Apple sues HTC – what is too much in Patents?


After spending some time at the receiving end of Nokia’s patent cases, now its Apple’s turn to send lawyers in frency with a new Patent violation case. But this time around, the patents in question are more of software based rather than the Hardware based ones by Nokia. Here we take up some patents of Apple used in the lawsuit.

Apple has listed 11 HTC devices as infringing its Patents which include Google’s Nexus One (), HTC Tilt, HTC Hero, HTC Touch Pro , HTC Touch Pro 2, , HTC Tilt 2, HTC Pure, HTC Imagio , HTC Dream (TMobile G1) , HTC myTouch , Eris , .

The ‘849 Patent, entitled “Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image,” was duly and legally issued on February 2, 2010 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the ‘849 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit C.

And with Software patents the question of “Too Generic patents” arises, for instance Apple is suing HTC with a patent for Unlocking Device with a swipe across the lock, and virtually making sure no one else uses a similar UI, or end up paying thousands in patent charges. Since this feature is a purely Software based and nothing specific to Apple Hardware, this may not stand in a cour battle.

Imagine if someone Patents the displaying of a clock in the mobile (ie a Software clock), by saying “Displaying clock with Digits and Special characters”. Again unlocking a device using the swipe is not exactly as normal as use of a clock, but way before Apple’s , I have seen laptops with fingerprint readers using a similar approach, though not on a touch screen. But it definitely appears to be a intuitive way of unlocking with fingers, and still US Patent office granted a patent for Apple.

And the other patent which makes mockery of the patent system is

The ‘453 Patent, entitled “Conserving Power By Reducing Voltage Supplied To An Instruction-Processing Portion Of A Processor,” was duly and legally issued on June 3, 2008 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the ‘453 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit H.

Well anyone with half the brain can sense what is cooking here, maybe Apple is trying to apply patent for anything that hasnt been patented. Reducing the Power consumption of a processor when the device is in idle mode is a technique used my almost all Computer devices. And still Apple gets a patent on this too.

And many of the patents (among the 10) Apple is using to sue HTC are so generic, that they are more like software concepts, but Apple has applied it for Mobile devices. Part of the problem could be US patent laws, and its interpretation in Software context. Either there should be a separate Patent Laws for Software, or a separate industry body needs to be created for approving and Monitoring Software Patents to weed out the Fakes from real innovations .  Here is the list of Patents Apple is using to Sue HTC

(Patent list thanks to CNET News)

• The ‘331 Patent, entitled “Time-Based, Non-Constant Translation Of User Interface Objects Between States,” was duly and legally issued on April 22, 2008 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

• The ‘949 Patent, entitled “Touch Screen Device, Method, And Graphical User Interface For Determining Commands By Applying Heuristics,” was duly and legally issued on January 20, 2009 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the ‘949 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit B.

• The ‘849 Patent, entitled “Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image,” was duly and legally issued on February 2, 2010 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the ‘849 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit C.

• The ‘381 Patent, entitled “List Scrolling And Document Translation, Scaling, And Rotation On A Touch-Screen Display,” was duly and legally issued on December 23, 2008 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the ‘381 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit D.

• The ‘726 Patent, entitled “System And Method For Managing Power Conditions Within A Digital Device,” was duly and legally issued on July 6, 1999 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the ‘726 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit E.

• The ‘076 Patent, entitled “Automated Response To And Sensing Of User Activity In Portable Devices,” was duly and legally issued on December 15, 2009 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the ‘076 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit F.

• The ‘105 Patent, entitled “GMSK Signal Processors For Improved Communications Capacity And Quality,” was duly and legally issued on December 8, 1998 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the ‘105 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit G.

• The ‘453 Patent, entitled “Conserving Power By Reducing Voltage Supplied To An Instruction-Processing Portion Of A Processor,” was duly and legally issued on June 3, 2008 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the ‘453 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit H.

• The ‘599 Patent, entitled “Object-Oriented Graphic System,” was duly and legally issued on October 3, 1995 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the ‘599 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit I.

• The ‘354 Patent, entitled “Object-Oriented Event Notification System With Listener Registration Of Both Interests And Methods,” was duly and legally issued on July 23, 2002 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A copy of the ‘354 Patent is attached hereto as Exhibit J.

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