Google jumps off the fence as HTC launches another legal battle with Apple

The complaint concerns the nine patents brought last week from Google, four originally from Motorola, three from Openware Systems, and two from Palm.  The general counsel of the HTC Corporation, Grace Lei, said: “We are taking this action against Apple to protect our intellectual property, our industry partners, and most importantly our customers that use HTC phones”. Analysts believe the move indicates not just a fight between manufactures but a battle between Android and Apple.

Apple itself is locked in a dispute over patent infringement with South Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung, which like HTC, uses Google’s android mobile operating system. In August, a court in the Netherlands banned Samsung selling three models of its Galaxy smartphones in a number of European countries after Apple filed a claim for patent infringement. Apples claimed Samsung had infringed its patents by copying the design of Apple\’s iPhone and iPad devices. Samsung has countersued Apple, saying it infringed Samsung\’s wireless patents. Analysts say the increasing intensity of the patent wars may lead to Apple\’s rivals HTC, Samsung and Google joining forces.

Google\’s involvement in aiding HTC represents a new front in an industry-wide dispute over smartphone technology.  Until now, Google has been criticised for sitting on the sidelines while its Android partners faced legal action by Apple. In August, HTC filed a legal battle against Apple in the US, alleging that Apple infringed three HTC patents in devices including iPads, iPods, iPhones and Macintosh computers. In July, Apple won a preliminary ruling from the International Trade Commission (ITC) when an administrative judge ruled HTC infringed two of four patents. The full commission is to rule in December on whether it will uphold or reverse the preliminary ruling. Apple has also filed a parallel lawsuit against HTC in a court in the US District Court in Delaware.

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