After obtaining an import ban in late 2011 with the International Trade Commission against certain HTC Android devices found to be infringing a certain Apple patent, the iPhone maker filed a new motion with the ITC a few weeks ago arguing that several other smartphone made by the Taiwanese company infringe the same patent. Among the 29 devices listed by Apple in its new complaint you can also find the HTC One X and the HTC EVO 4G LTE, the company’s 2012 flagship devices.
Meanwhile, HTC has responded to Apple’s request to ban these 29 Android smartphones basically saying that Apple’s claims are unwarranted and that the iPhone maker should file a brand new suit with the ITC in order to obtain the ban the company is seeking.
HTC argues that the “data tapping” patent is not infringed by these devices, while Apple says that the Taiwanese smartphone maker has not taken the necessary steps to correct the issue, and therefore a ban is in order.
According to Foss Patents, HTC wants to prevent the ITC from “issuing temporary emergency relief, which could be another import ban or a requirement that HTC post a bond amounting to 100% of its U.S. revenues.” That’s certainly something HTC can’t agree with and the company says that a new investigation, which could take up to 18 months, is required in order for the ITC to issue a new ban.
What is the “data tapping” patent and why is it important to smartphone use? Simply put, whenever you see a phone number, email address or website in a text message or instant message, you can click it and initiate an action such as making a phone call, sending an email, visiting a website and others. The technology has been patented by Apple – U.S. Patent 5,946,647 awarded on August 31,1999 – and it appears to be a good enough weapon against Android so far because plenty of Android devices use it.
HTC said it found a way to circumvent it, but Apple feels it has a strong enough case against the Taiwan-based company to pursue another import ban. U.S. customs have already cleared some of the devices targeted by the new lawsuit, including the HTC EVO 4G LTE and the HTC One X, and both devices have started selling in the country once they were found not to be infringing Apple patents.
It will certainly be interesting to see how the ITC will rule on this particular Apple motion. And let’s not forget that the company is using the same weapon against other Android handset makers including Samsung and Motorola, albeit the later managed to score a victory in the U.S. yesterday where a Federal Judge dismissed Apple’s case against it with prejudice.