updated 06:15 pm EDT, Wed September 7, 2011
HTC uses Google-Motorola deal to hit Apple
(Update: patents outlined) HTC stepped up its counters to Apple's lawsuits by suing Apple again in a Delaware court. The claim alleges violation of four patents that Google had transferred to HTC's ownership just days earlier, on September 1. The four had originally been granted to Motorola and were the offshoot of the $12.5 billion merger, although Google hasn't closed the deal and would have had to get a separate, voluntary handover.
The Taiwan smartphone designer also altered its ITC dispute with Apple to take advantage of five patents also obtained from Google. Two of these were first owned by Palm before it joined HP, and three had been owned by frequent lawsuit filer Openwave.
HTC's new case is likely intended to mitigate its loss to Apple at the ITC and the realization that it might see some of its products banned if it can't win an appeal. Apple already has a second ITC dispute underway along with separate civil cases.
The new lawsuit underscores a turnaround in Google's approach to patents. At first, it tried a purely defensive tone where it portrayed itself as a victim but appeared to be taking little action other than words. Without any direct profit from Android unless it completes its buyout of Motorola, Google can't sue others for damages. Having its own patent portfolio at least gives it a defensive tool for partners and leverage to go on the attack, whether itself or through third parties.
Update: An exploration has detailed the Motorola patents given to Google. They relate mostly to cellular radio firmware and include methods for upgrading a modem's firmware, talking between master and slave devices, a delay management technique to make a preference when one isn't already set, and a way to get software from a modem to a computer.
The five patents obtained from other companies include a zoomed view of input from a phone keypad, a "hypermedia identifier" input method, two patents covering a status bar that allows user interaction, and one for a generic "dynamic display for communication devices." Some of these patents have traded hands multiple times, including France's Purple Labs and Myriad.