Some HTC Android Phones to be Banned from the US
A small victory for Apple in the patent war against HTC, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled out that HTC is infringing one of Apple's patents in a number of its smartphones.
(CC-BY-SA John Karakatsanis)
Based on the ITC's decision, HTC will be required to withdraw a small number of handsets from sale in the US by April, or be asked to stop using a specific user interface feature.
Apple filed a lawsuit against HTC for infringing on 20 Apple patents related to the iPhone’s user interface underlying architecture and hardware, according to the Cupertino-based company. The lawsuit was filed concurrently with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and in U.S. District Court in Delaware.
Anyway, ITC ruled that HTC was infringing a single Apple patent affecting HTC Android devices with Android 1.6 to 2.2. The devices that might be banned from the United States are Nexus One, Evo 4G, Droid Incredible, T-Mobile G2 and a number of older Android devices.
When an iPhone receives a message that contains a phone number or an address — e-mail, Web or street — those bits of data are automatically highlighted, underlined and turned into clickable links.
Click on the phone number, and the iPhone asks if you want to dial it. Click on the Web address, and it opens in Safari. Click on the street address, and Maps will display it.
This patent is definitely a big one, and the court's decision is extremely important, not only because this is one of the main feature of any smartphone, but because it is natively offered by Android; Apple can therefore sue all the phone manufacturers running the open source operating system rather than a specific hardware.
As for the infringing patent, HTC said it is "a small UI experience and HTC will completely remove it from all of our phones soon" and added, "This decision is a win for HTC and we are gratified that the commission affirmed the judge's determination on the ‘721 and ‘983 patents, and reversed its decision on the ‘263 patent and partially on the ‘647 patent."
In a press release related to this lawsuit, Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple at that time, said: "We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."
It is however interesting to see that Apple is increasingly using UI in their patent battles.