Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Well, Apple, You've Really Done It Now

Apple recently filed suit against HTC (High Tech Computer Corp.) on the charges of patent infringement. Right off the back, it's beginning to sound suspicious. Patent infringement in the technology industry never seems to end well. However, Apple has really gone off with this one. Not only did they complain about patent infringement, but they filed for a permanent injunction with the International Trade Commission on all products, specifically those by HTC, that infringe on their patents. In other words, HTC would no longer be able to even ship their phones to America. What is the problem? Did HTC do anything wrong? And more importantly, why is Apple doing this here and now?

The problem is that HTC is using a number of features that Apple has patented. This includes features like multi-touch touch screens, swiping an unlock image to unlock the phone, object-oriented graphics, and conserving power by reducing the voltage to a certain part of the processor. Most who just read that sentence are probably thinking, "Wait, can you even patent this stuff?" Quite frankly, I'm not too sure. It is ridiculous that Apple is claiming rights to such generic features. It would be like filing a patent for the concept of multiple tabs on a web browser. The patents are too general and abstract. In fact, Apple could effectively use their patents in this method to eliminate their competition and gain a monopoly on touch screen smartphones! Apple could easily take this and go after Motorola, or maybe even Blackberry. The worst part: HTC did not even know about any of this. The Taiwan-based company received no papers on the suit, and only found out about the entire ordeal through online posts much like this one.

So if Apple is filing suit against HTC for ideas it really should not even be able to patent, there must be an ulterior motive, especially since Apple filed a similar suit against Nokia a while back. Quite obviously, Apple is trying to hack away at Google. The now famous Internet search corporation is becoming more and more of a competitor against Apple. The Android operating system that runs on many of HTC's phones is created by Google, and the Android App Store will soon rival that of Apple's App Store. With these facts on the table, Apple seems to be throwing indirect blows at Google, without actually suing the Mountain View company itself. Google even proactively made a statement backing up HTC, one of its primary partners in distributing the Android operating system. Personally, I think Apple is becoming more and more cowardly. If you seriously have something against Google, compete! I'm sure the courts will find some reason to legitimize Apple's current lawsuit, but do they really think this is the right way to take down your competitors? Jobs has just thrown ethics out the window on this one, making it more and more obvious why Schmidt has to resign from Apple's board last year.

In fact, Apple has really been getting on my nerves lately, and this really is the last straw. They have been locking users in for years, crying foul when people jailbroke their iPhones, suddenly restricting pornographic apps from the App Store, almost putting developers out of business, and now suing HTC over features on their iPhone that should not even be allowed to be patented. Steve Jobs' attack on Google's "Don't Be Evil" motto is seeming more and more like a self-defense move to protect Apple from its own wrongdoing. Any Apple fanboys out there that care to comment?


  1. I believe that the patent for multi-touch lies with the gestures, not the screen. I believe the patent lies with the pinch to zoom, and the scrolling mechanism (When you swipe right, you are locked into horizontal motion, and likewise when you swipe vertically. When you swipe diagonally you can freely move.)

    And "Schmidt had* to resign from Apple's board last year."

  2. Woops, must have missed that typo. And if Apple's patents are on hand gestures for the phone, that might be even worse than a patent on a multi-touch touch screen.