Did Apple Spend $100 Million So Far on its War Against Android?

The “thermonuclear war” that Steve Jobs declared against Android may be getting bogged down in trench warfare that is rumored to have cost US$100 million or more, according to a source who spoke with Newsweek’s Dan Lyons.

Mr. Lyons wrote in a blog post: “a person close to the situation tells me there’s a rumor going around among the lawyers that Apple spent $100 million just on its first set of claims against HTC. Who knows if it’s true, but if so, Apple didn’t get a lot for its money.”

He goes on to note that when Apple fired the first salvos against Android handset maker HTC in February 2010, the company brought 84 claims based on 10 patents to bear. However, when the case reached an International Trade Commission judge, four patents were left — one was ruled invalid and two others didn’t cover anything Apple was actually using at the time.

Apple did score a victory with the final patent, but, Mr. Lyons wrote, “n reality the infringement involved a relatively tiny software feature, one that lets you press on a phone number in an email or Web page and bring up a menu from which you can choose to call the number, send a text message, and so on.” He noted that HTC can resolve that problem by either removing the feature or finding a different way to implement it.

Meanwhile, Apple has a second complaint against HTC in the works, while HTC has fired back with two legal claims of its own. And Apple is also involved in lawsuits and counter-suits with Samsung and Motorola.

In the end, Mr. Lyons mused, “everyone is going to settle … The court fights are really just a way of jockeying for position and trying to gain leverage for the great settlement that is yet to come. In that sense, whatever Apple is spending on legal fees is probably money well spent.”