Apple turns the flamethrower on Android
If you tolerate this your handset will be next
Analysis The details of Apple's patent offensive are now public, and it's clear that while HTC is the target, it's Google's Android that has got Cupertino so annoyed.
The patents on which Apple is claiming infringement include obvious things such as the use of a gesture to unlock and rotate the screen based on device orientation, but they also cover deeper concepts such as thread-to-thread communication and interactions between an object-orientated GUI and a procedurally developed OS.
The case has been filed in Delaware, and with the US International Trade Commission (ITC); the latter in the hope of getting a ban on US imports of infringing equipment. The filings don't cover the same portfolio: nine patents are referenced in the Delaware filing, while ten different patents are cited in the submission to the ITC. But if even a few of the patents are upheld, then the way that non-Apple users interact with their phones is going to have to change, with computer users following soon afterwards.
The ITC filing starts out with a page saying how wonderful Apple is - backed up with three later pages explaining what a great American company Apple is - which is contrasted with a single paragraph describing HTC as a manufacturer, importer and seller of mobile communications devices: setting the stage for our plucky American innovator to be ambushed from abroad.
We then get down to the patents, and the attested infringements. Many of these are software processes, and thus only infringed when someone runs the software. That (arguably) clears Google, even HTC is accused of "inducing the infringement of these patents by end users of their products", though HTC's sale of devices loaded with patent-infringing software (Android) implicates the company.
The patents themselves cover the use of a proxy object to communicate between threads, enabling an object-orientated GUI to access OS resources even if the OS isn't OO, packaging a media object with a URL of the codec needed to play it back and even detecting a phone number in an email (or elsewhere) so the user can tap it to dial.
Some of these patents are pretty old: that last example dates from 1996 and will expire in another six years, while the following only has another four years to run but would seem, at a glance, to cover any event-driving environment at all:
A system in which a software module called an event consumer can indicate an interest in receiving notifications about a specific set of events, and it provides an architecture for efficiently providing notifications to the [event] consumer
Given that most of the patents cover processes used by software, one might hope that Europe would be outside their influence, but the experts tell us that this isn't the case: if the patent makes the computer do something it couldn't do before, then the patent can be just as valid on this side of the pond.
The Delaware filing is a little more clear-cut: patents covering such things as the use of a gesture (such as sliding a finger) to unlock the handset, smooth animations between user screens, stepping down the power on a "digital camera device" and sensing the orientation of the device. There are some more technical ones covering an OO graphics library and improved signal processing, and all of them are pretty technical in their details.
Next page: Digging in the wrong place?
Dear Apple: Fuck off and die.
Yes, you "pioneered home computing" or some such back in the day -- but now you're just another patent-trolling innovation-stifling waste of space.
To all those that have bought Apple products in the last few years: Thanks a fucking bunch you selfish morons -- you helped to fund this shit which will cost us non-Apple customers for years to come.
Blatant posturing to try and force money out of HTC or HTC out of the market. Winning this case would just destroy Apple. If Apple win then in order to enforce the win they would need to pursue all the other phone vendors. Not only that from the look of the patents they would also need to pursue other companies in other fields. This could easily end up with Maemo being a target in which case you're right back at Nokia invented GSM and Apple never licensed it. Say bye bye to the jesus phone. Knowingly infringed with triple damages and that cash pile Apple is say on will start to reduce fast.
Add in Google, Motorola, Microsoft, Nokia, IBM, Palm, Oracle (Sun), Xerox (Who invented the GUI), HP, Dell, Sony, etc. Who exactly do Apple think they are going to sue and where do they expect it to end. This is a massive losers move of a case where Apple are hoping that HTC fold under pressure. Given that Formosa plastics own HTC I cannot see that happening too fast. Even if it does expect none of the Asian countries to obey the rulings. I would be amazed if Europe upholds this nonsense.
Expect this to be no more than news for the sake of news. It will go no-where. Best case scenario - all Apple patents are thrown out. Hilariously this would leave Apple well in the firing line of Nokia, Palm and RIM. Apple are betting a lot on HTC backing off.
Plea to Formosa plastics:
Stand up to Apple and their crap. Make this Apple's greatest folly and show that their patents aren't worth anything. Not only will we gain more innovation from it, but companies and entrepreneurs will feel free to innovate again.
It's a complete f*cking joke that someone gave Apple a patent for the Observer design pattern. Almost every piece of major software is highly likely to already use the Observer pattern - are Apple now going to sue Microsoft for using it in every Office Application, or in Windows in general, or in Linux, or in every web browser on the market, etc. etc. What a complete and utter farce!!!