HTC fights ‘slide-to-unlock’ in London as Samsung continues patent war with Apple ahead of settlement talks

With court moderated settlement talks between Apple and Samsung executives set to take place within the next 90 days, Samsung has now filed a counterclaim in a California federal court alleging Apple’s iOS devices are infringing eight patents. The counterclaim is part of an original patent infringement lawsuit initiated by Apple in February. Foss Patents reported:

It comes as no surprise that Samsung retaliated with infringement claims. Samsung owns roughly 30,000 U.S. patents. It has from the outset of its dispute with Apple demonstrated its belief that a good offense is the best defense. So far, none of Samsung’s infringement claims against Apple has succeeded anywhere on Earth, despite efforts in nine different countries, but Samsung keeps on fighting.

Apple is also in the middle of patent infringement cases with HTC, which just told a court in London that its touchscreen devices, specifically its “slide-to-unlock” functionality, do not infringe on Apple’s patents. Bloomberg reported today that HTC’s lawyers described the functionality in question as “extremely simple implementations of commonly known techniques.” Apple’s lawyer Simon Thorley argued HTC is “attacking the validity of four patents” and claimed, “It is clear the inventions make the requisite contributions.”

If HTC is successful, it could have an impact in ongoing patent infringement related cases with Apple in Dutch and German courts. The report described the functionality Apple claims is covered in the patents:

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MOG unlimited music hits the iPad ahead of Spotify

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MOG is a Spotify-like service that streams 14 million songs to your devices and allows you to download music for offline viewing. The free version allows you to stream music against advertising. Meanwhile, the $4.99 version allows you to not only listen to ad-free music but also download music. The $9.99/month version allows unlimited downloads on mobile devices. Today, MOG added one new big device to its list: The iPad.

The iPad version (not universal?) hit the App Store today joining the earlier iPhone version. Perhaps, if you like your music on a native iPad-sized app, it is time to move to MOG (14-day free trial here with unlimited downloads).

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Apple becomes the top smartphone vendor in US as Siri helps iPhone 4S outsell iPhone 4 by 75 percent

We saw the Android-iOS duopoly coming last summer. Now, the effects of this incredibly tight chokehold are becoming painfully evident to virtually every handset maker sans Apple and Samsung. According to a fresh NPD survey from this morning, during the fourth quarter of 2011 Android and Apple together accounted for over 90 percent of smartphone sales in the United States. No wonder RIM is sliding fast. The remaining 10 percent is up for grabs.

Apple, which seized the No. 1 crown from Samsung last quarter, and leapt past Samsung and LG to become the best-selling U.S. handset brand, according to NPD. The iPhone maker grabbed 43 percent of all U.S. smartphone sales, while Android devices accounted for 48 percent of devices. First-time buyers prefer Android (57 percent) to iPhone (34 percent). Smartphones in Q4 represented 68 percent of all cell phones in the U.S., up from 50 percent in the year-ago quarter.

Some perspective: HTC today reported fourth-quarter results and blamed Samsung and Apple for a 26 percent income drop. What’s more, HTC devices are nowhere to be seen on NPD’s list of the top five best-selling devices in the U.S.

Read below for more highlights…

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Apple spends hundreds of millions to sue Android makers, is it working?

Newsweek‘s Dan Lyons reported today that Apple’s “thermonuclear war” on Android smartphone manufacturers is fading fast, while a new rumor surfaced among the suits’ lawyers claiming the company spent $100 million on its initial set of claims against HTC.

Imagine how much Apple spent on other Android makers, such as Motorola (who is near locking Apple products out of Germany in retaliation) or Samsung (the biggest Mobile Communications patent holder in the world), if it spent so much on just HTC.

“Who knows if it’s true, but if so, Apple didn’t get a lot for its money,” wrote Lyons on his RealDanLyons’ blog Jan. 23.

Apple’s legal claims are abruptly junked left and right, and its only minor victories to date are so inconsequential that Android device makers can dance around the momentary obstacles with just a few minor tweaks to products, explained the Newsweek reporter.

The technology giant’s case against HTC with the International Trade Commission began in February 2010, when the Cupertino, Calif.-based company wanted the ITC to block HTC from importing products into the United States. The case originally had 84 claims based on 10 patents, but it was dwindled down to only four claims by the time a judge became involved, according to Lyons.

The rulings —for the most part— were a wash for Apple. One patent was invalid as Apple did not have a rightful claim to it, and HTC did not infringe upon two of the other patents due to Apple apparently not implementing them into its products. In other words, Apple did not have a right to seek an injunction, because ITC injunctions can only occur if it is provable that both parties are “practicing” the patent in question, which Apple could not demonstrate against HTC…

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ITC rules: HTC violated Apple patents, some HTC devices banned in US starting April 19 [UPDATED]

UPDATE [Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 7:46am ET]: The article has been updated with a paragraph added to the bottom with a statement from HTC CEO Peter Chou saying his company is “testing” new devices meant to avoid the sales ban.

The International Trade Commission just ruled in favor of Apple in the Apple vs. HTC patent lawsuit regarding mobile devices [PDF document]. HTC was found guilty of violating Apple patent 5946647 that is described by Google Patent Search:

A system and method causes a computer to detect and perform actions on structures identified in computer data. The system provides an analyzer server, an application program interface, a user interface and an action processor. The analyzer server receives from an application running concurrently data having recognizable structures, uses a pattern analysis unit, such as a parser or fast string search function, to detect structures in the data, and links relevant actions to the detected structures. The application program interface communicates with the application running concurrently, and transmits relevant information to the user interface. Thus, the user interface can present and enable selection of the detected structures, and upon selection of a detected structure, present the linked candidate actions. Upon selection of an action, the action processor performs the action on the detected structure.

HTC has violated products. The ruling involved the phone’s software, and it is subject to an import ban on April 19, 2012. The ITC said HTC could continue to ship replacement devices for currently shipped products. Obviously, a ban on certain HTC products is a major blow to the company, and because this is software-based, other Android device manufactures should not be too pleased. You can read the ITC’s full ruling through the The Verge.

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