Apple Taps ITC to Kneecap Google

Apple (s aapl) has enlisted the patent court and the U.S. International Trade Commission in an effort to kneecap Google (s goog). The company this morning filed a lawsuit against HTC — which makes Google’s Nexus One, among other Android handsets — claiming the Taiwanese manufacturer has infringed on 20 of its patents “related to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware.” But the move may have more to do with Android’s rapid growth than actual patent sins.
Apple is no stranger to the patent court, of course. The company became wrapped up in a nasty tangle with Nokia (s nok) after the Finnish manufacturer sued Apple late last year in an apparent effort to collect royalties from every iPhone sold. But today’s filing appears to be an attempt to slow Android, which has gained remarkable momentum in recent months. HTC offers the widest array of Android handsets of any manufacturer, as Kevin noted at jkOnTheRun this morning, and its Nexus One is the latest handset to be dubbed a potential “iPhone killer.” Throwing a legal hurdle at Android’s most prolific manufacturer appears to be an effort to slow Google’s roll in mobile.
And Apple’s decision to file in both the patent courts and with the ITC ensures that the lawsuit could result in an injunction barring HTC from importing its phones to the U.S. The ITC can halt imports of an infringing device into the U.S. if patents have indeed been infringed, and it doesn’t have to abide by later court rulings either. That’s a pretty big stick to swing at HTC and Google.
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Google’s Mobile Strategy: Understanding the Nexus One

Image courtesy Flickr user attack the darkness.