Apple's Patent Portfolio Manager Exiting as HTC and Samsung Disputes Simmer
While Apple finds itself embroiled in a number of intellectual property disputes both on both offensive and defensive fronts, Reuters reports that Chip Lutton, who oversees the company's significant patent portfolio, will be leaving the company. Lutton is apparently being replaced by HP lawyer BJ Watrous.
It was unclear why Richard "Chip" Lutton Junior, who manages the iPhone maker's patent portfolio, is leaving the company.
However, BJ Watrous, a former deputy general counsel with Hewlett Packard, is now listed as Apple's chief IP counsel on Watrous's LinkedIn web page.
Two of Apple's highest-profile patent disputes involve HTC and Samsung, major players in the smartphone market who primarily rely on Google's Android operating system. Apple and HTC have been embroiled in a dispute dating back well over a year, but several developments over the past week indicate that the situation is heating up. Last week, HTC agreed to acquire S3 Graphics, a firm which just days earlier had won a preliminary patent judgment against Apple, potentially giving HTC more ammunition in its fight against Apple.
And just two days after that, Apple filed a new complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) seeking to blocking imports of HTC's Flyer tablets and Droid smartphones over alleged patent infringement. As noted by AFP, HTC has denied the allegations and expressed its displeasure that Apple has chosen to compete in the courts rather than letting things play out in the market.
"HTC is disappointed at Apple's constant attempts at litigations instead of competing fairly in the market," said HTC general counsel Grace Lei in a statement.
"HTC strongly denies all infringement claims raised by Apple in the past and present and reiterates our determination and commitment to protect our intellectual property rights," she said.
The situation with Samsung continues to escalate as well, with the two sides filing opposing complaints with the ITC over the past couple of weeks seeking to have imports of each others' mobile products blocked. Samsung has also asked that at least some of Apple's lawyers be removed from the case due to potential conflicts of interest and confidentiality concerns given that a number of Apple's lawyers had previously represented Samsung.
The dispute between Apple and Samsung, one of Apple's major suppliers in addition to being a significant competitor, holds major implications for both companies, with Apple reportedly considering a shakeup of its suppliers in order to reduce its reliance on Samsung.