ITC Staff Hints Trade Court May Rule Against Apple in HTC, Nokia Patent Cases

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Although a ruling on Apple’s patent-infringement complaints against HTC and Nokia won’t be announced until August, we already know the Washington, DC-based U.S. International Trade Commission staff is recommended coming down on the side of the two handset makers. The non-binding staff opinion became public at the start of the ITC trial.
Apple’s dispute with HTC and Nokia would be the first patent court battle involving Android-based handsets, prompting greater interest. In opening comments comments before ITC Administrative Law Judge Carl Charneski, Apple charged its not what you see, “but what’s under the hood” that makes the Cupertino, Calif. company’s products so successful.

The iPhone maker claims HTC infringed upon five patents necessary for the “seamless integration of hardware and software” used by smartphones,” according to lawyer Greg Arovas of Kirkland & Ellis. HTC responded that Apple’s patents protected “at best, a very narrow distinction” from other technology. The disputed patents reportedly cover signal processing and inter-process communications created in the early 1990s.
In April 2010, the ITC agreed to review Apple’s case against HTC, which specifically mentioned the Nexus One and mytouch smartphones. HTC responded by suing Apple, accusing the company of violating five patents.
A separate claim against Nokia is expected to be decided by June 24. The claim brought by Apple was initiated only after Nokia came to the iPhone maker for royalties, accused a lawyer for the Finnish-based handset giant.
The legal battle between Apple and Nokia has a history stretching for years. In 2009, Nokia sued Apple, claiming the iPhone infringed GSM and other wireless patents. In March, the ITC ruled Apple had not infringed five Nokia patents. However, Nokia filed more patent infringement claims against the tech giant, this time accusing a number of Apple products – the iPod, iPhone, iPad and Mac.
Apple has been named one of the most-sued technology companies, a title prompting the firm to hire several patent lawyers to assist its internal legal department. The new legal eagles may be needed; Apple and Samsung Monday launched a round of courtroom disputes.