Apple Claims Smartphone Infringement, Deals Blow to HTC

By Joseph Mandour on December 27, 2011

mandour apple logo California – The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ordered a ban on HTC handset imports to the United States in a final ruling this week. The ban will take effect on April 19, 2012 allowing wireless carriers to modify their plans.

Apple initially claimed that HTC infringed on several of its patents, but the commission focused on a single patent involved with detecting data. The patent, number 5,946,647, encompasses a “system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer generated data,” and was granted in 1999. The technology allows a smartphone user to tap on a recognizable format such as an address or phone number from an e-mail or a website. The phone immediately locates the address on a map or dials the phone number.

Under the ban, the HTC Corporation will still be allowed to import refurbished mobiles to satisfy warranties. The patent will affect a small part of overall phone function and HTC may remove the feature from infringing phones without rendering the entire phone unusable. Other phones may also be affected by the ban.

This ruling is the latest in a larger dispute involving the ITC and federal courts, encompassing HTC and other phone makers who are accusing each other of stealing technology. Apple wants the courts to award damages, and the commission to block imports of infringing products.

HTC is a Taiwan based company with offices in Bellevue, Washington. It developed the G1, the first Android smartphone, and built a market share featuring the company’s unique Sense user interface. In an earlier October ruling, the ITC held that the Apple iPhone did not violate four HTC patents. It is the first Android supporting company Apple has targeted, foreshadowing possible future litigation due to a growing threat of Google software affecting the iPhone market.

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Posted in: Patent Infringement