Speaking at Google's Mobile Revolution conference in Tokyo, former CEO and current executive chairman Eric Schmidt said Apple's present patent infringement case against HTC was inspired by "jealousy" and crafted to permanently unplug the power supply of its current rival, Google's Android.
"The big news in the past year has been the explosion of Google Android handsets and this means our competitors are responding," he said. "Because they are not responding with innovation, they're responding with lawsuits."
Schmidt added that Google is supporting HTC's fight against Apple, and even feels confident that the non-Apple handset maker will win. Friday the U.S. International Trade Commission made an initial ruling that HTC infringed two of four (narrowed down from ten) Apple patents: 5,946,647 and 6,343,263. The former patent reportedly ties into Android, making the ruling the first to actually determine that Google's OS infringes on other patents.
According to the patent 5,946,647 listing, Apple describes a "system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer." The ITC claims that HTC violates claims 1, 8, 15 and 19 of the ’647 patent. If that's the case, then other handset makers using Google's Android OS have stepped on Apple's toes as well.
But HTC said that it plans to appeal the ruling, and according to Eric Schmidt, will be backed by Google itself. "HTC will vigorously fight these 2 remaining patents through an appeal before the ITC Commissioners who make the final decision,” HTC general counsel Grace Lei said in a statement. “We are highly confident we have a strong case for the ITC appeals process and are fully prepared to defend ourselves using all means possible."
The ITC's initial ruling is still subject to review by the full six-member ITC commission. The final decision will be made in December.
During his presentation, Schmidt said that more than 135 million Android phones have been activated since the OS made its debut back in 2008. 410 models are currently available from popular handset makers including HTC, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson. In May, Google claimed that 400,000 Android devices were being activated on a daily basis. Now Google sees more than 550,000 Android devices activated daily.
"We have not done anything wrong and these lawsuits are just inspired by our success," he said.