Ina Fried

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HTC Calls Apple the Copycat

As part of its latest legal moves with Apple, Taiwanese cellphone maker HTC is bringing fresh patent claims in both Delaware federal court and before the U.S. International Trade Commission.

In this action — the latest in an ongoing dispute between the two sides — HTC alleges that a host of Apple computers and mobile devices infringe on three of HTC’s patents relating to Wi-Fi and other capabilities. Apple fired the first shot last year when it sued HTC, and the two sides have been trading charges ever since.

One of the challenging things for viewers at home is that both sides of any patent dispute almost invariably sue each other, with each side insisting it is the aggrieved party. In the global business of wireless devices, this also often means filings in jurisdictions across the globe. One needs a scorecard just to keep track of who is suing whom, let alone trying to determine who has the better case.

And, of course, the parties themselves are little help. Take, for example, these comments from HTC general counsel Grace Lei.

“This is the third case before the ITC in which Apple is infringing our intellectual property,” Lei said. “Apple needs to stop its infringement of our patented inventions in its products.”

Now, while a very inventive company in its own right, HTC is a relative newcomer, possessing far fewer patents than many of its rivals, including Apple. The company recently bulked up its position somewhat with the purchase of S3, which had recently won a preliminary ITC ruling that some of Apple’s non-iOS products infringed its patents.

But, in perhaps a truer indication of its position, HTC has said it is also open to reaching a deal with Apple.

An Apple representative did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Some hold out hope that this current period of litigation will eventually be replaced by settlements and understandings of who owes what to whom. In the meantime, it remains full employment season for intellectual property attorneys.

For those who want to read the full filing and judge for themselves, here is HTC’s latest complaint.

2011.08.16 Complaint

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— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google