Apple scores narrow win over HTC

International Trade Commission rules HTC violated one of Apple's patents and faces import ban in U.S. starting April 2012, but observer says this will not really impact Taiwanese company's business, report notes.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

Apple won a limited victory over rival handset maker HTC after the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled the latter violated only one of Cupertino's patents. HTC will face an import ban in the United States for smartphones that infringe on the patent, but this will only take effect from Apr. 19, 2012.

Reuters reported Monday that following the ruling, HTC will remove the technology linked to the infringed patent from its phones, which it described as a "small user-interface (UI) experience".

"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," Grace Lei, HTC's general counsel, said in a statement.

The ITC decision came after it reviewed the findings of an administrative judge's initial ruling in July, which ruled that HTC violated two of Apple's patents. Commenting on this, HTC said in the report that it was "gratified" some of the earlier decisions were reversed.

However, the ruling will unlikely hurt HTC, one observer told Reuters. Peter Toren, intellectual property litigator and partner with Shulman Rogers, said it was a "limited victory" for Apple for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the ruling does not stop HTC from importing as many phones as it likes until April.

"It gives HTC plenty of time to implement a design-around, which I understand they are already working on. The order does in fact take effect in April, but the practical impact won't be felt for some months after that," Toren added.

Apple originally filed a complaint against HTC in March 2010, following which the Taiwanese counterpunched with a patent lawsuit of its own against Cupertino in May that year. 

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