HTC One X and EVO 4G LTE Shipping with Custom Software Builds To Work Around Apple Patent


So, yesterday, we learned that the AT&T HTC One X and Sprint’s upcoming HTC EVO 4G LTE had been delayed in the US due to Apple’s how-the-hell-did-it-get-granted “link” patent. Patent #5,946,647 deals with the now standard Android method of clicking a link (like in email) and being presented with a menu displaying a list of apps you want to launch from there. Apparently, Apple’s got this locked down. Looks like something like this has never been done before in the history of software and Apple is fully responsible for this “invention.” (Sigh)

Anyway, there was a lot of talk and anger (and suspicions) on why HTC — who knew for the longest time exactly what this patent dealt with, after facing Apple in court — didn’t attempt to sidestep Apple’s patent, as to avoid action like the delays we’re seeing today (and during a crucial time for HTC financially). Well, as it turns out — they did.

This feature of a menu popup after clicking a link has been removed in the new version of Sense for HTC’s US devices. Now, clicking a link will automatically launch the appropriate app giving Android users slightly less usability, but also avoids Apple’s legal team. If a user wants to specify which links will launch which app, there is a new option inside the Settings app that deals with links called “App Associations.” Boom.

I can see in my mind’s eye… A top level Apple exec gets a hold of an international One X. He scrolls through the device only to find his patent brazenly ignored by the rival smartphone manufacturer. His face turns blood red and eyes widen. He rushes to grab the telephone, calling up the top officials at the ITC and US Customs, demanding they block the biggest threat to their upcoming iPhone 5 — HTC’s One X and EVO 4G LTE. Little does he know, the US versions shipped with tweaked software. HTC be trollin’.

It’s still unclear if Customs will see things our way. It’s very possible they could still interpret HTC’s new method of handling links as a violation of Apple’s patents. But, providing HTC’s workaround is adequate, we could see this whole mess sorted out a lot sooner than later. Let’s hope those One’s and Evolte’s will be in everyone’s hands again shortly.


Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. I just don’t understand how this has anything to do with HTC. Isn’t this a operating system option? My Gnex has this, and my dX had this, also think it was on my first HTC Eris.

    I hope not all Android devices have to change over to this option it’s awesome being able to change defaults on the fly. I can’t believe Apple was even awarded this patent since different PC operating systems have been using things like this for a long time.

    1. You’re totally right. Apple has been doing this for a long time now. They attack top Android OEM’s that pose the biggest threat to them, all over OS level stuff.

      Basically, they’re trying to eliminate the competition without directly going after Google. OEM’s are the ones afraid of Apple’s legal team. I’m sure one day Apple will go after Google, but for whatever reason, are choosing to not wake up the “sleeping giant” just yet.

      1. They want some win’s under there belt. This is why they went after HTC over this patient instead of all the other OEM’s because by comparison they are one of the weakest. Think of a future lawsuit over this patient to say Samsung. They could just reference this case which they won and say that the judge ruled in there favour in this case. If that happened the validity of the patient couldn’t be questioned (it’s already been enforced) and then the trail would solely be based on whether or not the OEM is infringing on the patient (which as its AOSP built in it would technically).

        1. I’m sorry doctor, the patient is dead.

  2. How in hell did Apple win that patent claim? , You must be joking

    1. The same way OJ got off…. High priced Lawyers can bend reality better than the best Hollywood Director.

    2. I guess patent judges aren’t the most tech savvy. Too bad Einstein isn’t still around to be a patent clerk…

      I was driving behind a new Honda Insight the other day thinking to myself how it looks EXACTLY like the Prius. Is Toyota suing Honda for blatantly ripping off the design? No. Toyota knows competition breeds innovation, so they back off. Well, at least Toyota knows the Prius is a better car than the Insight, so they back off. If Apple is so worried about Android phones, why don’t they MAKE A PHONE THAT’S BETTER!

      1. Technically the Prius didn’t look like the Insight until the 2nd generation Prius (XW20) was released in 2003. So your analogy is backwards. Sorry to be “that guy”.

    3. In a word, Germany.

  3. What the HELL? That’s the patent????

    What kind of EFFIN DOPE are the courts smoking to uphold that?????

    Someone needs to SCHOOL SOME JUDGES.

    Not to mention, that just guaranteed I’m not touching an HTC One with a 50 foot pole, as that’s a BASIC and ESSENTIAL feature, which has been on all computing platforms for years. But Apple? I’d use a clay tablet and a stick to scrawl out messages before I’d buy Apple.

    1. why would that stop you from buying an htc one?…clearly apple is gonna start blocking EVERY good phone that’s a threat to them with this patent. The only downside is the possibility of delay. You just gotta say bye bye to that feature until the patent system in this country gets an update. The work around seems fine anyway.

