You know, there are times when I think that companies spend more on lawyers than they do on developing better products. A case in point is the way that companies will file for patents based on concepts over real technology or buy up others to “strengthen” their position in the market. As an example let’s take a look at the legal battle between HTC and Apple.
According to the story, Apple filed a patent suit against HTC because HTC was in violation of ten core patents that Apple holds. Why did Apple file this? Their premise is that HTC is using their intellectual property and by doing that they are taking revenue away from them. However, when you see this type of suit pop up it is usually more about finding a way to stifle the competition. After all that is exactly that Apple is saying about the Lodsys suit. So Apple files a suit claiming that HTC has violated 10 Patents.
The US International Trade Commission (How can it be international if it is a US Government body) decided that HTC was guilty of violating 2 of those 10 (which HTC is trying to appeal). HTC, for their part are working to fight back by the attempted purchase of S3 Graphics. You see HTC wants this very badly because Apple is rumored to be using several S3 patents without paying. If HTC can get this portfolio then they would have a bargaining chip to work with.
But the purchase of S3 is not yet final so HTC is in a bit of trouble and could be forced to halt sales of certain handsets (the ones that have technology that is in violation of Apple’s Patents). To combat this HTC has now taken to the UK courts. Our guess is that they feel that Apple will not have the upper hand off of their home turf. So now we start another round of legal battles that are intended to delay the halt of HTC sales in the US while HTC pushes forward their attempt to buy S3 and have something they can hold over Apple.
Meanwhile Apple is growing more concerned about the Android movement and is surely dumping more and more money into their legal budget just like HTC. In a normal business the first budget to get cut is the IT budget (I should know having been there). In a technology company the first thing to get slashed is the R&D budget. This means that while HTC and Apple are sending money hand over fist in court their products will suffer. With Apple they will spin these until the masses feel they really wanted this in the first place, while HTC will more than likely just push out refreshed products. In the long run the only ones that suffer are the consumers.
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