Late last year, the International Trade Commission found HTC to be infringing on one of Apple’s patents. So the ITC gave the company until April to correct the problem, before enforcing a country-wide import ban on its products.
Long story short, shipments of several HTC devices were held up at U.S. customs last month due to the ruling. And even though it supposedly found a workaround, and the shipments were released, HTC isn’t out of the woods just yet…
Apple believes that HTC’s claims that it removed the feature that violates the patent in question — “data” detectors, that automatically create hyperlinks for phone numbers, email address, etc.” — are false. And that it basically lied to Customs to free up shipments of its flagship devices like the One X and the Evo 4G LTE.
FOSS Patents‘ Florian Mueller agrees:
“Apple is right that HTC’s new Android devices, based on the undisputedly accurate screenshots Apple provided, still link multiple actions to detected structures. A short press on a detected structure triggers only one action, but a long press presents a menu with multiple options. On the surface, this suggests a continued infringement of the ‘647 “data tapping” patent unless Google and HTC have restructured the relevant code.”
The problem seems to be with Android’s built-in GMail application, which HTC claims it has no control over. But Apple says that this doesn’t justify infringement, and it should’ve been mentioned to Customs before prior shipments were released.
Mueller expects the ITC to rule quickly, but he isn’t positive that it will order another temporary ban. At the very least, however, Apple will get another chance to plead its case. And that’s the last thing the struggling HTC needs right now.
Wow, Apple’s legal team is absolutely relentless.