When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone in 2007, he briefly mentioned that the final product was the result of hundreds of patents. “And boy have we patented it,” he famously remarked.
Since then, Apple has primarily used its patent portfolio for defensive measures and hasn’t pro-actively initiated lawsuits against competitors. Remember that when the Palm Pre first hit the market, many erroneously thought Apple would sue Palm (and its gaggle of former Apple engineers) for patent infringement.
But the times they are a changin’.
Apple today issued a press release announcing that it was suing handsetmaker HTC for infringing on 20 of its patents relating to the iPhone UI, in addition to the iPhone’s underlying architecture and hardware.
“We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it,” Steve Jobs said in the press release. “We’ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”