HTC Countersues, Demands Apple Mobile Devices Be Banned

Taiwanese smartphone player HTC fired back at Apple today, suing the iPhone maker for patent infringement, claiming the company is in violation of five HTC patents.

The move follows Apple's own lawsuit against HTC, which manufactures a number of Android- and Windows Mobile devices. But in its own countersuit against Apple, HTC added the twist of asking the U.S. International Trade Commission to ban sales of iPhones, iPads and iPods in the United States.

In a complaint filed with the ITC, HTC accused Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) of infringing on its patents related to cell phone directory hardware and software and to power management technology in portable devices. The patents involve technology that helps devices like the iPhone manage power and handle phone directories, while another cover the ability for the iPad to store data when in sleep mode, among other applications.

"We are taking this action against Apple to protect our intellectual property, our industry partners, and most importantly, our customers that use HTC phones," Jason Mackenzie, vice president for HTC North America, said in a statement.

HTC is seeking a ban on importation, marketing and sale of Apple's mobile devices in the United States, since Apple products are made in China.

Apple did not return requests for comment.

HTC isn't the only smartphone manufacturer sparring with Apple. The Cupertino, Calif.-based PC and mobile devices maker is involved in a similar legal imbroglio with Nokia. Apple sued Nokia for patent infringement last December, and Nokia countersued later that month, claiming Apple infringed on Nokia patents not only in the iPhone, but in the iPod and even iMac computer.

It's becoming a common tactic to go to the ITC and request a ban on imports, given the volume of products that are designed in America but built overseas, usually in Asia. Like HTC, Nokia also asked for a ban on the importation of Apple products in its countersuit.

Gerry Purdy, principal analyst for mobile and wireless with MobileTrax, thinks there's a little chest-thumping on HTC's part in this suit.

"I think HTC has another element going on," he told InternetNews.com. "In their corporate life, HTC has been a second-tier OEM player. With their new plan for HTC's brand to be co-marketed with wireless operators, it seems to me that part of this is about HTC being able to stand up to the big guys like Nokia and RIM and Apple and say we're a member of the major community. I think a lot of this is HTC saying we're as important and as big as Nokia."

But in the end, he figures the two combatants will settle, like virtually every other patent infringement lawsuit. "When they start down this path of IP salvos, [companies] often claim they will take it all the way to the Supreme Court, but they end up finding a way to get settled," he said. "The end result is around market opportunity."

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Android, iPhone, Apple, HTC, patent suit