The difference is that Apple actually invented the technology it
accused HTC — and by proxy, Google — of “stealing” (to use Steve
Jobs’ verb). One of the patents Apple cited in its 2010 suit —
Patent No. 7479949 — is a 358-page document signed by
Jobs himself that covers everything from the way a finger touches
the screen of a smartphone to the heuristics that turn those
touches into commands.
HTC and Google, by contrast, are accusing Apple (whose smartphone
designs they have plainly copied) of violating patents they bought
fourth or fifth hand.
But Google’s slogan is “Don’t be evil”, thus, this must be OK. Duh.