August 16, 2011 7:35 pm

HTC files fresh lawsuit against Apple

Taiwan’s HTC on Tuesday filed a fresh lawsuit against Apple in the US, in an escalation of the legal battle between the two smartphone makers.

The case, filed in Delaware’s US District Court, alleges that Apple infringed three of HTC’s patents through its sale of devices including iPads, iPods, iPhones and Macintosh computers.

It comes a day after Google announced plans for a $12.5bn acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a move seen by some handset makers that depend on Google’s Android software as helping protect them against patent disputes.

Google had complained that the acquisition by Apple and others of a trove of Nortel Networks patents in July threatened to stifle innovation in Android devices.

The smartphone patent wars

Patent Wars

Patent wars are raging in the smartphone industry. This interactive graphic shows the technology companies involved in patent lawsuits and licensing agreements.

Apple had previously scored one of the largest blows against a handset maker using Android when the US International Trade Commission issued a preliminary ruling finding that HTC had infringed two of Apple’s patents. The decision still requires the support of the ITC’s commissioners.

Apple had sued HTC in the same Delaware court in July over four patents. Apple declined to comment on Tuesday beyond referring to its statement from the previous suit.

The cases are part of an expanding web of legal disputes between players in the fast-growing smartphone industry including Microsoft, Samsung and others.

In recent months, HTC has been strengthening its own patent position by embarking on a string of acquisitions, most notably of S3 Graphics, a mobile video company that had itself won a preliminary ruling against Apple in the ITC court.

The latest HTC suit said the company had acquired some of the patents at issue, which include one governing the interaction of personal digital assistants and wireless communications devices.

Meanwhile, a German court on Tuesday lifted most of a preliminary injunction it had imposed last week that prevented the sale of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 in all countries of the European Union except the Netherlands, writes Reuters in London.

Apple, maker of the popular iPad tablet, had sought the barring of the sale of the Tab in Europe, claiming that it infringed its design rights.

The ruling by the Düsseldorf regional court on Tuesday means Samsung can sell its latest tablet computer in most of Europe again.

The court said it was questionable whether its authority extended to international companies operating outside Germany, so it restricted a preliminary ban imposed last week on Samsung Electronics to Germany.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab line of tablet computers is considered the most credible alternative to Apple’s iPad, which has taken the market by storm, selling about 30m since its launch a year and a half ago.

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