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Here is a article from SFgate.com.

“Apple’s patent lawsuit last week against Taiwanese smart phone manufacturer HTC was just one complaint aimed at a rival trying to outdo the iPhone.

But the case shines a new light on the growing use of technology patents to mark turf and battle competitors in the fast-growing field of mobile.

Experts are unclear on Apple’s ultimate intent in suing HTC, whether it’s to explicitly stamp out what it calls theft by HTC or to sound a warning to the entire smart phone industry – including newfound rival Google – that it could be coming for them next. But analysts and observers agree that intellectual property litigation in this arena is heating up, and consumers could eventually be affected by the growing friction.

“I’m seeing more, larger patent cases in the last couple years,” said Paul Andre, a partner with law firm King & Spaulding. “It does appear that companies that were more hesitant to file lawsuits in the past are filing today.”

For years, patents have been a way of life for technology companies, which amassed them as a defense against competitors. There have been eras of heavy litigation such as during the early personal computer years and occasional clashes of behemoths such as Intel vs. AMD.

But in most cases, corporations have been content to avoid using their patents in draining battles that can stretch for years. Apple, for example, hasn’t filed a major patent suit in many years.

But the rise of smart phones has touched off a new land rush as companies jockey for position. Before Apple sued HTC, Nokia sued Apple in October, prompting a countersuit from Apple. Apple was also sued last year for its multitouch technology by a Taiwanese firm. Kodak sued Apple and BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion in January for camera phone patents.

“It’s economics. There’s a ton of money flowing into the mobile space; it’s the new platform,” said Jason Schultz, director of the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley. “Laptops, many think, are a thing of the past. Anytime you have a platform shift, you’re going to have a lot of lawsuits over who owns the platform.”

Schultz said previous cell phone patent suits have focused largely on hardware. But with smart phones evolving with sophisticated operating systems, companies are finding a whole new set of patents to tap.

In Apple’s case against HTC, 14 of the patents deal with user interface and six are concerned with the lower-level operating system.

Protecting their turf

Clement Roberts, a founding law partner at Durie Tangri, said companies seem to be turning to patents to protect their territory and keep competitors on their toes. In the case of Apple, he said the company is probably singling out HTC to eliminate a more vulnerable competitor but also give the industry pause as it tries to follow in Apple’s footsteps.

“If you just cause everyone in the industry to become aware of eight to 10 patents and everyone has to design around them, you lengthen the product (development) time frame for everyone else,” Roberts said. “That can have an enormous indirect benefit to Apple and you can earn back the cost of the litigation tenfold.”

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