Bad News for Android: ITC Rules HTC Violated Two Apple Patents
The U.S. International Trade Commission has issued an initial determination in Apple’s patent infringement suit against HTC, and it’s bad news for the Taiwanese phone maker.
On Friday, the ITC, which has the power to ban the importation of goods into the States, ruled that HTC infringed two of the four patents (originally 10) Apple asserted against it: 5,946,647 and 6,343,263. The first describes a “system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer,” the second a “real-time signal processing system for serially transmitted data.” According to the ITC, HTC has infringed claims 1, 8, 15 and 19 of the ’647 patent and 1, 2, 24 and 29 of the ’263 patent.
Notably, at least one — the so-called ’647 patent — appears to be related to Android, which would effectively make today’s ruling the first to find that Google’s mobile OS infringes on another’s patents. “They are very likely to be infringed by code that is at the core of Android,” says IP expert Florian Mueller. “It’s telling that those two patents are also at issue between Apple and Motorola.”
So obviously, a blow to HTC and potentially to Android as well. If HTC violated ’647, it’s conceivable that other Android manufacturers have as well. That said, it’s important to note that this ruling is still subject to review by the full six-member ITC commission, so it’s far too early to declare a victor. And HTC has already vowed to appeal the determination.
“HTC will vigorously fight these 2 remaining patents through an appeal before the ITC Commissioners who make the final decision,” HTC general counsel Grace Lei said in a statement. “We are highly confident we have a strong case for the ITC appeals process and are fully prepared to defend ourselves using all means possible.”
Google, for its part, doesn’t seem too worried about the ruling. “We’re pleased that the ITC ruled against all of Apple’s operating system patent claims,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “We are confident the Commission will ultimately agree with the ITC staff’s finding that HTC does not violate any of Apple’s patents. Litigation that attacks open-source products limits consumer choice, hurts the economy, and discourages innovation.”