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ITC Rules For Apple in Patent Case, Bans Some HTC Imports [Update: HTC Responds]

The U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled in favor (PDF) of Apple in a patent dispute with Taiwanese phone manufacturer HTC. The commission found that a number of HTC devices violate two claims related to an Apple patent. As a result of the decision, an actual ban on the importation of some HTC devices goes into effect in April of 2012.

Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents on the decision:
What Apple has won is a formal import ban scheduled to commence on April 19, 2012, but relating only to HTC Android phones implementing one of two claims of a "data tapping patent": a patent on an invention that marks up phone numbers and other types of formatted data in an unstructured document, such as an email, in order to enable users to bring up other programs (such as a dialer app) that process such data. The import ban won't relate to HTC Android products that don't implement that feature, or that implement it in ways not covered by those patent claims.
Mueller goes on to note that it is possible for Google to implement the feature in a way that doesn't violate Apple's patents, which would render the ban meaningless. However, it does give Apple a bigger bargaining chip in its many lawsuits against Android manufacturers.

According to the decision (PDF), the patent being infringed is:

- U.S. Patent No. 5,946,647 on a "system and method causes a computer to detect and perform actions on structures identified in computer data."

This ruling echoes an earlier one by an ITC judge from July in the same case.

The United States International Trade Commission is an independent federal agency that, among other things, adjudicates cases involving imports that allegedly infringe intellectual property rights." It has the power, in rare cases, to ban infringing products from the country entirely.

Update: In a statement given to BGR, HTC says it is "well prepared for this decision, and our designers have created alternate solutions for the ‘647 patent."

Top Rated Comments

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39 months ago

So to summarize, Apple lost all the patents against HTC, but won only 2 claims, AND it's only on some HTC devices AND it takes effect only in the end of April AND HTC just said that their "designers have created alternate solutions for the ‘647 patent."

So what did Apple won here ?


Reminds me of Samsungs HUGE loss (which really meant they had to change a scrolling feature in the Samsung Picture Gallery.)
Rating: 16 Votes
39 months ago

"I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this. I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong." - Steve Jobs


Up until now I guess I didn't realize how serious this situation was, probably because it hadn't affected sales in my country (U.S.) yet. It is getting pretty insane...
Rating: 16 Votes
39 months ago
So to summarize, Apple lost all the patents against HTC, but won only 2 claims, AND it's only on some HTC devices AND it takes effect only in the end of April AND HTC just said that their "designers have created alternate solutions for the ‘647 patent."

So what did Apple win here ?

EDIT link : http://www.androidcentral.com/htc-found-violate-two-apple-patents-some-devices-will-be-banned-import-come-april-2012
Rating: 16 Votes
39 months ago
In 2007 Steve got up on stage, having come completely out of left field with a landmark product and declared "boy have we patented it!" This goes for most of Apple's products.

Fair warning. Apple's version of the patent game was never any secret.
Rating: 9 Votes
39 months ago
Boom!
Rating: 8 Votes
39 months ago

Those of you people vilifying Apple over this, I'd like to see how you would feel if you invested your precious resources in something only to watch someone else rip it off and profit from your hard work.


The point is that in this case, the thing that Apple patented already existed many years before.
Rating: 8 Votes
39 months ago
this is just a symbolic win for apple, it only affected froyo and maybe gingerbread and that it.they will pay a fine and move on.
Rating: 7 Votes
39 months ago

I don't know about better. Steve certainly was put off by Android specifically, that was clear in his biography.

I will say this though - seeing Apple bring all these suits frustrates me enough to consider tossing my iPhone and going to an Android phone.


I'm marginally considering to discontinue buying Apple products. It seems to me that instead of innovating their products, they would rather file lawsuits.

I know Steve Jobs hated Android because he said it "ripped off iOS." Yet Mike Lazaridis didn't think iOS ripped off BBOS. Which he could have said. Steve Jobs was never my favorite person anyway.
Rating: 7 Votes
39 months ago

Those of you people vilifying Apple over this, I'd like to see how you would feel if you invested your precious resources in something only to watch someone else rip it off and profit from your hard work.


Again, this is not about ripping anyone's hard work off. Nor is it anything against Apple. (If anybody is against any entity, it should be the USPTO.)

--

I think what some people here are missing, is that a patent lawsuit doesn't necessarily mean that anyone stole anything at all.

When you get a patent, you can stop anyone else who even comes up with the same idea for the following 20 years. That's the way patents work, for better or worse.

In this case, Apple filed a patent on an idea fifteen years ago... a decade before any work began on the iPhone or Android. It was just one of millions of patents and no doubt wasn't even remembered until Apple needed some ammunition. Heck, they're probably as surprised as anyone, that out of ten patents, this was the only one that was useful.

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Apple didn't accuse HTC of stealing any ideas. It's not about that, so any childish anger is totally misplaced and inappropriate. It's simply about the fact that having a patent gives you the right to stop others with the same idea. Apple used that right.

In turn, HTC had no reason to write it a different way until they were forced to by the ITC decision.

Of course, eventually the patent will expire and this whole discussion will be moot. By then, most of the currently angry posters won't even remember it. What a waste of energy.
Rating: 7 Votes
39 months ago

They won the headline: ITC Agrees that HTC Ripped Off Apple. That's all they need to undermine HTC as a cheap knock-off brand.


Wrong headline, of course. More like "ITC decides HTC thought of the same thing that Apple did. Patent law means HTC must think of something else. No big deal."

It's almost exactly like when Apple (and everyone else on the planet) had to settle over Visual Voice Mail patents. Apple and ATT didn't steal anyone else's code or ideas, but they sure had to pay up when it turned out that the idea had already been patented.
Rating: 7 Votes

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