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AMD Saves Apple’s Bacon in the HTC’s Patent Complaint

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In the dispute between HTC Corporation and Apple Inc., the US International Trade Commission (US ITC) ruled in the favor of Apple, which is a reversal of the original decision. It turns out that Apple received a secret helper in the form of Advanced Micro Devices.


Back in May 2010, S3 Graphics Inc. filed a complaint against Apple for infringing on four patents in relation to the graphics operation. On July 1, 2011 ITC announced a verdict ruling in favor of S3 Graphics as HTC purchased S3 Graphics from VIA. On November 21, 2011 – the favorable verdict was overruled and the case was dismissed.

What happened? It turns out that the reversal did not happen thanks to vested interests of the U.S. companies who often use ITC for sales pressure, or by Apple's legal strength. As you might know, Apple employed a lot of refugees from Advanced Micro Devices and exactly those refugees reversed the ITC decision.

According to the verdict, on September 15, 2011 Advanced Micro Devices and its subsidiaries ATI Technologies ULC and ATI Technologies SRL entered the case as non-parties. AMD claimed they own the patents in question and that the company refuses to "assert them in this investigation." Subsequently, on September 19th Apple filed its own motion to "terminate the case based on AMD's patent ownership claims." Finally, Commission denied AMD and Apple requests to publicly disclose the details of the patents in question – so that the public would not find out what patents were used to attack S3 Graphics IP portfolio.

If you are wondering what "thanks" Apple gave AMD for this neat intervention and a save from an injunction order for all Apple devices, the answer is – cancelation of AMD Llano powered MacBook and losing the contracts for next-generation MacBook Air/Pro/iMac, which are all going to be powered by NVIDIA Quadro. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

If you thought this was over and HTC lost, there is another twist to the story. Last week, ITC accepted another investigation against Apple in regards to S3 Graphics and additional four patents. All in all, legal wheel keeps on spinning.

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