Saturday, February 04, 2012

Apple Versus HTC

… and by proxy Google

Ken Ray with a good summary of a recent ruling from the ongoing Apple–HTC patent dispute. Andy Rubin's early career at Apple and his current role leading Android development seems likely to bite Google in the rear.

Patent Wars & Microsoft, Buyer of iPads:

U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Posner has issued an interpretation saying not only is HTC in violation of the Apple patent, the Apple patent looks pretty solid.

Now I’d imagine some of you have zoned out because it sounds like just another of the countless fights between Apple and other phone makers. But I need you to snap out of it. At least on this one. Because it looks like this could conceivably affect the whole Android ecosystem.

You know how we’ve heard that Apple’s suits against HTC and Samsung are really attacks against Google without actually attacking Google? Here’s the thing: The “263 patent” is not a layer added by HTC. It’s at the core of the Android operating system. An operating system guided by Andy Rubin, who just happens to have worked in the department at Apple that pioneered the technology that led to the patent in question.

Quoting the piece, “Apple argued that Rubin ‘began his career at Apple in the early 1990s and worked as a low-level engineer specifically reporting to the inventors of the ‘263 [realtime API] patent at the exact time their invention was being conceived and developed.’”

Mueller thinks, with the new guidance by Judge Posner, a jury would be likely to acknowledge not only the validity of Apple’s patent, but also HTC’s infringement of it. And, with the dots connected by Apple illustrating Rubin’s early work at Appel to his status as head of Android today, the win might not be infringement but willful infringement — which could, of course, be worse for Google and the whole Android ecosystem.

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