The iPhone is the template for the modern smartphone. Its UI, App Store, and looks each have spawned dozens of look, act, and sell-alikes. But that may be the problem. Apple patented many aspects of its UI and from yesterday, have embroiled themselves in a battle with HTC (and by analogue, Google) in an effort to protect their innovations. If they can successfully defend their patents, it will be a major win for Apple, but also for software lawsuits in general which have never faired as well in debating the finer points of design and intellectual property.
Apple are constantly embroiled in legal affairs: whether battling their own ground or anothers’, they are a veteran in both offence and defence. Still, this lawsuit may take years to settle. Apple’s language to the ITC regarding HTC (tongue twister) is harsh: they demand all handsets to be banned from sale in the United States of America because of the violation of 20 of their patents.
Apple reckon HTC to have violated following: “software architectures, frameworks, and implementations, including various aspects of software used to implement operating systems”. Time will tell, but the outcome of this lawsuit will spell a lot of movement in the handset market. If thwarted, Apple will face competition who increasingly care cut from the same cloth. If however, their lawsuit is successful, smartphone handsets may be doomed to stylus tracing and hardware keyboards forever.