Trade panel says HTC infringed on 2 Apple patents

By William McQuillen
Bloomberg News / July 17, 2011

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SAN FRANCISCO - Apple Inc. won a US International Trade Commission ruling in a patent-infringement case targeting HTC Corp.’s Android-based mobile telephones.

HTC, Asia’s second-largest maker of smartphones, said Friday it was found to have infringed two of 10 Apple patents originally asserted in the case. Administrative Law Judge Carl Charneski’s finding, which hasn’t been made public, is subject to review by the full six-member commission in Washington.

HTC will “vigorously fight these two remaining patents through an appeal before the ITC commissioners who make the final decision,’’ Grace Lei, general counsel for the Taoyuan, Taiwan-based company, said in an e-mail. HTC has “alternate solutions in place’’ to work around the patents, she said.

Should the commission uphold the finding, the ITC may ban US imports of some HTC phones that run on Google Inc.’s Android, the most popular smartphone operating system in the United States. The HTC decision may serve as a barometer for other cases Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple has against makers of Android devices, including Samsung Electronics Co. and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.

The ITC is a quasi-judicial arbiter of trade complaints that has become the venue of choice for resolving patent disputes. Nokia Oyj, which had been targeted in the same ITC complaint, reached a settlement with Apple last month. Mountain View, Calif.-based Google wasn’t a party in the case.

An Apple spokeswoman, Kristin Huguet, declined to comment on the findings.

One of the patents in the HTC case involved data-detection technology used in e-mail and text messages, while another related to a data-transmission system.

Apple earlier this month accused HTC in a separate complaint of infringing five patents related to software architecture and user interfaces, hardware for touchscreens, and movement sensors. Apple is seeking to block US imports of the Taiwanese company’s new Flyer tablet computers as well as its Droid Incredible, Wildfire, EVO 4G, and Desire phones.