history :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/pittspgh PittsPgh Pitts

    Now these patents seem too simple to be patented. Kind of like the KickTail on a skate board. I knew I had heard that when the modern day skateboard inventor had died. 

    Larry Stevenson obituary: Skateboard innovator and publisher dies at 81 - Los Angeles Times
    http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/27/local/la-me-larry-stevenson-20120327Other manufacturers soon began copying Stevenson's design and almost universally refused to pay him royalties. Financially, the invention nearly ruined him as he tried to protect the patent in court. In 1982, the Supreme Court refused to review a decision that found the kick-tail too "simple" to merit patent protection This here seems like the way the most of the Apple patent lawsuits are going.