Apple asks ITC to block import of HTC handsets in latest patent complaint

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple has filed a new patent complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission, asking it once again to block the import of hardware made by rival smartphone maker HTC.



The complaint was filed with the ITC on July 8, and was revealed through a notice on its official website posted Monday. As noted by Bloomberg, the nature of the complaint was not revealed in the notice, and the document is not yet available to view.



The new complaint, numbered 2828, is categorized with "Portable Electronic Devices and Related Software." Named as proposed respondents are HTC Corp., of China., HTC America Inc. of Bellevue, Wash.



Asking the ITC to ban the import of devices is standard practice when a lawsuit is filed. Similar motions were made in legal spats Apple has had with Nokia and Samsung.



Apple first sued HTC in the ITC in March of 2010, and accused the Taiwanese company of infringing on 20 patents related to the iPhone's user interface, underlying architecture and hardware. In a statement, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said though competition is "healthy," competitors should not "steal" Apple's technology.



Though the suit was directed at HTC, the complaint specifically targeted a number of phones that run Google's Android mobile operating system, leading many to believe the real purpose of the complaint was to serve as a warning shot toward Google. For its part, HTC fired back with its own lawsuit, accusing Apple of infringing on five patents.







The first complaint filed by Apple against HTC is set to be decided on by a judge on Aug. 5. The findings will the be subject to review by the full commission.



HTC saw an early victory in the case in April, when the ITC staff voiced it support for the company as the trial began. The staff made the non-binding recommendation in favor of HTC, but the actual ruling will be made by ITC Administrative Law Judge Carl Charneski next month, and will then be reviewed by the six-member commission.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,749member
    Of course they filed another complaint. There's always room for more lawyers. They can share cubicles or get outsourced. Engineers require more overhead.



  • Reply 2 of 33
    Has the ITC ever blocked a major before? I read of kodak this, apple that, etc etc but nothing ever comes of it.



    Lawsuits and patents are useless. Just innovate like a mofo.
  • Reply 3 of 33
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    Of course they filed another complaint. There's always room for more lawyers. They can share cubicles or get outsourced. Engineers require more overhead.







    This may be linked to HTC's recent purchase of S3 graphics, which is of course suing Apple.
  • Reply 4 of 33
    dmarcootdmarcoot Posts: 191member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cy_starkman View Post


    Has the ITC ever blocked a major before? I read of kodak this, apple that, etc etc but nothing ever comes of it.



    Lawsuits and patents are useless. Just innovate like a mofo.





    What point is there to for you or Apple spend money on R&D to "innovate like a mofo" (as Apple does) to just have me come in steal your or Apple's innovation for nothing? That is why we have patents; to encourage and reward people and companies to innovate.



    And what does come out of if nothing else is Apple may be rewarded with a licensing fee paid out by HTC, so that in effect their R&D is not free.
  • Reply 5 of 33
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dmarcoot View Post


    What point is there to for you or Apple spend money on R&D to "innovate like a mofo" (as Apple does) to just have me come in steal your or Apple's innovation for nothing? That is why we have patents; to encourage and reward people and companies to innovate.



    And what does come out of if nothing else is Apple may be rewarded with a licensing fee paid out by HTC, so that in effect their R&D is not free.



    We'll, while the whole patent idea is nice and all, as long as patent trolls exist and make up a major part of patent law suits, the whole system is useless.



    But no one dares to interfere :/



    The only one winning in the long run are the patent lawyers :>
  • Reply 6 of 33
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    Essentially the goal at the ITC is to get lucky. So you sue in federal court seeking monetary damages. That is a lengthy process. You then file a complaint with the ITC, which can't award damages, but can ban the import of infringing products and is usually a quicker process. If a product was built in the US, this wouldn't be an effective attack.





    What happens is if the ITC says a product is infringing, that provides a strong incentive for the party with the alleged infringing product to settle. Sharp both sued Samsung and filed a complaint with the ITC. The ITC gave Sharp a favorable decision, which could have results in all of Samsung's infringing TV sets to be banned from the Country. The matter quickly settled in Sharp's favor, with Samsung paying licensing fees to Sharp. Samsung could wait around for the years it would take for the federal court to resolve the matter. Same with CRS and Broadcom. The ITC ruled in Broadcom's favor. The parties quickly settled.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cy_starkman View Post


    Has the ITC ever blocked a major before? I read of kodak this, apple that, etc etc but nothing ever comes of it.



    Lawsuits and patents are useless. Just innovate like a mofo.



  • Reply 7 of 33
    @dmarcoot



    Sure, I understand that.



    Still doesn't answer my question, when has the ITC actually blocked a major from importing? Nothing much ever comes from all this. The occasional payout..



    One assumes if you are going to sue over a patent violation at this level (apple etc, not patent trolling) that you have checked it is actually is in violation, not just hoping you can trick the court.



    So I ask. What is the point of patenting, if when it comes to court the ITC rarely does anything and you just waste a bunch of cash? The patent and court costs along with the staff fees to do both, executive time wasted on it etc. would be millions, the occasional license fee and usual no-outcome would struggle to match the cost to defend.



    It is like putting in an insurance claim for less than the excess. A waste of time.



    I'm not debating the value of IP as such
  • Reply 8 of 33
    Thanks TBell
  • Reply 9 of 33
    hmmm. i wonder if this suit pertains to both windows and android phones or just android.
  • Reply 10 of 33
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,749member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by phoebetech View Post


    hmmm. i wonder if this suit pertains to both windows and android phones or just android.



    For now Apple and Microsoft look like frenemies, ganged up to defeat Android, in much the same manner as Apple/Google was supposed to beat up on Microsoft as little as three years ago. Tho I'm sure that Microsoft is much more aware of how quickly Apple can turn than Google was.



