Apple has today won a ruling form the International Trade Commission banning the import of some HTC smartphones into the US, reports Bloomberg. The decision was announced today and hinges on a “data tapping patent“.
The claim of infringement was made on U.S. Patent No. 5,946,647, a “system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data.”
The ITC ban will go into effect (if not overturned) on April 19th, 2012. The ITC says in its statement that HTC will be able to ship replacement products for defect replacement and repairs thereafter.
An ITC judge recently ruled that HTC was in violation of two of Apple’s patents. One of those patents, 6,343,263, for a ‘realtime API’ isn’t just a component of HTC’s devices, it’s a core component of Android and if that ruling was made to stick against it, it could affect the entire Android ecosystem, not just HTC. This is a trait that it shares with the ‘647 patent that was ruled on today.
Losing this latest complaint is a definite blow to HTC, and could have some huge ramifications in its business in the US in 2012 as well as in the war Apple is waging against Android. Although there is still some 2o separate patent suits being tried in relation to Apple’s patents and HTC products, so this isn’t over by a longshot.
HTC has issued the following statement about the ruling, indicating that it can implement workarounds for the affected patent:
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. While disappointed that a finding of violation was still found on two claims of the ‘647 patent, we are well prepared for this decision, and our designers have created alternate solutions for the ‘647 patent.
HTC later added that the cause of the infringement ruling “is a small UI experience and HTC will completely remove it from all of our phones soon.”
Apple has issued the following statement:
We think competition is healthy but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.