SAN JOSE, Calif. – The U.S. International Trade Commission handed Apple a narrow victory in its suit alleging the Android smartphones of Taiwan's HTC violates Apple's patents. Separately, British Telecom joined the mobile patent wars, alleging in a suit in U.S. District Court in Delaware that Google violates six of its patents.
HTC has until April 19 to stop violating a patent on making a phone call or a calendar entry by tapping on a phone number or date. Observers said HTC can work around the patent or temporarily eliminate the feature from its phones to avoid disruption of its sales.
The ITC did not find infringement on any of the other nine patents in the Apple case. Some of those patents, including one on signal processing techniques, would have been harder for HTC to work around.
"This ruling falls far short of anything [that] would force HTC out of the U.S. market in the near term," said Florian Mueller, who runs a Web site that closely follows the mobile patent wars. "Apple will need a higher hit rate in the future, and it will have to enforce patents that are greatly more impactful than this one," Mueller wrote.
The ITC case is one of nearly 100 between top smartphone players such as Apple, Android partners and Microsoft. It could take a year or two before the impact of the cases becomes clear, said Mueller in an interview for an EE Times-Confidential analysis.
Meanwhile, British Telecom joined the fray. It charged Google violated six patents in its Android and other software. The patents cite ways to create networked services and navigate information on them.