Filing and facing lawsuits in all directions, Apple has once again raised eyebrows in the mobile industry, and filed a lawsuit against HTC, accusing it of infringing 20 hardware and software patents (specifically user interface processes) related to the iPhone. The phones in question are the Google-powered Android touchscreen phones of HTC, but Google is not named in the lawsuit, which was filed both at the U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.S. District Court in Delaware on Tuesday. The lawsuit seeks to prohibit HTC from selling, marketing or distributing infringing products in the United States, and could potentially cost HTC several 100 million dollars in fines and lost sales.
While this case might never see the light of day, the result of these lawsuits will probably be settlements out-of-court, but not before (as is most likely) HTC or Google file their own countersuits. To quote Eric Von Hippel, a professor at M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management, who said “The social value of patents was supposed to be to encourage innovation — that’s what society gets out of it. The net effect is that they decrease innovation, and in the end, the public loses out.”