Posted by Greg Mills
HTC, reeling from the first actual finding that Android infringes upon the Apple iOS has seen its stock slide. HTC announced it intends to buy back as many as 20,000,000 shares of its stock to support the value.
It has been suggested that HTC and the other Android handset makers need to simply find a workaround for the infringed Apple technology. What those who suggest that a workaround will solve the problem really don’t understand what is going on. The patents HTC was found to have infringed are older, much less significant patents than the ones yet to be heard.
One of the infringed patents relates to the software trick where web URLs and phone numbers are identified within text, they are colored and underlined then they then automatically become clickable links. This was a patent Apple already had in the portfolio when iPhone was developed.
When you click on a URL discovered in the text, Safari is opened to the site you clicked from within the text. When a phone number is clicked, the phone screen comes on and asks if you want to call the phone number you clicked. Android does the exact same thing and that is patented Apple technology.
The second infringed patent relates to a data transmission system used in the Android OS that was described by an earlier Apple patent. Google considered Apple technology to be open source and it wasn’t open source it was patented Apple technology.
Existing HTC Android phones can’t just be fixed by some sort of software work around and may well be banned from the USA. HTC’s only hopes are winning an appeal or blackmailing Apple with a patent of their own purchased for just that purpose.
If the two patents cited weren’t bad enough, there are a lot more patents that are much more recent, patents that were specifically drawn up to protect the iOS from Android. Apple’s head start in filing smartphone patents to do the cool tricks iPhone and iPad do have been heavily patented and that enormous body of intellectual property will certainly come to play as this all shakes out.
Even if HTC and the rest of the Android handset crew were able to work around the two patents found to be infringed so far, there are a lot more to be addressed. If Android fixes these first two problems and launches non-infringing smartphones to get around the trade blockade the US International Trade Commission grants Apple, there is reason to expect further findings of infringement thus killing the newer Android phones as well. Talk about flummoxed….
Look for Android handset makers to abandon that “bag of hurt” mobile OS and go with Microsoft’s new Mobile OS. Android may well have peaked. Should Apple sue Android into extinction, I think Apple’s iPhone and iPad will capture the lion’s share of the smartphone market as iPhone will be pretty much the only show in town. There will still be competition, but with Android out of the way, Apple will regain and keep a hammer lock on the market. That’s Greg’s Bite