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Apple Sues HTC, Maker of Nexus One Phones, Over Alleged Patent Infringement

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San Francisco, CAApple announced yesterday that it is suing HTC in Taiwan over an alleged violation of some 20 patents owned by Apple, pertaining to HTC cell phone technology that uses the Google-owned Android operating system. Included in the lawsuit is the Nexus One phone, designed and sold by Google.

The lawsuit, filed on March 2 with the office of the US International Trade Commission and the US District Court in Delaware, alleges that HTC violated a series of patents owned by Apple, including those relating to the iPhone's capacity to recognize the touch of multiple fingers on its screen at once.

"We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We've decided to do something about it," said Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive. "We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."

Introduced in 2007, the iPhone is the first hand-held device to nearly eliminate all mechanical buttons and other physical controls. The suit claims that the specific technology that allows for a cell phone to be operated as touch screen originated with Apple.

Since then, others have attempted to duplicate the look and feel of the iPhone. Research in Motion (RIM, the maker of the Blackberry), Samsung, and HTC, a partner of Google, have all introduced touch screen phones.

Some have said that Apple's litigation is a strike against Google rather than HTC.

"We are not a party to this lawsuit," Google has stated. "However, we stand behind our Android operating system and the partners who have helped us to develop it."

Legal experts have said that the lawsuit hinges on the defendant's ability to prove "prior art" applications that might suggest the innovations Apple is attempting to protect are less unique than claimed. Yesterday's issue of the New York Times points to the Palm, which vended touch-based mobile phones well before the introduction of the iPhone.

HTC said Wednesday in Taipei that it did not believe the lawsuit would have any short-term material impact on its business or would affect its forecast for the first quarter of 2010.



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