A redacted version of the HTC-Apple patent licensing agreement was published in the public record today as part of the Samsung v. Apple trial, and AllThingsD has a copy. It's 143 pages long (to be fair, only about a fifth of that is the actual settlement), so let me give you the skinny.


First, what has HTC agreed to? Well, it's actually not super complicated to distill down: basically, HTC can use Apple's functional software patents under the license, except those covered under an "anti-cloning" rule and which are part of the "distinct Apple user experience" - unless those features are part of the core Android OS that HTC does not control. That means things like dialing a phone number by recognizing it in plain text and tapping it are presumably now fair game (please bring back the app picker, HTC), while stuff like the rubber-banding effect is probably not. None of this is made explicit as to which patents constitute the "distinct" Apple experience, though, as the relevant sections are redacted. The deal also doesn't cover any of Apple's design patents, trademarks, or other IP.

As for that whole "cross-licensing" bit, yes, this is a cross-licensing deal. But it's a two-way deal only in the sense that the parties get access to one another's patent portfolios. Even then, HTC's access to that portfolio is more limited than Apple's because of the "anti-cloning" provisions.

HTC is also the only one paying any money to anybody, as is made clear in section 6 of the settlement. FYI, Apple's happy to take either ACH or wire transfer. It's obviously redacted as to the amount, but it is 100% confirmed now that HTC is paying a per-unit sold royalty to Apple, and possibly a lump sum, too. Section 6.2 is referenced as to royalties, but 6.1 is not - this may be a lump sum payment for prior infringement.

So, was it a bad deal? Without the numbers, that's hard to call. But it's also pretty much what we expected, and I doubt if HTC's going to be much worse off for settling. The real question now is whether Apple will offer similar deals to other manufacturers, and if they will accept those deals.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: the mobile patent wars are poisoning the industry, and any settlement, even one that makes Apple some money, is good for everyone at the end of the day. The squabbling needs to stop.


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.

  • adi19956

    I first thought that this deal was a good message to the industry, but it appears now that Apple has merely got HTC's lunch money.
    Either way I hope more deals are settled between manufacturers, maybe with a "You can use mine if I can use yours" arrangement, but without so much money being thrown around.

    • Nicholas Loomans

      It's how it used to be until some companies went on a warpath.

      • http://twitter.com/havens1515 Randroid

        If by "some companies" you mean Apple, then I agree.

        • Terrin Bell

          Not sure how you can claim Apple started it. Nokia first sued Apple. The two sides settled. Motorola also sued Apple first. Apple essentially sued Samsung and HTC after both parties refused to take a license from Apple. Samsung used all its inside Apple knowledge gained from supplying Apple parts to copy Apple right down to the packaging. I remember standing in a Bestbuy once for about fifteen minutes waiting for my girlfriend, and three people walked by and commented on the new iPhone that was on display next to me. The problem was it was not an iPhone. It was a Samsung phone that looked almost exactly like an iPhone right down to the on screen icons. HTC in the first couple of years after the iPhone was released engaged in similar tactics although it was not as bad as Samsung.

  • DeadSOL

    Horrid. Quite horrid, if you ask me!

  • QwietStorm

    So HTC got bagged and tagged, but because it was a settlement, it's' a good thing. Alllllrighty then.

    • Shane Milton

      I TOTALLY agree. While yes, "the mobile patent wars are poisoning the industry", no, "any settlement" is most certainly NOT a good thing. In fact, a settlement like this is just making the problem WORSE in that it's validating that this patent war is something that MORE people should get involved in (because if you do, you'll scare people into giving you money)!

      I've said this before and I'll say it again, this settlement is NOT good for everybody, ESPECIALLY now that we have confirmation that it's effectively (exactly?) what we thought it was.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

        I'll second that, or 19th it after seeing your upvotes.

  • StopItApple

    Apple is cancer because it acts just like cancer, and I hope Apple dies of cancer just like its creator. There, I said it. No matter how distasteful.

    • Bleakvision

      Well, it's distasteful alright.

    • adeem kasy

      I agree on 'apple' part.
      but disagree on 'creator' part. it's a bit harsh you know.

      no matter how hateful I'm toward someone, if he/she had passed away, I'm no longer have reason for hating him/her.

      • StopItApple

        I do have a reason to keep hating, because there's all that legacy enterprise philosophy and school of thought they've left behind. Much like miseducated sons will be bad to the planet long after their parents are gone. And I have no problem pointing fingers to deceased people, the fact they're dead is not a reason to make me want to respect them more than when they were alive. I'd rather respect the living than the dead, actually.

  • Alec Smith

    HTC now has access to some of Apple's patents and won't be harassed by Apple for quite a long time, I'd say it was worth it.

    • ScottColbert

      Agreed. Considering it's not exactly raking in the money like say, Samsung, settling was probably much cheaper than continuing with the court cases.

  • Beaner

    Chicken shit HTC! Y u cave in so easy?

    • http://www.facebook.com/JoshuaNReynolds Joshua Reynolds

      They aren't exactly rolling in the dough. While I can't say I *like* that they settled, I certainly think I understand why. They simply don't have the money necessary to keep fighting. This'll be cheaper for them. When I say "cheaper," I actually mean "possible." If you spend on irrelevant shit, you end up like RIM--not enough money invested into development and, thus, failing despite having been in control at one point.

  • marcusmaximus04

    "while stuff like the rubber-banding effect is probably not."

    Wait... I thought Apple lost the patent to that...

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      It's not lost yet. That was an initial determination - it's just an example, really.

  • Cuvis

    I'll tell you what needs to stop, the stupid software patents that enable people like Apple.

  • John O’Connor


  • Jon Garrett

    I was on the subway the other day and I was surrounded by Samsung devices--not shitty ones either., everybody (and I do mean everybody) around me had Note II's, S III's and S II's I have the Note. there was a time when everybody had iPhones, now seems like all I see are S III's & II's and Notes.

    • Modinator

      hipsters go for what is hip...

  • TylerChappell

    I am so glad I will never be buying another HTC phone ever again since they are so willing to bow down and bend over for Apple.

    • rogert

      same here. desire user. although I love htc, this might be my first and last htc phone.

      • TylerChappell

        As a Thunderbolt owner, I am glad they are not doing well. 4 months later and I still have not received the official ICS upgrade they promised, and the leaked version is really buggy. And they wonder why they are losing customers. It looks like it will be Samsung or Motorola for my next phone, maybe even LG! If they're not bending over to Apple, they're bending over to Verizon, as the Droid DNA is a prime example. They're not doing well because frankly, they don't deserve to be doing well.

    • chlo1ber

      No idea why you say such a thing. HTC isn't exactly doing very well, so settling it this way may have been their only choice.

  • PINJ

    No Backspin. I'm Disgusted At My Phones Manufacturer. And I Don't Mean Foxconn (Ouch!)

  • FrillArtist

    Way to go HTC. Bowing and kissing the devil's feet.