Apple’s patent lawsuit against HTC may be much more far reaching than initially thought. According to a report at CNN’s Fortune website, Apple’s lawsuit has Android handset manufacturers shaking in their boots with many hiring legal teams, revising their OS strategies, sending hardware back to engineering, and changing development roadmaps behind closed doors. It all started in early 2009 when Apple COO Tim Cook launched the first attack during an earning conference call by stating “we will not stand for having our IP ripped off and we’ll use whatever weapons we have at our disposal. I don’t know that I can be more clear than that.” Apple publicly remained passive during much of 2009, sitting idle while Palm launched the Pre and other manufacturers pushed out non-multi-touch smartphones that posed no threat to its iPhone market share. Enter the HTC DROID ERIS, the Nexus One, and the Motorola DROID which recently took the smartphone world by storm with their sleek good looks and potential multi-touch capability. Apple is now on the proverbial warpath with HTC as its first target and other manufacturers fearful that they will be next as Apple reportedly held conversations with “Tier 1” device manufacturers to inform them of Apple’s intentions. The winner in this fearful frenzy, ironically, may be Microsoft which is reportedly swooping in with its extensive patent library in hand, and promising Windows Phone 7 Series as a safe harbor to companies that are fearful of Apple’s wrath. It all sounds like a daytime soap opera conjured up for the geek world but it is unfortunately and incredibly true.