Apple sues HTC again: Will Microsoft come to the rescue?

microsoft-steve-ballmer-fisticuffs

Apple still doesn’t like HTC. On July 8, the Cuppertino company filed its second U.S. patent complaint against the Taiwanese High Tech Computer Corporation, claiming that it has infringed on five patents related to software and user interface design, touch screen hardware, and movement sensors, reports Bloomberg. As it did with Samsung, Apple is seeking to block the import of all infringing HTC devices, with a special emphasis on tablets. This news comes as HTC continues to beat sales and profit expectations due to the success of its Android phones.

Last year, Apple sued HTC accusing it of infringing on 20 patents related to the iPhone. “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,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said regarding the original suit. “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”

The results of the first suit will be issued by a judge on August 5, but a recommendation from the ITC in April found HTC innocent of charges.

“HTC is dismayed that Apple has resorted to competition in the courts rather than the marketplace,” said Grace Lei, HTC’s general counsel. “HTC continues to vehemently deny all of Apple’s past and present claims against it and will continue to protect and defend its own intellectual property as it has already done this year.”

Microsoft to the rescue?

htc-pro-review-windows-phoneHTC admitted that it was blindsided by Apple’s first lawsuit, but it may be prepared for this one. HTC has since signed a huge patent licensing deal with Microsoft, giving it the “broad protection” of Microsoft’s giant pile of patents. The deal, which gives Microsoft $5 for every HTC Android phone sold, was puzzling when it first surfaced in late May, but the pieces may be fitting together now. Hoping to get money from other huge Android manufacturers like Samsung, Microsoft needed a big Android maker like HTC to join its side, and HTC needed protection from the red sea of frivolous patent lawsuits being hurled around the smartphone industry. So they joined forces.

HTC and Microsoft have been partners for about a decade, working together extensively on Windows Mobile in the pre-iPhone era. In exchange for the $5-per-handset fee for every Android phone sold, it’s likely that Microsoft is giving a discount on Windows Phone licensing fees to HTC, among other things. Though it is making most of its money off of Android, HTC is still the most prolific supporter of Windows Phone, having released five WP7 handsets in since the operating system debuted last November–far more than any other manufacturer.

While we do not know exactly what patents Microsoft has and if they overlap with Apple’s, it’s likely that some of them could be of use to HTC in its defense against Apple. After all, if you’re being sued by one of the oldest personal computer companies, what better way to defend yourself than aligning with another giant of the PC world?

And if Microsoft can’t help, why would HTC have caved to its will so easily? This could be a good chance for Microsoft to show the power of its patent portfolio.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Home Theater

Phiaton’s active lifestyle headphones do noise canceling on a budget

Looking for a set of active noise-canceling earbuds that can keep up with your active lifestyle, without breaking the bank? Phiaton's new Curve BT 120 NC could be just the ticket.
Business

Chinese court upholds Qualcomm's complaint that Apple infringed on two patents

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Gaming

Take-Two Interactive takes down another ‘GTA Online’ modder, seeks $150K

Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games have filed a lawsuit against the GTA Online modder behind the software named Elusive. The publisher is continuing its crackdown against GTA Online mods.
Computing

Ryzen 3000 CPUs could be the most powerful ever. Here's what we know

AMD's upcoming Ryzen 3000 generation of CPUs could be the most powerful processors we've ever seen, with higher core counts, greater clock speeds, and competitive pricing. Here's what we know so far.
Mobile

The Galaxy A8s is Samsung's first with a hole-punch camera cutout

Samsung is building exciting, technologically innovative midrange phones, and the latest to be revealed is the new Samsung Galaxy A8s, which may give us an idea of what the new Samsung Galaxy S10 will look like.
Mobile

The best smartphone stocking stuffers for a very techy Christmas

If you've got a tech-loving smartphone enthusiast to buy for, we can help you out. Here's a selection of top phone accessories that would make amazing stocking stuffers so you can have a very Merry Christmas.
Product Review

The Black Shark gaming phone takes a big bite out of your free time, but the software sinks it

The world is being treated to an ever-increasing number of high-powered gaming phones. With so many great options already out, is there room for another? The Black Shark thinks so. But is it any good? We find out.
Mobile

OnePlus's 5G phone should arrive in May 2019, may cost up to $850

OnePlus will be among the first companies to put the new Snapdragon 855 processor into a phone, and will also release a separate and more expensive 5G phone in 2019 with the help of U.K. network EE.
Mobile

Santa Claus is coming to town. Get ready with these Christmas apps

Like it or not, Christmas comes but once a year. Thankfully, we've got a list of the best Christmas apps to help get you into the holiday spirit, just in case you want to call Santa or become a Christmas elf.
Gaming

Xiaomi’s Gamepad 2.0 turns the Black Shark into a mini Switch

Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi has introduced the Gamepad 2.0 for its Black Shark gaming phone that launched earlier this year. The new gamepad is similar to the Switch Joy-Con, with one piece attaching to each side of the phone.
Mobile

Google makes it easy to donate to charity straight through the Play Store

As we head into the holiday season, Google announced a new feature on Google Play that makes it a little easier to donate to charity. Through the new page, you'll be able to choose from a range of charities to donate to.
Wearables

These are the best smartwatches for everything from fashion to fitness

Tempted to buy a smartwatch? If so, then the growing number of great models available means you've got plenty to choose from. But which one should you pick? Here is our list of the best smartwatches.
Mobile

The Galaxy S10 may be announced before MWC, sell for up to $1,750

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Mobile

The LG V40 ThinQ, G7 ThinQ, and Watch W7 are discounted for the holidays

LG announced a series of deals for the holiday season where you can buy the company's two flagship phones, the V40 ThinQ and G7 ThinQ, as well as its latest smartwatch, for between $150 and $200 off, depending on the device.