HTC expands legal fight against Apple using Google patents

HTC used patents it bought from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) to extend its patent-infringement suit against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), making the mobile patent battle between Apple and Google that much more explicit. 

In an amended complaint filed in federal court in Delaware Tuesday, HTC said Apple is infringing on eight patents related to wireless communications and mobile phone displays. Five of the patents were ones that Google transferred to HTC, according to documents filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Google confirmed the transfer but declined to comment beyond that, and HTC has not said how much it paid for the patents. Google obtained the patents less than a year ago, with four coming from Motorola Inc. before it split into Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) and Motorola Solutions (NYSE:MSI), three from Openwave Systems and two from Palm, according to patent documents.

An Apple spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The move is the first significant legal action taken by an Android licensee against Apple since Google announced its intentions to acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, partly in a bid to obtain Motorola Mobility's patents and protect Android licensees. After the deal was announced, HTC CEO Peter Chou said it the acquisition "is more to enhance Google's patent portfolio, to support us, to protect us."

In all of the cases that Apple has brought against Android licensees, Apple has not directly targeted Google, but that might change. "Google knows that HTC is under tremendous legal pressure from Apple and clearly on the losing track," intellectual property consultant Florian Mueller told Bloomberg. "This intervention on Google's part increases the likelihood of direct litigation by Apple against Google."

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Reuters article

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