updated 06:05 pm EDT, Fri July 15, 2011
Apple gets partial win in ITC complaint vs HTC
Apple landed a crucial blow in its patent fight with HTC Friday when the ITC found that HTC had violated two Apple patents. The ruling on Apple's original complaint would block the import of infringing devices and would force it to take those devices off the market in the US. Most of those devices in the original dispute included older Android hardware like the Nexus One but also some Windows Mobile-era hardware.
HTC planned to "vigorously" defend itself and appeal the ruling. The Taiwan phone designer also tried to downplay the impact and said it was just "one step of many," such as its own ITC dispute.
If upheld, the determination could still put many of the cards in Apple's hands. It filed a second ITC complaint this week using different patents but with more modern phones at stake. HTC would have to get its own wins to have a bargaining chip, and if not would have to settle if it wanted to avoid product bans.
The current complaint also has matching lawsuits that could deliver a heavier financial penalty to HTC, even if none of the products are on shelves. Companies in patent fights often use the ITC to help fast track a lawsuit by removing doubt as to which patents are at stake.
Apple has alleged that HTC is copying the iPhone but is widely known to be using the lawsuit as a way of slowing down Android. HTC has fought back and argued that Apple was suing instead of competing.