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.

htc apple samsung logos
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.

Top Rated Comments

bbeagle Avatar
128 months ago
Apple is officially a patent troll. :rolleyes:

:rolleyes: Sigh. Words seem to have lost meaning to some people.

A patent troll is a company who does not make products, like Lodsys, who uses their patents to go after other companies just for money.

Apple is either using patents to protect it's business or to drive others out of business.

Driving others out of business is not necessarily bad. If they own legit patents, it is totally fair to drive others who are doing illegal activities out of business.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RalfTheDog Avatar
128 months ago
I...yes I've used android, I used to work in a phone during my architecture degree.
Big phone or are you just very small? :)
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dustinsc Avatar
128 months ago
:rolleyes: Sigh. Words seem to have lost meaning to some people.

A patent troll is a company who does not make products, like Lodsys, who uses their patents to go after other companies just for money.

Apple is either using patents to protect it's business or to drive others out of business.

Driving others out of business is not necessarily bad. If they own legit patents, it is totally fair to drive others who are doing illegal activities out of business.

I was thinking the exact same thing. Patents are a big thing and are important to allow innovators to profit from their inventions. I honestly don't know if Apple's case against HTC is solid because it depends on a lot of technical stuff, but when someone infringes on a patent, you'd better hope the patent holder goes after them.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kdarling Avatar
128 months ago
Actually, they are seeking an injunction against the Galaxy II s, and Tablet.

Yes, plus some. Apple's lawsuit against Samsung (http://cdn0.sbnation.com/podcasts/apple-samsung-lawsuit.pdf) objects to more than just the Galaxy models:

"Samsung has imported into or sold in the United States the following products, each of which infringes one or more of Apple’s Intellectual Property Rights: the Samsung Captivate, Continuum, Vibrant, Galaxy S 4G, Epic 4G, Indulge, Mesmerize, Showcase, Fascinate, Nexus S, Gem, Transform, Intercept, and Acclaim smart phones and the Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet." - Apple

Apple later ammended their lawsuit and added even more phones: The Droid Charge, Galaxy Ace, Galaxy Prevail, Galaxy S (i9000), Gravity, Infuse 4G, Nexus S 4G, Replenish, Sidekick, Galaxy Tab 10.1, and Galaxy S II.

As PC Magazine pointed out (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2383820,00.asp), "... Apple also cites the Samsung Epic, Transform, Intercept and Acclaim — all of which have gigantic slide-out QWERTY keyboards, which absolutely nobody would ever mistake for an iPhone. The Samsung Gem is a different shape, and has several buttons at the bottom. And the Samsung Continuum has a whole extra display along the bottom bezel."
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AppleFan1984 Avatar
128 months ago
I wonder if Chip was burnt out? or thrown out?
I'd wager the latter. Failing to check out the new consulting attorneys for possible conflict of interest could cost Apple their most important case against their biggest competitor. Understandable since he's so overworked, but costly just the same.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lilo777 Avatar
128 months ago
http://www.engadget.com/2011/07/12/htc-tells-apple-to-try-competing-rather-than-suing/#disqus_thread

Wow. Engadget has gone from bad TO worse TO absolutely ridiculous and pathetic with 12 years old posting just non-sense.

As I said, it was a very good move by HTC to make their fanboys and apple-haters roar for a lot of reasons. I'm quite positive that the result will be in Apple's favour.

Infringement IS infringement. Gotta pay for it. ;)

Are you talking about recent court verdict stating that Apple infringed on a couple of S3 patents (now owned by HTC)?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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