ITC rules HTC violates Apple patents, bans select devices from the U.S.

The ITC has ruled in favor of Apple in its battle with HTC, confirming that HTC’s mobile phones and tablets contain features and functions that violate Apple’s intellectual property. As a result, the ITC has banned the importation of any HTC product that violates Apple’s IP.

Citing concerns for “competitive conditions” in the U.S. economy, the ban will not take place until April 19, 2012. Furthermore, HTC will continue to be able to import refurbished models of existing handsets until December 19, 2013.

Today’s ruling is not a blanket ban of all HTC products. It merely prevents the importation of HTC handsets that violate two specific patents, so there’s no telling yet which phones fit that description. HTC could possibly avoid this issue in the future by retooling the way that its phones handle certain tasks. Among those offending features are the ability to tap on a number within an email and dial it from the phone.

Apple’s more serious allegations of patent infringements were thrown out, and the lead time before a ban kicks in gives HTC time to make changes to its devices. Users could see features removed or implemented in a new way that doesn’t violate Apple’s intellectual property. What remains to be seen is how, if at all, this ruling might affect what HTC planned to do in future devices. CES is next month and Mobile World Congress follows shortly after, so we’re approaching a period when HTC has several products to unveil. That’s not the time you want to have a negative ITC ruling looming over your head. HTC may have already developed a fix to address these issues.

ITC Ruling via Foss Patents, The Verge

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