Will HTC sue Apple over 'Touch'?

Similar devices, same name

High Tech Computer Corp. celebrated its 10th anniversary on Thursday with a rare compliment from Apple Inc.: The company adopted the same name HTC uses on one of its smart phones for the iPod touch.

HTC, a Taiwanese handset and PDA maker, earlier this year launched the HTC Touch, a Microsoft Windows Mobile 6 Professional OS smart phone designed with one-touch screen features, viewed by many as a rival to the iPhone.

Upon hearing of the name of the new iPod, HTC President and CEO Peter Chou said, "HTC Touch is a trademark, but I can't comment right now" on whether HTC might file suit against Apple.

Apple's use of the moniker, however, proves it's a good product name, he added.

Apple launched the iPod touch Wednesday. The digital music player sports a 3.5-in. wide-screen display and Wi-Fi capabilities so users can connect to the Internet. The device will be priced at $299 U.S. for an 8GB model and $399 for the 16GB version. The touch will go on sale in a few weeks.

HTC is the largest maker of mobile devices based on Microsoft Windows operating systems, and its focus on a 2.8-in. touch screen in the HTC Touch is similar to Apple's emphasis on touch screen features in its iPhone. The HTC Touch beat the iPhone to market by a few weeks back in June, but the iPhone was unveiled much earlier, on Jan. 9 at Macworld.

A trademark lawyer in Taipei, speaking on condition of anonymity, said descriptive words normally can't be trademarked, but added that if the HTC Touch and the iPod touch share similar functions, such as allowing users to play digital music, then Apple may face a legal hassle. The HTC Touch does allow for digital music storage and playing.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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