Last week a UK Judge ruled in favour of HTC in a patent battle with Apple, representing another courtroom loss for the world’s most profitable company and a blow to its plan of slowing down the competition.
The case surrounded Apple’s claim that HTC had infringed on its photo management patent as well as its slide-to-unlock, multi-touch and multilingual keyboard patents. The Judge ruled that three were invalid and that HTC hadn’t infringed on the fourth. Commenting on the multi-touch patent, a feature that enables two or more fingers to perform different gestures on touchscreen devices, the Judge declared this to be “obviousness over common general knowledge.”
This UK trial follows court cases for Apple in Holland and Germany, both which it lost, as well as the more high profile, ongoing battle in the US against Samsung.
With Android smartphones outselling the iPhone, and more affordable competition being launched into the tablet market, these court cases would suggest that Apple has concerns with maintaining its grip on the market.
The news of an iPad mini being leaked in the same week that Google’s Nexus 7 tablet went on pre-order wasn’t by accident and would suggest that Apple is more than a little apprehensive about staying ahead of the game. Samsung’s Galaxy SIIIis predicted to have sold ten million devices by the end of July and with the new iPhone continuing to exist in rumours and speculation only, the tension has begin to grow in Cupertino.
Launching courtroom battles against companies that infringe on patents it owns is a tactic designed to hamper and slow down the competition as much as wipe them out. With smartphones containing multiple components and features that perform similar tasks, the chances of infringing on a patent are high.
According to Richard Posner, the US Judge that recently threw out Apple’s lawsuit against Google’s Motorola Mobility, it’s all about the constant struggle for survival. Speaking to Reuters, he said that “as in any jungle, the animals will use all the means at their disposal, all their teeth and claws that are permitted by the ecosystem.” Apple is using the system to wound the animal.