Apple achieved a potentially major victory against Taiwanese smartphone vendor, HTC Corp on Monday after the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled in its favor and found that some of HTC’s Android smartphones and tablets violated one of its patents.
In its ruling on the patent dispute between Apple and HTC, the ITC banned HTC phones or tablets that run on Google’s Android 1.6 Donut to 2.2 Froyo mobile operating system. The decision will not have much impact on the sales of HTC devices as it does not call for ban on phones running newer versions of Android such as 2.3 Gingerbread, 3.0 Honeycomb or the new 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Latest HTC phones and tablets run on Android Gingerbread, and older models are due for upgrades to Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
Apple had complained to ITC and accused HTC of violating a number of its patents. But the ITC found HTC in violation of only one of Apple’s patents — patent 5,946,647, which Apple was awarded in February 1996 and covers the “system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data,” or basically a patent for handling the actions that take place in the background when you do something as simple as tapping a link in an email to open it in a Web browser.
But HTC Corp is not perturbed at this development and on the contrary a company official confirmed to the media that HTC will launch new phones to bypass the infringed patent very soon and it sees limited impact to the company.
This ruling will come into effect from April 19, 2012 and HTC has sufficient time to sell whatever inventory it has in US before the deadline. Apple Inc. has not commented so far on this ruling.