HTC Can’t Sue Apple With Google’s Loaner Patents, Says ITC
To the lawyers who concocted it, HTC’s plan to sue Apple with a handful of patents borrowed from Google might have seemed a viable strategy — theoretically. But in practice it is proving a bit of a failure.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has tossed out five Google patents assigned to HTC to assert against Apple in the pair’s legal battle. Administrative Judge Thomas Pender ruled that HTC doesn’t have the right to file a lawsuit based on patents it has borrowed from Google in the hopes of winning a ban on the import of the iPhone and iPad. In doing so he has effectively hamstrung HTC’s case and, more importantly, gutted Google’s strategy of loaning out patents to its Android partners to aid them in their IP battles with Apple, without taking Cupertino to the mat itself.
HTC says it will appeal the ruling to the Commission, and there is a chance it could prevail. But if it fails, it will have only the three patents it originally asserted against Apple to wage this particular IP war. So this is a significant blow to the company, and to Google as well. The search giant has gone on record pledging to help Android device manufacturers facing patent litigation. “We tell our partners, including the ones here in Taiwan, we will support them,” Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said last year. “For example, we have been supporting HTC in its dispute with Apple because we think that the Apple thing is not correct.”
But that support doesn’t appear to be surviving legal scrutiny. So what will Google do now?
Google and Apple did not respond to requests for comment.