Ina Fried

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Trade Body Says HTC Is Violating Apple Patent, Bans Some Imports

In a closely watched case, the U.S. International Trade Commission on Monday ruled that Taiwanese cellphone maker HTC is violating an Apple patent, and ordered an import ban on some of the company’s products.

The organization found that HTC devices infringed on two claims related to an Apple patent. However, the ban will not take effect until April, the ITC said in a ruling, giving time for carriers to make transition plans and for HTC to demonstrate ways it has avoided infringement (by working around the patent, dropping infringing features or other means).

“Notice is hereby given that the U.S. International Trade Commission has found a violation of section 337 in this investigation and has issued a limited exclusion order prohibiting importation of infringing personal data and mobile communications devices and related software,” the agency said. “The Commission has determined that exclusion of articles subject to this order shall commence on April 19, 2012.”

HTC will be able to import some refurbished products to satisfy repair claims on already sold products, but will not be able to bring new products into the country after April 19, unless the ruling is reversed or it can show its products no longer infringe the patent in question.

The ruling had been delayed several times.

HTC said in a statement that it was pleased the commission reversed a ruling that said HTC infringed on another of Apple’s patents, and that it narrowed the ruling on the patent in which it did find infringement.

“While disappointed that a finding of violation was still found on two claims of the ’647 patent, we are well prepared for this decision, and our designers have created alternate solutions for the ’647 patent,” HTC said.

Apple didn’t comment directly on Monday’s ruling, instead merely reiterating a past statement that “we think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”

Here’s the ruling:

Usitc Ruling Apple Htc

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