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Taiwan Android maker battling Apple
Published 2010-06-03
Caught up in a battle between industry giants, the Taiwanese maker of Google's Android handsets filed a patent infringement counterclaim against Apple in mid May asking that the sale of the iPhone, iPad and iPod be halted in the United States.

In the complaint filed with the United States International Trade Commission (USITC), HTC Corp claims that Apple violated five of its patents.

"As the innovator of the original Windows Mobile PocketPC Phone Edition in 2002 and the first Android smartphone in 2008, HTC believes the industry should be driven by healthy competition and innovation," Jason McKenzie, vice-president of HTC North America, said in a brief statement on the company's website.

"We are taking this action against Apple to protect our intellectual property, our industry partners, and most importantly, our customers."

The claim follows Apple's legal action against HTC with the USITC and in US District Court in Delaware in early March. Apple says HTC's Android phones that run on Google's software infringe on 20 of its patents.

Some of Apple's products are made on the Chinese mainland.

"We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it," Apple's company website quoted CEO Steve Jobs saying. "We've decided to do something about it."

"We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours," Jobs said.

The Taiwan company has close relations with Apple's major competitors Google and Microsoft, as it initially made smartphones based primarily on Microsoft's Windows Mobile software, and later extended cooperation with Google on Android phones.

"We are not a party to this lawsuit. However, we stand behind our Android operating system and the partners who have helped us to develop it," cited a "short-but-sweet statement" from a Google spokesperson saying.

Despite the ongoing battle between Microsoft and Google over Web browsers, search portals and other computer technology, Microsoft is providing HTC with patent coverage, which it says protects the Android phone.

In April it signed an "agreement that provides broad coverage under Microsoft's patent portfolio for HTC's mobile phones running Android mobile platform", according to a statement posted on Microsoft website in late April.

"HTC and Microsoft have a long history of technical and commercial collaboration, and today's agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercial arrangements that address intellectual property," Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice-president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft, said in the statement.

"That deal, in essence, gave HTC some legal heft in its battle with Apple," Zdnet cited its Editor in Chief Larry Dignan as saying.

HTC's shipments of smart phones using Google's Android operating system increased 105 percent to more than 2.84 million sets in the first quarter of this year, 5.1 percent of the global market, ranking it fourth behind Nokia, RIM and Apple, according to a market data from technology analyst house Canalys.