HTC, the world’s largest maker of Android phones, is in all likelihood furiously rubbing rabbit’s feet and sweating buckets in the face of a potential trade ruling Tuesday that could slam the door on U.S. sales of all handsets using the Google mobile operating system. Experts already predict Android is in “serious trouble.”
The Washington, DC-based U.S. Trade Commission Tuesday rules on HTC’s appeal of a July decision that the company’s Android phones violated two Apple patents. The two patents allow smartphones to display and transmit basic data, such as phone numbers, contact information and applications. As such, a ruling against HTC could outright ban sales during the most lucrative holiday period, slashing Android’s U.S. marketshare from 25 percent to nothing.
Because the six-member panel cannot force HTC to pay damages, denying the company’s appeal would put Apple in the cat-bird seat. The iPhone maker could squeeze every dime from HTC for licensing or sue. Perhaps recognizing the bind HTC is in, Asian traders Monday pushed the handset maker’s stock to the lowest point in more than 17 months.
However, the impact of an HTC loss could be felt by all Android manufacturers. “It’s hard to see how any Android device could not infringe, or how companies could work around them,” patent expert Florian Mueller said back in July, after HTC’s original patent loss.
Tuesday could be an early Christmas for Apple, leaving HTC, Android and Google with nothing but coal in their stockings.