Apple: At My Signal, Unleash Hell …
“We’ve been pushing the state-of-the-art in every facet of design….We’ve been innovating like crazy for the last few years on this and we’ve filed for over 200 patents for all of the inventions in iPhone. And we intend to protect them.”
Asked for his thoughts on iPhone rivals during a January 2009 earnings call, Apple COO Tim Cook said the company would not stand for having its intellectual property ripped off.
“We are watching the landscape,” Cook said. “We like competition, as long as they don’t rip off our IP, and if they do, we’re going to go after anybody that does….We think competition is good; it makes it us all better. But we’re ready to suit up and go against anyone.”
Well, looks like Apple (AAPL) is suiting up, and against a big opponent. This morning, the iPhone maker filed suit against HTC, a Taiwanese handset manufacturer that makes a number of Android smartphones, including the operating system’s marquee device, Google’s Nexus One (Read the suits in their entirety here.)
In a lawsuit filed concurrently with the U.S. International Trade Commission and U.S. District Court in Delaware, Apple alleges that HTC infringed some 20 patents related to the iPhone’s graphical user interface, underlying architecture and hardware. The company is asking for a permanent injunction barring HTC from importing or selling infringing phones in the U.S., along with triple damages and maximum interest.
“We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a press release announcing the action. “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”
HTC appears to have been totally blindsided by the suit. As of this writing, it hasn’t even been served.
“We only learned of Apple’s actions based on Apple’s press release,” the company said in a statement. “We have not been served any papers yet so we are in no position to comment on the claims. We respect and value patent rights but we are committed to defending our own innovations. We have been innovating and patenting our own technology for 13 years.”
It’s not yet clear whether Google (GOOG) is implicated here. But it certainly seems possible. After all, HTC manufactures a number of Android devices, and while Google insisted at the Nexus One launch that it didn’t design the device, the search giant clearly played a role in its development.
Of course, it could be that Apple is suing HTC because it can’t, for some reason, sue Google. More details to follow once I’ve read through the suits.