In a recent Press Release, Apple announced that they have sued HTC for infringement of 20 different patents related to the hardware, architecture and interface of iPhone. Some of these patents date as far back as 1995 while some are as recent as February 2nd of this year. As Engadget reports in its complete breakdown of patents, some of them are too specific while some of them are surprisingly broad and Apple suing someone based on them is interesting.
In suing HTC for patent infringement, Apple is actually declaring war on Android based phones since HTC is one of the biggest manufacturers of such devices. With speculations of tens of more Android based phones jumping in the market soon and Android increasing its market share gradually, Apple has decided to try to stop Android from taking over the iPhone. This, however, has not scared Google away. Rather, Google says they will back HTC over the issue and stand behind them.
As it clearly seems, this is more of an iPhone vs Android battle rather than Apple taking out an equipment manufacturer. If Apple can prove their point, the courts have the power to stop HTC from selling further units which would be a HUGE blow to Android and Google. Apple has filed suits both with US District Courts as well as ITC (International Trade Commission) and either of the regulatory authorities can make it or break it for HTC.