Apple wins case against HTC, implications for Android players

18 Jul 2011

The US International Trade Commission has granted a legal victory to Apple in a patent dispute against Taiwanese phone maker HTC over who owns touchscreen technology.

Apple won a preliminary ruling from the commission and may now go after HTC and other Android phone companies for licence fees or pursue an import ban against the devices. Originally, HTC sought to ban all iPhone, iPad and iPod products from being imported in the the US.

The ruling will no doubt be watched closely by Samsung, which is also locked in a patent battle against Apple.

The commission awarded the case to Apple on the strength of patents that were filed in 1996 and awarded in 1999 that cover the “system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer generated data” and which allows emails and phone numbers to be recognised and activated on a smartphone or computer device.

A second patent, which was filed in 1994, covers “real-time signal processing for serially transmitted data.”

It came to light recently that various Android phone makers are paying Microsoft US$5 per handset for licensing rights after it emerged Android infringed a number of Microsoft patents.

No doubt manufacturers, including HTC, Samsung, Motorola, LG and Sony Ericsson, are less than impressed with the US International Trade Commission decision to support Apple, which may also demand licence fees from Android phone makers.

Photo: The HTC Sensation

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years