    So I doubt either one wants to get in a legal fight with the other right now, no matter how egregious the purported patent infringement might be. Too many current benefits if they can rid Android from the mobile space.
  • Reply 11 of 33
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cy_starkman View Post


    Still doesn't answer my question, when has the ITC actually blocked a major from importing? Nothing much ever comes from all this. The occasional payout..



    You have to understand that the ITC has only recently become popular for this kind of activity because it was only with a landmark patent case that the Supreme Court changed the practice of federal courts to not give an injunction as a matter of course in cases of patent infringement



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EBay_In...xchange,_L.L.C.



    That by the way was an example of an injunction being granted against a major, even though it was overruled on appeal.



    You might want to read



    http://www.insidecounsel.com/2011/05...ingement-cases
  • Reply 12 of 33
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    So I doubt either one wants to get in a legal fight with the other right now, no matter how egregious the purported patent infringement might be. Too many current benefits if they can rid Android from the mobile space.



    Apple and Microsoft have a deep cross licensing agreement that dates back to 1997 or so, as a result they are unable to bring patent cases against each other. Apple could conceivably attack HTC or Samsung if they made a WP7 that violated design patents, but that is another matter.
  • Reply 13 of 33
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,749member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post


    Apple and Microsoft have a deep cross licensing agreement that dates back to 1997 or so, as a result they are unable to bring patent cases against each other. Apple could conceivably attack HTC or Samsung if they made a WP7 that violated design patents, but that is another matter.



    That's what I'm referring to. Not direct litigation against Microsoft but rather their licensed WM7 handset partners. And that won't happen anytime soon for the reasons I mentioned.
  • Reply 14 of 33
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    That's what I'm referring to. Not direct litigation against Microsoft but rather their licensed WM7 handset partners. And that won't happen anytime soon for the reasons I mentioned.



    If the WP7 handsets are pure WP7 implementations then Apple can't sue for the software, because the OEMs would be covered by MS's license. Apple would only be able to sue based on elements that the OEMs had added themselves. The Nokia N9 design running WP7 for example would be pretty safe unless Apple could get it on a hardware patent such as the headphone jack or the volume rocker.
  • Reply 15 of 33
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,749member
    So Cloudgazer, would you agree with me that it's currently an Apple/Microsoft gangbang, or is your opinion that it's just simple happenstance that Apple and Microsoft have been in agreement lately on issues that concern Google/Android, no behind the scenes meeting of the mind's involved.
  • Reply 16 of 33
    galbigalbi Posts: 968member
    If you cant beat them, sue them.
  • Reply 17 of 33
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    Although interesting, I do not think this case bears on why the ITC is popular. The ITC has become more popular because 10 to 15 years ago most US companies actually manufactured in the US. With the rise of so called free trade agreements, that is no longer the case. The ITC can't ban a product made here in the US.



    Also, it takes the federal court systems years to make a decision based on whether a patent infringes. So, the injunction generally wouldn't be applicable for years because the federal court isn't going to grant an injunction until infringement has been established. The ITC makes a decision in less than a year.



    My understanding is the Ebay case is important because the Supreme Court took away the choice of a victorious patent holder to generally be able to receive an injunction. The Court said it more important to weigh a variety of factors, including considering whether granting an injunction best serves the public's best interest when other factors such as monetary relief are available.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post


    You have to understand that the ITC has only recently become popular for this kind of activity because it was only with a landmark patent case that the Supreme Court changed the practice of federal courts to not give an injunction as a matter of course in cases of patent infringement



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EBay_In...xchange,_L.L.C.



    That by the way was an example of an injunction being granted against a major, even though it was overruled on appeal.



    You might want to read



    http://www.insidecounsel.com/2011/05...ingement-cases



  • Reply 18 of 33
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,589member
    I had to setup an HTC handshit for a customer this evening, I nearly smashed the bloody thing, laggy pos.



    Anyone know if there is a profile deployment tool for android handsets, similar to the iPhone deployment tool?
  • Reply 19 of 33
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TBell View Post


    Although interesting, I do not think this case bears on why the ITC is popular. The ITC has become more popular because 10 to 15 years ago most US companies actually manufactured in the US. With the rise of so called free trade agreements, that is no longer the case. The ITC can't ban a product made here in the US.



    Well that's of secondary importance to the fact that the ITC has only become the favoured venue for these things in the last few years, hence the small number of high profile spankings. As to the reason for the popularity, I'd say it's more related to the legal developments than industrial ones - the US economy hollowed out long before the sudden rise in ITC cases.
  • Reply 20 of 33
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    So Cloudgazer, would you agree with me that it's currently an Apple/Microsoft gangbang, or is your opinion that it's just simple happenstance that Apple and Microsoft have been in agreement lately on issues that concern Google/Android, no behind the scenes meeting of the mind's involved.



    I doubt there was a meeting in which Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer agreed to stick it to Google if that's what you mean. But obviously both of them will be targeting Android for their own reasons while ignoring irrelevant platforms like WebOS and rapidly fading platforms such as Blackberry and Symbian.



    There's a fundamental difference in their perspectives though, because Apple has at this point no reason to fear that WP7 will be taking over the world any time soon (IDC's crazy predictions not withstanding), and MS very much does have to assume that Android's loss may end up as Apple's gain.



    That's why it makes sense for MS to get royalties for their patent infringements rather than go for injunctions.



    If MS had any weapon to use against Apple in the mobile space I think they'd likely use it, but thanks to that same cross licensing agreement, they don't. So instead they're flogging the same old horse of branding their offering 'windows' and promising some nebulous connection to the desktop system that people seem to have no interest in.
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