Dec 12 AT 11:58 AM Nick Gray 76 Comments

HTC may ditch Atmel maxTouch sensors if court ruling goes in Apple’s favor


In an effort to avoid legal ramifications that could come out of a court ruling later this week, HTC may looking at the possibility of changing its touch-sensor supplier. The current Atmel maxTouch sensors used by HTC on their phones are based on a system called “touch ITO pattern” which is very similar to the technology patented by Apple for its touch screen devices. John Vinh (a semiconductor analyst with Collins Stewart) believes that HTC may be able to circumvent the issue by altering their supply chain and using touch-sensors from either Synaptics or Cypress Semiconductor.

HTC will probably wait for an official ruling before they start signing new contracts with different suppliers, but it’s reassuring to know that they do have options already lined up so that consumers will not be affected by the legal battles they are facing with Apple.

Source: Barrons

Nick is a tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC and its devices. He started (the first HTC blog) back in 2007 and later joined the Android and Me family in the summer of 2010.

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  • goncalossilva

    Noooo! The Atmel maxTouch is awesome! If this goes forward, I hope they find an alternative with similar performance…

    • erikiksaz

      I am sure they will.

      If we can fast forward a year or two into the future, it would be fun to see what type of non – sensical lawsuits apple will continue to make up against android manufacturers once the android manufacturers ensure that they aren’t violating these silly patents.

      • Samar

        For that to happen, the Androide handset makers have to come up with something new and come out with it FIRST. That’ll make it.

        • masterpfa

          Not quite right.
          They need to acquire the patents for it.

          Who designs or uses a technology first is not the issue, but who infringes on the rights of the patent holder.

        • desean

          What about the other handset makers? I am sure the others also use the Atmel maxTouch sensors. If I recall correct, the original SGS also use the same sensor. Right?

      • LukeT32

        How can they Sue HTC for this? Apple should Sue the company that created the touch sensor.

    • thechad

      similar or better performance

  • wwJOSHdo

    Apple looks at it all like this, “If we can’t beat em’, we’ll sue em”. F*** OFF Apple! Android can’t help it that it’s BETTER than iOS and is kicking your ass! That is all!

    • DroidSamurai

      Yea, so much better that they dare to enter the cellphone market in the first place when Motorola basically invented the modern day cellphone industry.

      • Andrew Castro

        Why don’t you ask Kodak how it feels in a post digital camera world? Or Motorola how it feels coming back from an inch of death thanks to the Droid?

        You maybe on top now but if Apple doesn’t change it will be a “fond memory”. All this sueing is just holding back phone technology. All this wasted money could have gone to better R&D.

    • stenzor

      I think the only solution is to just nuke Apple’s HQ

      • Jay Rocha

        Wouldn’t all that radiation give people cancer? Then they can be even more like their idol Steve Jobs! Oops… too soon? I don’t think so. ;-)

        • Jaap

          never to soon or to late, just in bad taste


    Wow sometimes as a business you have adjust things.. But it is always sour when it comes at the hand of a court ruling, due to a competitors fears. HTC dont take it personal, take it as your big enough for the others to notice..Do what you have to do and bend a lil. But do not Bow

  • YMS123

    Bloodsucking Apple, they won’t rest until all Android phones are either banned or reduced to feature phones

  • mr 1338

    i hate apple.
    they made great inventions and products and paved the way for android
    BUT instead of keep innovating they shit their pants and sue everyone

    • lxgeorge

      Exactly! They feel so entitled from their past innovations that they just release products that have old technology (iPhone 4s had a dual core processor? No way that’s crazy innovative!) and sue to keep their place in the market.

    • stenzor

      I think they are all trying to fulfill Steve’s dying wish ha

    • Jay Rocha

      Is it just me… or aren’t there more important cases for judges to rule on… I dunno… maybe murderers on death row? Apple being whiny in court just wastes everyone’s time and money.

  • keridel

    well as long as the technology they use is as good as the last it should be ok.

    anything to get rid of stinking apple and their patent troll crap.

    • BiGMERF


  • Canterrain

    You’d think that if this were right and the Atmel sensors infringed on Apple’s patents, it’d be Atmel in trouble and not HTC.

    You’d think…

    • metafor

      You’d also think that, since Apple doesn’t make touch sensor chips, that such patents would be blatantly in the category of “patent troll”. Being able to patent something you never make is an atrocious practice that should never be allowed.

    • Billy

      Yeah. I was thinking that also … maybe they are both being sued but HTC (being the larger) is simply taking more heat? IDK.

    • Nick Gray

      If the court rules in Apple’s favor, HTC’s products with Atmel’s sensors will not be able to be imported into the country. It’s not a huge issue for HTC since there are other suppliers which use different technologies, but Atmel stands to lose a truck load of money if HTC and other OEMs are forced to switch from the maxTouch sensors.

