US trade commission rules narrowly for Apple in HTC patent case

US trade commission rules narrowly for Apple in HTC patent case

Photo source or description

[JURIST] The US International Trade Commission (USITC) [official website] ruled [text, PDF] on Monday for Apple [corporate website; Bloomberg backgrounder] on a patent complaint against HTC [corporate website; Bloomberg backgrounder] for infringing its “data tapping” patents. The USITC found that HTC had violated section 337 of the Tarriff Act of 1930 [text, PDF] by infringing on some of the claims of patent nos. 5,946,647, 6,343,263, 5,481,721 and 6,275,983 [texts], all relating to signal processing and the transfer of data across data networks. Despite the victory for Apple, analysts state that this is not a wholesale ban on the importation of HTC Android products [FOSS Patents post]:

[T]his ruling falls far short of anything that would force HTC out of the U.S. market in the near term. Also, out of ten patents originally asserted, Apple finally prevailed on only one. Apple will need a higher “hit rate” in the future, and it will have to enforce patents that are greatly more impactful than this one. Out of ten patents originally asserted, Apple finally managed to enforce one, and it’s one of medium value.

To avoid the import ban Google [corporate website; Bloomberg backgrounder], maker of the Android operating system, needs to either remove the feature, which would puts its phones at a competitive disadvantage, or find an alternate way of implementing it. Any HTC Android devices that avoid infringing on Apple’s patents will not be subject to the importation ban, which is scheduled to begin April 19, 2012.

In November the USITC found that Apple did not violate [JURIST report] four of HTC’s patents. In July USITC ruled that HTC infringed two Apple patents [JURIST report] relating to the Android operating system. This ruling came days after Apple filed a complaint against Samsung [JURIST report] in an effort to bar importation of Samsung’s smartphones and tablets. Apple claimed Samsung’s “Galaxy” line copies its iPhone and iPad technology. This complaint came just weeks after Samsung filed a similar complaint [JURIST report] seeking to prevent Apple from importing iPads and iPhones. Samsung claimed Apple violated five patents also related to smartphones and tablets. In March 2010, Apple also filed suit against HTC [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the District of Delaware [official website] for 10 patents involving various areas of technology.