      1. All of my stock nexus phones have done this as well as my old g1! for me to even consider picking up an htc one x would essentially be a software downgrade!!!!! I completely understand where alvin is coming from. The thing that is completely messed up is the fact that my brother has an iphone 4s and it doesnt even utilize the patent that apple is supposedly protecting. This is by far one of the most disturbing articles ive read concerning apples’s patent abuses

        1. its a few more clicks to step around it. the first time you click a link do you not click “always use this option” or whatever the check mark is? now you just have to go to a menu to do this. you bet your ass the GS3 will have this blocked too

          1. Well easy way to get around it, is buy the international version and not the US version, or root you’re phone and install a different rom. Simples :D But really what a stupid patent to have granted!

          2. Actually, I don’t check that box as I prefer it to ask me since I don’t always want to use one or the other all of the time.

    2. I am sure that Apple Lobbies the crap out of those judges with their billions of dollars created by over priced technology.

  4. That has got to be one of the biggest bullshit patents I’ve seen from Apple yet. Patent law needs some serious house cleaning.

  5. Please get my Evo to me Tuesday or Wednesday….

  6. Good. Apple’s IP needs to be protected!

    1. They don’t even use this feature within their precious iphones, this is a feature that android has had and utilized since the original g1. I do believe i also had this feature on my old Helio Ocean i currently use it today on my galaxy Nexus. If this was merely about protecting an ip (that they dont even use) why not just go after google directly! This is a B.S. patent that should have NEVER been granted. this is such a common place feature standard within most modern software… except for iOS; go figure.

  7. I find this to be STUPID. Apple doesn’t even use this in iOS. If they have a software patent. They should be using it.

    1. Haha, exactly my thinking. I was trying to remember where exactly Apple uses this on iOS, then realized they didn’t :D Apple is such a messed up company.

  8. That removes a lot of functionality… that popup is extremely important to me. I like having the option of choosing which browser opens what link, and whether I want a browser or YouTube app to open a YT link. Also which email to use to respond, Email or Gmail. That’s just horrible.. one more reason not to buy a One X, but this time it’s Apple’s fault :(

    1. Or more reason to buy a one x to spite Apple

    2. I came off as hateful of the One X, my bad. I actually really like it, just a few things bother me about it. This is one of them, that function in Android is a bit essential to me.

      1. all android phones will suffer because of this. just because the ONE x is the first doesn’t mean its the last. just wait till GS3 shipments start to come in

        1. Dear god, I hope not

          1. It’s called precedent. Your only hope is that the devs revert the feature back when they mod roms and kernels.

          2. dp… uhg.

          3. Simply rename or delete HtcLinkifyDispatcher.apk.

            problem solved.

  9. An easy work around would be an app from the market that enables this feature, kinda like installing gapps after flashing an ASOP ROM.

  10. That patent was filed in early 1996. Before we rush to judge the patent system, are we sure that this feature was already used BEFORE 1996 by someone other than apple?

    1. This is basically the same thing as right clicking a file in windows with the open as option. A feature I’ve been using for as long as I can remember, since at least win 95.

    2. You mean before we rush to judge the patent system that embarrassed us all with the patent on making toast as the bread freshing method?

      Yeah, pretty sure that the patent system got woefully broken due to legislation in the dot com days (note – this precious 1996 filing didn’t pass until that legislation happened in 1999).

      And yes – it had been done before 1996.

  11. The leaked ics roms for the evo 3D have this built in. Personally, I miss the old way but it isn’t the end of the world. I’m sure that some of the devs will figure it out for the flashers out there

  12. I’d like to patent “links” on something called the “internet”

    Sure Steve, here ya go!

    1. I heard BT (British Telecom) tried to patent hyperlinks a few years back, but I’m not sure they got it granted. Still, one can dream about Apple having to update iOS to remove all hyperlink functionality!

  13. They shouldn’t even need a workaround. This is just stupid.

  14. Every time I start to feel not that hostile to Apple they go and pull crap like this. Down with Apple!! Long live Android!!

  15. I have a question to someone who knows for sure. Is Apple using this technology in their Iphones Ipads or Mac devices? If not I just took a Business Law class and we went over patents according to the book in order to keep a patent is it has to be implemented in order to keep that specific patent, if Apple is not using this then how can they say HTC is infringing???

  16. Is it me or is Apple hating on htc really hard don’t you guys think

  17. Hmmm suspiously like on windows when you click open a file and it ask’s you which program should run the file. The is also a checkbox (exactly the same as on android) to let the program open it next time.

  18. Apple and the US patent office can kiss my shiny metal butt!

  19. NBA- Never Buy Apple

  20. F Apple.

  21. this doesn’t work like it should, though, as there’s no option for things like links for YouTube. to disable their workaround, you must be rooted. just rename HtcLinkifyDispatcher.apk to HtcLinkifyDispatcher.apk.bak =) now you’ll get that pop-up window back.

