The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that HTC violated one of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) software patents--an action that caps a long and heated legal battle between the two companies. Perhaps more importantly, the ruling paves the way for Apple to take aim at other Android phone makers.
The ITC ruled that HTC's Android phones infringe on an Apple patent that covers the ability for users to click on a phone number in an email or text message and call the number, create a new contact for the number or send a text message to the number. The ITC ruled that HTC has until April to address the situation or its U.S. imports will be banned.
However, the ITC found that HTC did not infringe on a more complicated Apple patent that relates to how information is organized in a phone.
According to the New York Times, HTC said it plans to sidestep Apple's patent by removing the ability for users to click on a phone number and send a message to it or create a contact for it. In future products, users will only be able to call a number by clicking on it. Nonetheless, Apple now can leverage the patent against other Android vendors such as Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) and Samsung. Apple's former CEO, Steve Jobs, repeatedly made clear his belief that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) had "ripped off the iPhone" with its Android operating system.
The Apple case against HTC is but one of close to 100 patent lawsuits among cell phone makers, Florian Mueller, a patent analyst in Germany, told the New York Times. Indeed, the legal landscape is such that Google is working to acquire Motorola for a whopping $12.5 billion, in large part to gain access to Motorola's patents and use them to cover its growing Android business.
Apple-HTC patent dispute verdict is delayed a second time
HTC reassures market after cutting its Q4 revenue forecast
Apple squashes HTC complaint at ITC over S3 Graphics patents
Apple scores another patent victory over HTC
HTC expands legal fight against Apple using Google patents
HTC's Chou: Google's Motorola acquisition is good news