Apple wins import ban on select HTC smartphones


Apple (s aapl) on Monday won a formal import ban against some HTC Android (s goog) handsets in the U.S. from the International Trade Commission. The ITC decision relates to HTC devices that links data in documents like email to other applications, for example, a phone number that when tapped makes a call using the phone’s dialer.

The ban narrowly applies only to devices that implement this feature as described by a “data tapping patent” held by Apple, according to FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller. Should HTC be able to work around or disable this feature in its Android devices, it’ll be able to once again ship and sell those handsets in the U.S. market.

Samsung likewise made changes to certain features of the Galaxy Tab 10.1N in Germany in order to sidestep a ruling against its tablet in that country, so it’s very possible HTC will find a workaround before the import ban is scheduled to take effect on April 19, 2012. But such a workaround could chip away at Android’s usability and create a more frustrating experience for users.

Still, it’s a victory for Apple, and ammunition the company can add to its armory in its ongoing war against Google’s mobile operating system and the devices that run it. As Mueller points out, should Apple be able to achieve the same kind of success with other system-level Android elements, it could begin to make a serious dent in Android’s ability to win over users.


Patrick Alberts

This only shows the derailed nature of today’s patent system. The system has served well to protect inventors of steam engines but it is totally inappropriate for software. Add to that the failure to set the barrier high for something that is innovative, and you end up with 1-click patents and stuff like this here. It perverts the nature of patenting – which was to advance innovation by allowing the innovator some time-limited protection in return for him making the innovation public. That’s why Coca-Cola never patented its recipe. It’s secret. Fair enough. But these UI patent jokes should never have received protection beyond a few months – if at all.


You, as the rest of the tech press assumes that Apple has invented all usability functions in modern smart phones. So far,Apple has escaped similar, aggressive patent attacks from other phone makers. It has established a bad anti competitive pattern, and one day its day will come to be on the receiving end.

Comments are closed.