Apple scores hit on HTC in US patent case

Dec 20, 2011 by Glenn Chapman
Apple on Monday scored a hit in an ongoing patent brawl with mobile handset giant HTC with a US trade authority ruling the iPhone maker has rights to features using one-tap screen commands.

Apple scored a hit in an ongoing patent brawl with mobile handset giant HTC with a US trade authority ruling the iPhone maker has rights to features using one-tap screen commands.

The on Monday gave Apple part of what it wanted in a "limited exclusion order" directing that stop bringing offending smartphones into the United States effective on April 19, 2012.

Taiwan-based HTC expected to be able to adapt the Android-powered to sidestep the trouble with the single patent before the deadline.

The move was likely to come at the cost of removing some features smartphone users enjoy and came as part of an ongoing campaign by Apple to cobble the momentum of smartphones powered by Google's Android software.

The patent affects functions such as touching a smartphone screen to follow a Web link or call a phone number displayed on a page.

The decision was deemed final and sent for review by the staff of US President Barack Obama, who was unlikely to overrule it.

The final order came with the commission reversing a prior decision and ruling in favor of HTC on that would have been harder to design out of handsets.

This file photo shows a Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. Xoom tablet. Motorola Mobility's trove of patents was a key reason that Google bought the company this year for $12.5 billion in cash.

Technology giants have taken to routinely pounding one another with patent lawsuits. Apple has accused HTC and other makers using Google's Android mobile operating system of infringing on Apple-held patents.

HTC in October ramped up its patent war with Apple with ammunition provided by California-based , the force behind Android .

Google transferred to HTC a set of patents that the company used to amend intellectual property infringement complaints against maker Apple in the United States.

Microsoft has also accused Android phones of using its patented technology, with litigation or licensing deals between companies being the selection of outcomes.

HTC in October was dealt a setback in its claim against Apple, after an initial ruling by a US trade authority sided with the California-based tech giant.

A judge at the Washington-based ITC made an "initial determination" that Apple had committed "no violation" of patent law.

HTC, which stands for High Tech Computer Corp., is Taiwan's leading mobile phone manufacturer and a major producer of Android smartphones.

Android has been growing in size as a target, with more than half of the smartphones sold around the world in the third quarter of this year powered by the Google software, according to industry tracker Gartner.

Motorola Mobility's trove of patents was a key reason that Google bought the company this year for $12.5 billion in cash.

"Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google's patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies," Google chief executive Larry Page said when the Motorola Mobility buy was announced.

Motorola Mobility chief executive Sanjay Jha told financial analysts the US maker of smartphones and touchscreen tablet computers has over 17,000 issued patents and another 7,500 pending.

Taiwan's HTC hails US Apple patent ruling

Taiwan's leading smartphone maker HTC Tuesday hailed a victory following a "better-than-expected" US ruling that it had partially infringed a patent owned by the US technology giant Apple.

The US International Trade Commission on Monday ordered HTC to stop importing by April 19 smartphones in to the United States that used certain patents by Apple.

However, the commission said HTC had violated just one of the several patents claimed by Apple in a complaint filed by US firm in March last year.

The decision reversed a previous ruling that HTC had broken multiple claims of two separate patents.

"This decision is a win for HTC... We are very pleased with the determination and we respect it," the company said in a statement.

The news was welcomed by investors, with HTC shares closing up by their seven percent daily limit at Tw$476.0 in Taipei trading.

HTC described the patent it had broken as a "small user interface experience" and it would "completely remove it from all of our phones soon", meaning it was unlikely to affect the firm's sales in the United States too much.

"The outcome of the final ruling is better than the market had expected, as most of the affected items were old models the company put on the market last year," said Mars Hsu of Grand Cathay Securities.

"Besides, I believe HTC has sufficient time to make adjustments on its design and marketing strategy before April 19."

HTC touts its own brand of smartphones and also makes handsets for a number of leading US companies, including Google's Nexus One.

Patent lawsuits are a regular occurrence among technology giants. Apple is currently being sued by Finland's Nokia for patent infringement, and has fired back a countersuit against the mobile phone giant.

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User comments : 14

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_nigmatic10
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2011
Apple would be the only company on the planet that should have a designated spot in copyright infringement courts, outside of the judges spot.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (6) Dec 20, 2011
Before Apple had invented the cellular phone, no one had ever tapped on a piece of plastic before.

Buttons didn't exist back then and people had to pull little pieces of string in order to instruct calculators how to work.

Praise the Jobe. Praise the coming and going of him.
krundoloss
5 / 5 (9) Dec 20, 2011
How in the F$*% can you patent "One Touch Screen Commands". The Food industry has been using touch screens for 20 years. This is not patentable. If I touch my dogs nose to tell him no, can Apple sue me for that? God! When will it end!
Royale
5 / 5 (2) Dec 20, 2011
I know, right? Absolutely ludicrous. As long as Apple can keep shoving marketing to kids they're going to keep a foothold in the market... Unfortunately.
Oh and Vendicar, that was some damn fine sarcasm. =)
jdbertron
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2011
I'm with krundoloss. This is getting ridiculous.
extremity
5 / 5 (2) Dec 20, 2011
There shall be one patent to rule them all!
yogurtforthesoul
5 / 5 (2) Dec 20, 2011
Apple at this rate may litigate themselves into a situation where they are located on one side of the fence and the rest of the technological companies around the world on the other. They even sue the people that make their devices.

Some call that an empire, but if you play your cards wrong it's actually prison...
Pyle
not rated yet Dec 20, 2011
In an indirect strike at Microsoft, Apple has filed a complaint against the state of Washington for sale of products under their trademarked name and which bear a physical resemblance to their logo.
Tseihta
5 / 5 (1) Dec 20, 2011
Blame Apple all you want, but it's a lawyer game and the patent rules says it can be played as such. Change the ridiculous patent laws and this stuff disappears. If Apple wasn't doing it some other tech giant would be. So if you aren't fighting with the gloves off then don't bother showing up for the match.
CrowdedCranium
not rated yet Dec 20, 2011
Please excuse me. My memory is getting a bit fuzzy, didn't this all start with Jobs and Gates stealing xerox technology?
FrankHerbert
1.1 / 5 (52) Dec 20, 2011
Blame Apple all you want, but it's a lawyer game and the patent rules says it can be played as such. Change the ridiculous patent laws and this stuff disappears. If Apple wasn't doing it some other tech giant would be. So if you aren't fighting with the gloves off then don't bother showing up for the match.


So Capitalism encourages cheating is what you are saying.
Tseihta
not rated yet Dec 20, 2011
So Capitalism encourages cheating is what you are saying.


The form we have now? You bet. If you can get away with it... it's all 'fair'.
Royale
not rated yet Dec 21, 2011
Please excuse me. My memory is getting a bit fuzzy, didn't this all start with Jobs and Gates stealing xerox technology?


Sure did. Xerox's PARC facility was the first to come up with a highly functional GUI and mouse. They both stole the idea.
You should check out the movie 'Pirates of Silicon Valley'. It's a fairly accurate portrayal of what actually went down.
krundoloss
not rated yet Dec 22, 2011
I wish people would calm down with the patent sueing. Some advances are obvious and should not be patentable. A multitouch screen is patentable, but commands on a touch screen are not, because they are obvious. Of course you would pinch to zoom, what they heck else would you do? They just need to stop. Ideas will get stolen, especially by foreign companies.