Apple’s just landed a major victory against HTC in a case where the latter was sued for violating patent #5,946,647, a patent which details a way to analyze and link data structures at the system level.
As this is a core functionality of Android’s, other OEMs are at risk. The final decision was a future ban of imports by the ITC starting in 2012. The ban affects HTC’s devices up to Android 2.2, but 2.3+ devices have not been incriminated yet.
HTC isn’t being vexed by this, though, as they state that alternate solutions to avoid violating this patent are already in the works. HTC has until April 19th, 2012 to get these solutions into newly-shipped phones as that is the point where the ban will come into effect. Current sales won’t be affected and they can still ship in refurbished units for consumers who need replacement phones until exactly two years from now.
But if HTC does indeed have plans to introduce a workaround for this violation, they don’t have much to worry about. It’s unclear if other OEMs will take precautionary measures if Apple happens to sue them and win. Here’s HTC’s statement in full:
We are gratified that the commission affirmed the judge’s determination on the ‘721 and ‘983 patents, and reversed its decision on the ‘263 patent and partially on the ‘647 patent. While disappointed that a finding of violation was still found on two claims of the ‘647 patent, we are well prepared for this decision, and our designers have created alternate solutions for the ‘647 patent.
So Apple won, but not in the way they might have wanted to. A workaround means HTC won’t have to pay Apple anything to license which is great because we’re not sure if Apple would have allowed them to license in the first place – we all know their motive is to get as much competition off the market as they can.
Oh, and as for Apple’s word? Here’s their one sentence sentiment:
We think competition is healthy but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.