  • jamal

    How do the other’s compare to Atmel maxTouch?

  • zyphbear

    I feel for HTC here since Apple is being a bully about this kind of thing and there are only so many methods to interact with a mobile screen.

    This is also part of the reason that patents need to be verified and not allowed to be so vague. For example: “The method to enter text on a internet site, then allowing that text to be submitted and stored with other parts of text on a display”. While at first that could be a comment system, it could also refer to blogging, RSS feeds, News sites, etc.

  • Billy

    So … what do all the other Android devices use? I have used an HTC but it didn’t seem any different my my droid x, droid 2 or SGSII.

    Maybe I didn’t have enough hands on time with HTC? Also .. why is HTC being targeted for sourcing a part from someone else and not the manufacturer of said part?

    • Nick Gray

      Because it’s HTC that’s importing the product into the country as a part of their devices. If HTC wasn’t using that specific sensor, Apple’s wouldn’t have a case.

  • Thomas Biard

    Can we get patent reform? Please! Seriously, just because something looks similar and will compete with your creation doesnt mean you need to sue them into submission. These patent wars kill innovation and block the road to “device perfection”

  • jimtravis

    Like HTC devices. If HTC changes suppliers, my main concern is performance. Although a pain HTC may have to change suppliers due to a court ruling, as long as the performance of the new part is equal to the current, should be a seamless transition (hopefully) for the consumer.

  • Rob Vermeij

    Apple keeps showing its true selve, sooner or later more and more people will start to realise what kind of company Apple is. Last week it was already leaked that apple did some business with a patent troll to sue other companies to avoid bad publicity.

  • ramenchef

    I can’t stand these patent wars to be honest. We need a complete patent overhaul for real innovation to happen. The very fact that patent trolls exist helps prove this point.

    • jimtravis

      Totally agree. Patent system needs an immediate, major overhaul to keep up with technological advances.

      • Samar

        Totally. Somebody needs to clearly define the terminology and exclude generic technologies like touchscreen and so on..C’mon Law dudes..

  • Chris Lewis

    Apple will just never give it a rest will they? It would be nice if all these companies just worked on the development of their own products rather than trying to slow down the competition.

  • roamdeus

    This will come to end soon enough cuz apple doesnt have there main weapon ….steve….innovation is dead for apple Steve turned that company around and since he dropped so will the apple

  • mavensage

    Maybe there should be rules limiting how long a patent can be held if a company does not produce or contract out to produce a product. Holding large numbers of patents without actually acting on them in some other than to sue should invalidate a patent. Maybe there should also be time limits on registering a suit against infringement and anyone who attempts to sue outside of that limit should be made to prove they were unaware of the products existence.

    • Nick Gray

      That would be nice,but Apple does use this patent with their mice and touchpads on their laptops.

      • Slater91

        They are made by Foxconn. Apple doesn’t produce anything, really.

  • Mike Hanel

    soooooooo tired of Apple trying to beat the competition in court. Can’t they just focus on trying to beat the competition with better products that actually give the consumer what they want? This court bully stuff is getting old. Why not try to find something cool to do with your screens instead of not letting other people that want one bigger than 3.5″ have have one. This is why I stopped buying apple products a couple years ago…

  • James Conley

    Apple’s response to everything:

    Apple: is it a phone
    Anyone: Yes
    Apple: LAWYERED!!!

    • Samar

      Hahaha. Well put man.

  • mattcoz

    Maybe their touch screens won’t be so ridiculously sensitive now.

  • Himal Limbu

    F*** Apple.

    • jakymiwm


  • humidity

    When will these patent battles ever stop…? /sigh

    • seansin


  • Victor Feitosa

    Douchebag apple trying to handicap coolnes….

  • Louis A

    In a good way it might push companies to come out with something new and even way better.

  • TruFactz

    I Love the Atmel touch sensor in HTC Devices, if they do have to go with another i think they should do Synaptics.

  • Omar Santiago

    Fuck Apple!

  • Bryan Stoner

    Bullshit! Why the hell does it matter which sensor company they license from. It’s just a fucking touch sensor!! )@%UR)@(#U%R)(U@R AAPPPPLEEEE!!!!! FFFUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!

  • techvudu

    I think Apple throws IP suits like they do darts, “throw them all, see what sticks”. They took a semi generous beating last week, and hopefully more companies come together to prevent them from taking more. Hey, if you have IP to protect then by all means, but there is a point where things are just they way they are.

    If Apple made cars, they would sue Chevy, Ford, and Chrysler for having 4 wheels also. My point is if you need to take a royalty or tariff then by all means, but stop with the injunctions and “pull from market” lawsuits, no one like a bully.

