A US judge has made an initial ruling in favour of Apple in their attempt to take legal action against HTC for patent infringement. The verdict, which came from ITC administrative law judge Carl Charneski, is not final but is a good sign for Apple and their lawsuit that has been pending since mid-2010. If it holds, the ruling will mean that HTC will no longer be able to sell their handsets in the lucrative US market, a huge blow for Android.
The lawsuit between the makers of the most advanced smartphones on the market is over technology that is almost twenty years old. In 1994 Apple filed a patent for a “real-time signal processing system”, which is debated to be fundamental technology used across a wide range of smartphones. If HTC had to alter how their phones use this technology, they would have to rebuild a sizable piece of the mobile phone from the ground up in ways that hitherto have yet to enter human imagination.
The other patent that is causing trouble was also from over a decade ago. Filed in 1996, Apple owns the rights to the Linkify function, which scans emails, text messages and other written communication for addresses, phone numbers, internet links, etc., and turns them into clickable actions allowing users to map directions, make phone calls, or visit a website straight from the message without having to write anything down. This is a big functionality piece for both Apple and HTC and the loss of the function would be a big hit to the Taiwanese mobile phone maker.
Of course, HTC will be appealing the decision. “We are highly confident we have a strong case for the ITC appeals process and are fully prepared to defend ourselves using all means possible,” stated Grace Lei, the general legal counsel for HTC.
What’s more, fellow Android makers are coming alongside HTC to challenge the legitimacy of some of the Apple patents. Motorola, another of the world’s biggest Android makers, has approached the ITC about disbanding a dozen of Apple’s technology patents on the grounds of prior art. HTC has also filed a countersuit stating that Apple has violated five patents that HTC own; they have asked that the ITC halt the importation and sale of the iPhone 4 and iPad within the US borders. An initial ruling is yet to be made on these claims.
Guest article written by: Leanne Miller, www.playittoday.org.
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