The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) has ruled in favor of Apple and declared a ban on the import of many HTC devices in the US, including flagship phones like the Sprint Evo 4G and Verizon Droid Incredible. The ruling would effectively end HTC’s business in the US.
After a lengthy back-and-forth between the two companies, the ITC has ruled that HTC infringes on two of Apple’s patents. Should the President of the United States decide to let the decision pass through, the ban will be put into effect on April 19, 2012. HTC plans to implement “alternate solutions” to combat the ruling.
The Verge reports:
After a lengthy review, the Commission found that HTC devices infringe two claims of patent #5,946,647, which is a system level patent issued in 1999 on analyzing and linking data structures— ultimately implicating the heart of Android itself and not HTC’s specific implementation.The decision now goes to the desk of the president, who has 60 days to issue a rarely-used veto; the ban itself will go into effect on April 19, 2012 to provide HTC with a transition period, and HTC will be allowed to import refurbished products for warranty replacement purposes until December 19, 2013.
Due to the nature of the exclusion order in the ruling, HTC devices that are already being sold in the US shouldn’t be affected. But until the cases of infringement are fixed by HTC, Apple could use its newfound clout to go after all of the HTC phones running the newer versions of Android (2.3, 3.0, and 4.0).
Apple could theoretically use this new ruling to go after any other Android handset maker, as the main patent in question is a system level part of the Android OS. HTC has said that it will simply remove the infringing patent from its phones. The company called it a “small UI experience” in an official statement:
We are gratified that the Commission affirmed the judge’s initial determination on the ‘721 and ‘983 patents, and reversed its decision on the ‘263 patent and partially on the ‘647 patent. We are very pleased with the determination and we respect it. However, the ‘647 patent is a small UI experience and HTC will completely remove it from all of our phones soon.
Apple’s official response:
We think competition is healthy but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.