  • phssthpok

    Way more than +1 on patent reform. My wife will be the first one to say I’m not smart enough to understand how to fix the system, but something’s seriously wrong. And how can a company sell products that violate other people’s patents and not be liable to either the patent holder or the purchaser? This almost seems like a form of entrapment.

  • Nathan D.

    well as long as their touch screen don’t get sucker, then I don’t care.

  • Hall Lo

    So tired of all the lawsuit of patents…. can’t it stop already? It’s just getting more and more stupid

    • Samar

      haha…Some of the patent related statements they mention sounds more ludacris.

  • laosgurllynn

    Apple need to stop being childish and mind their own fan children.

  • Kavman

    I am going to go against the stream a little here and say that while I agree that patent reform is required, as the holder of patents in another industry I can honestly say that the bashing of any company for trying to protect it’s IP is silly.

    I love to bash Apple as much as the next Android fan boy but the agro about patents is a little off base – especially as Sammy, HTC et al are no doubt going to whack Apple over the head in court at the first chance they get over some equally obscure and seemingly trollish patent.

    It is the promise of protection of your invention, the ability to exclusively market an idea or product that your competitors don’t have access to that drives the innovation. R&D is bloody expensive and in the right industry, patent protection makes it affordable.

    That same closed loop also fosters further innovation as people apply even more brain power to working around patents rather than just copying what the other guys is doing.

    As a consumer it is annoying at this minute because I may not be able to get feature X from manufacturer Y but give it a few months or the next generation in hardware and you will be able to, and it will probably be better than what you were wanting last time.

    HTC and Amtel will get though this one way or another and will be stronger for it.

  • Ilyse Rose

    There court cases will never end, huh

  • aranea

    What I don’t understand is how come a supplier can be locked into supplying to only one manufacturer.

  • zippyioa

    This is getting ridicilous!

    The next thing Apple will be claiming as theirs is the patent of “holding something in your hand and talking to someone on it”

  • zippyioa

    This is getting ridiculous!

    The next thing Apple will be claiming is the patent of “holding something in your hand and talking to someone on it”

    • Samar


  • jk0l

    My professor just gave a lecture about ethic today in my engineering class.
    But I guess it is not that important in the real world, is it?
    Money will take away your common sense and virtue, hence these stupid patents.

  • Samar

    I just hope that it doesn’t effect the SenseUI in any way. I just love it than any other.

  • bnarcelo

    From Wikipedia on the history of Atmel when it acquired Quantum Research:

    In March 2008, Atmel acquired Quantum Research Group (‘QRG’) located near Southampton England, in order to gain entry into the capacitive touch button and touch screen market. Founded by Hal Philipp in 1996, QRG focused on using standard microcontrollers pre-programmed as touch sensors, including devices sourced from several companies including Atmel. In acquiring QRG, Atmel also gained a substantial patent portfolio and customer list related to touch sensing. Of particular note are patents relating to touch screens using mutual capacitance, matrix-based sensing topologies. In acquiring QRG, Atmel also inherited an ongoing patent lawsuit that QRG had filed against Apple Inc. in 2005 alleging infringement of one of its charge-transfer based patents in the iPod click-wheel; the case was later settled. The acquired business unit still operates near Southampton UK. Today, QRG-based capacitive touch solutions using AVR microcontrollers form a large part of Atmel’s product marketing efforts.

  • ToonPanda

    I’m so tired of all these Apple lawsuits -_-’

    • Bman1126

      They do it because they are scared. they can’t keep up. I love what they have done to the smartphone industry but now they are just ruining it because they think everyone should have the same phone.

  • Bman1126

    Someone needs to come out with a better touchscreen and patten it and leave apple in the dust. they are falling behind now as it is. just put them out of our misery

  • Jay Rocha

    I feel bad for the judges in these court cases. They’ll never be able to shop for a smartphone in peace again. At least they’ll think hard before buying an Apple product again.

  • Ranger666

    All these cases are so childish anymore that they are becoming comical for the general public.

  • donger

    oh boy

  • Slater91

    I live in Italy and such shameful trials would be laughed at since there’s no logic in them! I make touch sensors, I sell them to John Smith (HTC)… and Jane Doe (crApple) sues John Smith for the sensors I make! That’s crazy! Where’s the logic in it? It should be me, the maker of the sensors, to be sued if I infringe on patents. John Smith only uses the sensors I sell him and have no responsibility in the production and design of the product – so why sould be him to be sued?
    I really can’t understand this and I remember AMD recently stepped into the S3 Graphics vs Apple trial saying “hey people, it’s me to design and produce the video cards and pay all the patent licenses, so crApple should not be sued for this as they only use a product I make”. That is perfectly logical, so why this case should be different?

  • Shawn Clark

    Smh…Apple was trying to file a lawsuit against somebody.First Samsung now HTC…if your confident in your product then you shouldnt have to worry just do you right?