    1. Awesome tip! Thanks :)

  22. I think Google (Android ) needs to attack Apple and sue them over the use Of the Notification pull down menu in ios 5.

    1. They can’t. Android is open source. Many of features are licensed under GNU and GPL licenses. Open source, open to all.

      Cannot wait for iOS 6 to see what features they ripped from Android.

      1. Not quite. Android is open-source under the Apache License, which requires the preservation of the copyright and disclaimer. I’m pretty sure Apple doesn’t thank and/or credit Google/AOSP/Android for the notifications features in iOS.

  23. Isn’t Cook’s policy to simply license rather than sue? If so, this is just a maneuver to drive up the licensing costs.

  24. To get that patented….Apple must be paying off the patent office/govt big time or something. Why do they think they created everything???

  25. The problem is apple saw how useful it is for us and are putting it in the iPhone 5 and that’s where they’re gonna prove they’re using it. I’m just waiting for the day a judge asks apple “aren’t you tired of this yes?” or “get out of my court room case dismissed!”

  26. They might as well Sue Microsoft also, cause all Windows computers comes with that option when you connect a device to it. Apple Sucks Big Apple NutZ

    1. Also Samsung should stop making screens for apple just for that crap.

  27. Just two things come to mind. First, why didn’t they go with this the first time, seems like a much better method of getting things done. Secondly, PATENT THIS BEFORE APPLE DOES!

  28. This can be only good advertising for HTC…. Now everyone knows about One X ;)
    Apple … in their ignorance managed to bring this issue as headlines on all the tech web-magazines around the world….
    Thanks Apple for showing you’re a jerk and making free ads to HTC. What do you think you accomplished ?

    1. If they make it hard enough to get phones imported, they could kill HTC, or they could dissuade carriers from buying HTC phones, which would also kill HTC.

  29. Sean76: appleton aunt sue over this time because android is an open source OS. That is unlikely always will b android biggest downfall.

  30. What they don’t get is the more crap like this they pull, the more people hate Apple. I have 2 friends that were die hard Apple people. But they have now said their next phone will not be Apple because of stuff like this.

    Love it.

    1. That’s the case with me, actually. I do like the iPhone and OS X, but I have been completely turned off by the patent trolling and how iOS is so locked down. So it’s Android henceforth for me.

  31. Makes the guy who invented the pet rock look like an innovator.

  32. Die Apple Die

  33. Seriously, presenting a list of apps that can open a link, that’s been around since the windows 95, how can this be an patent. Patent Law is so freaking stupid.

  34. HTC should sue Apple for this b.s.

  35. This has been in Windows since forever. How is it different for a phone OS?

    1. It is not the same thing. Patents are usually very specific. Windows, opens a browser when you click a link. During the browser install it asks you if you want to make it the default “app” to handle hyperlinks. Apples patent says that when you click a link it opens a menu that offers you a choice of apps to choose from. Completely different.

  36. Only apple

  37. This action by apple is a new low even for them. It has made me make a personal vow to Never buy anything apple . (Which wont be that hard since their products are overpriced and underperformaing anyway).


  39. So if the first person that invented the “DOOR” was an apple employee, all of our houses would have been without doors ? or pay apple as you open the door every time type of thing?

  40. I got a message from Best Buy saying that they are now releasing the phone on May 23rd next week. So it sounds like the Apple terrorism nightmare is over!

  41. The problem is Apple, not HTC….they need to get their heads out of their asses. The iphone is out of date, old, and my android can do 20times more thing than an iphone can….grow up and stop suing everyone.

  42. I just emailed asking for updates here is what I wrote.
    “This is not a question or comment, more or less a complaint. I was one of several who pre-ordered the new HTC Evo 4G LTE and like several of them we were patiently waiting for our phones to be shipped within hours of the hold y’all placed on this device and the One X. We want updates and answers, how fast you are working to check on this issue. What if any investigation is being held. Has there been a patent infringed upon? When could we expect to see these devices in hand and on shelves. The investigation should be simple, turn on device go to area of interest that has the potential to be illegally placed on the device and check yes or no. If yes HTC can send an update to remove if no give us our phones that we paid for!” I think we should all start emailing and demand answers.

  43. Apple …… I dislike your products now…..Apple why recently you guys are just Doing multi task?…..Apple why do you guy now have pull down notification bar? Apple fuck you and your worms..

  44. What reasonable Judge would allow Apple’s bull shit lawsuit upheld. This is absolutely ridiculous and I smell a fuc—- skunk. I have never disliked a company as much as I dislike Apple strictly on their business practices. They will regret this kind of petty crap. They are using in their phones many many stolen patents from Palm and other companies. It will all come back to bite them in the ass very soon.

  45. This new method is even present in my pre-release official ICS on my Amaze. It took me a while to figure out how to change out the default browser.

    I hate Apple for this

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