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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Android started at Apple

In the latest salvo in the legal battle between Apple and HTC, Apple provides an argument to the International Trade Commission that Andy Rubin, now of Google, actually began work on components of Android while at Apple, reports Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents.

The statement from Apple that is included in the complaint is quite interesting:
Mr. Rubin began his career at Apple in the early 1990s and worked as a low-level engineer specifically reporting to the inventors of the ’263 [realtime API] patent at the exact time their invention was being conceived and developed. [...] It is thus no wonder that the infringing Android platform used the claimed subsystem approach of the ’263 patent that allows for flexibility of design and enables the platform to be “highly customizable and expandable” as HTC touts.
The argument is based on the infringement of two patents, including the ’263 “realtime API” patent. Apple says that Rubin was reporting to the creators of that patent at Apple at the very time that they were inventing it. This, they say, provided inspiration for the Android framework.
Apple provided this statement as a clarification that it felt it had to give because HTC had led the commission to believe that Rubin had begun the work on Android at General Magic or Danger. Apple is saying here that Android actually began at Apple. While this may not have any direct bearing on the HTC case, it could have far-reaching effects on future cases that Apple undertakes against Google or any other Android manufacturer like the recently acquired Motorola.
The case stems from an ITC filing by Apple on July 12th that sought the halt of imports on several flagship HTC devices including the HTC Droid Incredible, Droid Incredible 2, Wildfire, T-Mobile mytouch 3G, T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide, T-Mobile G1, T-Mobile G2, Evo 4G, Aria, Desire, Hero, Merge, Inspire 4G, Evo 4G, Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 4G, and the HTC Flyer tablet.
HTC responded to Apple’s infringement claims saying that it was“disappointed at Apple’s constant attempts at litigations”, and that it vowed to protect its intellectual property rights. HTC CEO Peter Chou then said that the smartphone vendor has “enough patents to make a stand”, warning Apple that it could use newly acquired patents from its purchase of S3 Graphics to defend itself. The company then fired back against Apple last month, attempting to get a ban placed on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod and Mac.
Apple is also involved in action against Samsung, having requested a ban on imports of 8 Samsung devices including 6 phones and 2 tablets, asserting that Samsung had violated 5 utility patents and 2 design patents granted to Apple.


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