Apple’s Frenemies: The Patent Wars
While we stand fascinated and focused on the new technology coming out of the major mobile phone manufacturers, the manufacturers themselves are at war: over patents.
Last week, popular mobile phone maker HTC was found guilty of infringing upon two of Apple’s iPhone patents by the US International Trade Commission. However, HTC is appealing; threatening to hit Apple with a bunch of patents they gained when they acquired S3 Graphics. Moreover, according to HTC’s chief executive Peter Chou, they will win. “We have enough patents to make a stand,” he told BBC. He then went on to say that the war over customers should not be fought in the courts, but in the market place.
Meanwhile, on a related front, Apple has its guns aimed at Google, the makers of Android, the operating system used by HTC handsets. Florian Mueller, a patent expert, thinks Apple’s lawsuit against HTC cuts to the core of Android’s “operating system functionalities.” Because of that, he predicts a serious patent problem for “the entire Android ecosystem”.
However, as if that is not enough, Apple is also targeting Samsung Electronics over patent infringement. Samsung is countersuing, claiming that in the US alone, Apple infringes on some of its own patents. (Samsung holds approximately 28,700 patents.)
A top executive at Samsung told BBC that over 50 per cent of the iPhone’s components are made by Samsung. In fact, there are a few hundred engineers installed at Apple’s Cupertino headquarters right now, helping to design the next evolution of the iPhone.
Fortunately for us, despite what happens behind the scenes, smartphone technology continually moves forward. The more they compete; the better for us.