Apple wins initial ITC ruling on HTC phone

WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO Fri Jul 15, 2011 7:57pm EDT

A new HTC Android-based smartphone Sensation is displayed during a news conference for the launch of the product in Taipei May 27, 2011. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

A new HTC Android-based smartphone Sensation is displayed during a news conference for the launch of the product in Taipei May 27, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Pichi Chuang

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WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc won a preliminary ruling from a U.S. trade panel that Taiwanese handset maker HTC Corp infringed on two of the California company's patents.

HTC, which uses Google's Android operating system for its smartphones, said it would "vigorously fight" the infringement finding.

An International Trade Commission judge on Friday made the ruling, but the full commission must now rule on whether it will uphold or reverse its administrative judge's decision.

The ruling, though preliminary, will be closely dissected as it is one of the first between Apple and other smartphone makers that use Android.

Smartphone technology has spawned a wealth of patent litigation. Apple also has filed complaints against Samsung Electronics, which also uses the Android software platform. Apple recently settled a case against Nokia.

Microsoft and Motorola also have filed smartphone related lawsuits against each other.

Android-based smartphones have outpaced iPhones globally but Apple is gearing up to launch a new iPhone this year, which is likely to give it a big boost.

Apple initially accused HTC of infringing 10 patents but six were dropped from the case for various reasons. The ITC judge ruled that HTC infringed two of the remaining four.

A final determination in the case is due on December 6.

Apple filed a parallel lawsuit against HTC in a court in the U.S. District Court in Delaware.

Asked for comment, Apple reiterated a previous statement by Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs that "competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."

The ITC is a popular venue for patent disputes because it can bar the importation of devices made with infringing technology. Often parallel lawsuits are filed in district courts to try to recoup any financial damages.

"We are confident we have a strong case for the ITC appeals process and are fully prepared to defend ourselves using all means possible," said HTC General Counsel Grace Lei in an email statement.

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Comments (5)
ElPoblano wrote:
I have generally an Apple fan- I have been using Mac as my only computer for years, I was an early adopter for both the iPod and iPad, and the only thing that kept me from buying an iPhone was the lack of support on my carrier (Verizon).
However much I love Apple products- this recent string of lawsuits makes me sick. It seems that rather than focus on developing better products Apple has decided that it is easier to prevent others from doing so. Come on, Apple! You’re better than that!

Jul 15, 2011 10:53pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
dburry wrote:
Patents have gotten completely out of hand in this country, and justice is turned away backward, and it’s getting worse and worse as patent trollers get more and more bold. I see no proper patent reform solution coming in my lifetime except moving out of the country! Yep, soon all programmers, all innovators, all inventors will have to leave to stay afloat. Sorry old glory, sad to give you up forever. Yes, they’ll fix it someday, but not until the rest of the world is too far ahead of this country to ever catch up.

Jul 15, 2011 11:07pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Lochias wrote:
@ElPoblano
When is this that Apple has failed to focus on developing better products?

What it focuses on has always been the competitive bleeding edge of technology, for which innovation, design judgment, pricing and marketing are key to survival.

Part of this equation is protection against simple (or not so simple) theft. If one company has spent its billions to develop something new, if has a right, under the laws of nearly every country in the world, to exclusive use for some period of time.

Nokia (as one example) has such a right, in support of which it now receives substantial payments from Apple.

Similarly 3 Graphics, another recent case.

Why exactly does Apple “make you sick” for asserting its own rights?

Why is Apple “better that” to seek proper compensation in court? No one else is, nor can they be and honor their legal obligation to stockholders.

Jul 16, 2011 2:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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