Lately it seems as though HTC has been on the offense with some lawsuits against Apple. Last month HTC sued Apple claiming infringement on three patents. Today they went after Apple again, this time using patents obtained by Google.
Google obtained these patents over the past year which originated from Motorola, Inc., Openwave Systems, Inc., and Palm, Inc. Google transferred them to HTC on September 1st, nine in total
HTC is claiming Apple infringed on four patents that were originally from Motorola. This was filed today in federal court in Delaware. They also amended the complaint from last month with the U.S. International Trade Commission claiming infringement of three patents, originally from Openwave, and two patents, originally from Palm.
Apple and Samsung are currently involved in a number of lawsuits across the world. Today’s news comes from Australia where a judge is asking for Apple to reveal iPad and iPad 2 sales data.
Apple wants an injunction on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia, and is claiming that it will hurt iPad sales. If they don’t provide the data, this argument won’t have much strength.
“Unless Apple puts on evidence showing the impact in the U.S. or U.K., I can’t draw any positive assumptions,” Federal Court Justice Annabelle Bennett said in Sydney.
Bennett won’t force Apple to hand over the data and denied Samsung’s request for them. Samsung wants sales figures for the U.K. and U.S. to prove there hasn’t been an effect on iPad sales. It is up to Apple at this point.
For a 12 week period, ending on August 7th 2011, analyst firm Kantar Worldpanel has reported Android now has a 47.1% hold on the smartphone market in the UK. Following up Android is Blackberry at 21.5% and Apple at 20.8%. Bringing up the rear is Symbian with 7.2%, Windows Mobile 7 at 1.7%, Bada for 0.8% and Windows Mobile showing 0.7%. Hey Microsoft, you’re almost not even existing at all in the smartphone world. In comparison with the same 12 weeks last year, Android has shown an increase of 24.2% compared to a decline for Apple by 7.2%. Symbian has taken a huge nose dive down by 19.1%.
Apple is at it again. Samsung recently unveiled the Galaxy Tab 7.7 at the IFA Conference in Berlin, but they were forced to remove it from the show floor because a Dusseldorf court granted Apple’s request to ban sales and marketing of it. The above picture shows them covering all references to it.
“Samsung respects the court’s decision,” Chung said, adding that the company believes it “severely limits consumer choice in Germany. Samsung will pursue all available options, including legal action, to defend its intellectual property rights, he said.
If you remember, last month the Dusseldorf Regional court granted a preliminary injunction for all of Europe (except the Netherlands) on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 because it simply looked like the iPad. It was later changed to just Germany.
The Netherlands court threw out 9 out of the 10 patents that Apple claimed Samsung infringed, and gave Samsung until October 13th to remedy the remaining patent, which will most likely be a software update.
This latest judgement in Dusseldorf took place on Friday, one day after the Galaxy Tab 7.7 announcement. Lets also not forget that Apple might have tampered with evidence.
As soon as word spread that Google acquired Motorola Mobility, it didn’t take long for people to assume that it was all about Motorola’s patents. Everyone knows that Google and its Android partners are in the middle of a patent war with the likes of Microsoft and Apple. The fact that Motorola owns roughly 17,000 patents made it an easy conclusion. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said the purchase was aimed at acquiring products, and not just patents.
“We did it for more than just patents,” Schmidt said in a conversation with Salesforce.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff. “The Motorola team has some amazing products.”
I am sure Motorola’s value was more than patents for the single reason that if Motorola’s patents were so strong, they would not be in current legal battles with Apple and Microsoft. I really think Google is looking at Apple’s model of owning the design and manufacturing. The fact that Motorola owned 17,000 patents was frosting on the cake, not to mention they were probably the only Android manufacturer that could be acquired. Lets face it, Samsung, HTC, LG, or Sony Ericsson could not be acquired.
Before I report this news for you, I want to point out one of the patents in question here in case you’ve missed it. U.S. Patent No. 5,946,647 involves the following. When you receive an incoming message on your iPhone containing a phone number, web link, e-mail address, or street address, this information is highlighted and turned into a link that you can tap. This tap in turn performs an action like opening the web link in Safari or asking if you would like to dial the phone number. That’s weird because I would have thought tapping a phone number should open your music player. Surely, who ever implemented that process on Android must have stolen it from Apple. Just food for thought since this is one of many patents Apple says HTC is in violation of.
Newly introduced into Apple’s patent infringement case against HTC involves Andy Rubin, co-founder of Android Inc. Apple is alleging that Rubin took inspiration for Android’s framework from APIs he supposedly encountered while working for Apple in the early 90s. Hit up the break for more.
We have heard all along that Amazon is working on two tablets. We are expecting at least one of them to come out this fall, and to be priced as a loss leader to blow Apple out of the water. This will most likely be a seven inch model.
We know they are working on a 10.1-inch version as well, but it looks like it might not hit the scene until the 1st quarter 2012 according to Foxconn, the manufacturer of the device. We have heard the codename is Hollywood, and it could include NVIDIA’s Kal-El quad-core chip. If this is the case, it would be a big set back since ASUS is ready to go with the Kal-El chip in the follow up to the very successful Transformer this fall.
I still think that if Amazon comes out with a $249 tablet this fall as expected, sales will be through the roof. Ultimately the hardcores will be yearning for the “Hollywood,” but volume is where it’s at for Amazon. They have a lot to gain from their app store, music, video, and book distributions. With the 7-inch version priced right, it will produce the volume necessary to drive their digital business.
The Android freight train shows no signs of slowing as its market share in the U.S has climbed to 41.8% for the three month period ending July 2011. Back in April it was at 36.4%. Apple was able to gain market share as well, but marginally. They are now at 27.0%, which is a gain of 1.0% from the previous period of 26.0%. Of course it is no surprise that Microsoft and RIM dropped in their respective market shares.
Android’s gain of 5.4% is huge as compared to Apples’s gain of 1.0%. Apple will continue to hold its own, especially with the iPhone 5 coming out this fall, and especially if the rumors hold that it will show up on Sprint as well. Android’s gain is coming from Microsoft and RIM’s decline. RIM will probably never show an increase unless they adopt Android, and Microsoft has a chance for some marginal increases with the launch of Mango.
There is no question the patent wars plaguing the smartphone and tablet industry is out of control. Verizon’s chief counsel, Randal Milch is now asking President Obama to step in. He wants a blanket statement from the President making clear that he would not allow any decision blocking imports of consumer wireless devices. He would rather see the parties enter into a license agreement.
The real question is if the President has the authority? It happens to be one peculiarity of the ITC that allows rulings to be waived by the President.
Unfortunately Verizon’s perspective is to provide new phones and tablets, and the blocking of imports hinders that. They want everything to be settled with licensing fees, but that is not the solution either. Licensing fees add to the costs and slows innovation. The real problem is the patent system. Patents are given out for just about anything, and the entire system needs to be overhauled.
Ultimately Milch’s request is a start. It could help burst the patent bubble so we can get back to pure innovation.