Apple’s ongoing legal disputes with a bevy of Android manufacturers took an interesting turn recently. Bloomberg is reporting that HTC on September 1 filed a lawsuit against Apple asserting patents that it recently acquired from, you guessed it, Google.
The report notes that the patents in question were originally acquired by Google less than a year ago from a variety of companies, including 4 from Motorola, three from Openwave Systems, and two from Palm. All told, Google assigned 9 patents to HTC which are now being asserted against Apple.
The four patents from Motorola were the basis of a new HTC suit filed in Delaware while the remaining five were included in an amended complaint with the ITC.
The lawsuit contends the Mac computer, iPhone, iPod, iPad, iCloud and iTunes are infringing patents for a way to upgrade software wirelessly; a way to transfer data between a microprocessor and a support chip; a method to store user preferences, and a way to provide consistent contact between application software and a radio modem.
Almost comically, HTC General Counsel Grace Lei explained that “HTC will continue to protect its patented inventions against infringement from Apple until such infringement stops.”
Oh that’s funny, because I wasn’t sure when purchasing patents for offensive litigation was the same thing as protecting ‘patented inventions.’
What’s interesting about this whole ordeal is that this is the first time we’ve seen Google step up to the plate to defend its OEMs, albeit indirectly.
One obvious question is why didn’t Google just sue Apple directly instead of passing off the patents in question to HTC? Clearly, it’s easier for Google to remain on the sidelines and have each OEM take on Apple independently rather than take on Apple itself.
Further, Google here is exceedingly hypocritical. One minute they’re lambasting the patent system and now apparently they’re snatching up patents and selling them for the purpose of offensive litigation. So Google’s Android strategy seemingly encompasses willful patent infringement protected by the subsequent purchase of patents to assert against the original infringed party.