Apple A Potent Patent Bully
The Apple patent infringement suit against HTC, the Taiwan-based manufacturer of smartphones including the Eris and Nexus One, is widely seen as an escalation of the gritty battle royale over the future of mobile computing. In that battle, Silicon Alley’s Business Insider reports, Apple Is Armed To The Teeth With Patents:
Apple is suing HTC for violating some 20 patents — many in reference to Google’s Android operating system, which HTC uses.
Between 2004 and 2007, when Apple was preparing the iPhone, it filed 507 patents, while Google filed just 67, and HTC filed none, according to the chart.
Filing for patents isn’t the same as being awarded a patent, but it certainly shows that Apple has been more aggressive in terms of investing and innovating in technology — or at least in seeking patent credit for its work. (And of course, many of Apple’s patent filings were for work on other products; not just mobile stuff.)
They posted the chart above from Deutsche Bank’s Chris Whitmore. Today, CNet tallies Apple patent and trademark skirmishes through the years, noting:
In the past three years, Apple has been on the receiving end of may patent suits related to almost every aspect of its business: the iPhone, Apple TV, iPhone apps, employees, accessories, and the Mac itself.
Companies accusing Apple of infringing on their patents include Kodak and Nokia. You might also remember the famous Mac v. Windows battle:
Apple tried to sue Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard to stop them from using graphical user interface elements that looked a lot like those in Apple’s Lisa and Mac OS. Apple in this case, did not prevail. The court ruled that the copyright law at the time did not allow patent protection for “the idea of a graphical user interface, or the idea of a desktop metaphor.”
To confuse matters even further, in the middle of that case, Xerox decided to sue Apple for the same thing, alleging that Apple’s interface was too closely based on an unlicensed Xerox graphical user interface. That lawsuit was dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired.
Apple’s suit against Microsoft and HP was almost entirely a failure. All of the claims were dismissed with the exception of one: the court ruled that the trash can and folder icons from HP’s software did infringe. Apple did appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the court declined to hear the case.
Ironically, in the Apple v. HTC lawsuit, it looks as if Microsoft may be leaning Apple’s way.