Google gets its hands dirty

September 8, 2011: 10:58 AM ET

Android's purveyor crossed a line when it sold arms to be used against Apple


U.S. patent No. 6,473,006, "a method and apparatus for zoomed display of characters entered from a telephone keypad," has a long and tangled history.

It was originally filed, according to FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller, by a company called Phone-com, which assigned it to Openwave, which sold it to Purple Labs, which sold it to Myriad, which sold it to Google, which sold it to HTC last week for a price Google has declined to disclose.

On Wednesday, 6,473,006 turned up in a pair of lawsuits -- one filed at the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, the other in a federal court in Delaware -- filed by HTC against Apple (AAPL).

The iPhone, HTC claims, has violated this patent that came to HTC by way of Google, Myriad, Purple Labs, Openwave and Phone-com.

HTC, of course, is suing Apple because it was sued last year by Apple  -- the first of many complaints Apple would  bring against the manufacturers of devices running Google's (GOOG) Android operating system. Apple claimed at the time that HTC had violated 20 of its patents.

Tit for tat, right? Not quite.


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