So, Apple and HTC are fighting - and Google are being drawn into the fray - but what does that mean to device users now? While it would be easy to write-off Apple's patent tantrum as a non-issue to those people toting a Nexus One or HTC Hero, or considering picking up an HTC Legend next month, according to one IP expert the repercussions could have surprising impact not only on future handsets but on existing smartphones.
Harvard Law School professor Jonathan Zittrain reckons the HTC/Apple case could have parallels with the TiVo/EchoStar lawsuit that kicked off all the way back in 2004. There, after a protracted battle, EchoStar were forced to update their existing DVRs with software that removed the contentious functionality. In fact, Zittrain says that "if the court were to side with Apple and issue an injunction that insists HTC kill the phone, or at least some of its functionality, they easily could."