May 30, 2012
HTC Phones Show Up On American Shores
Michael Harper for RedOrbit.com
Those Android lovers who have had their hearts set on a new HTC One X or EVO 4G LTE have reason to celebrate. For nearly a month, shipments of these devices have been held in captivity by US Customs in compliance with an ITC ruling. Yesterday, HTC announced these phones are now clear to leave customs and head their way towards carriers and customers alike.
“HTC has completed the review process with US Customs and HTC devices have been released, as they are in compliance with the ITC´s ruling,” said Tom Harlin, HTC spokesman, according to an email to Wired. “Future shipments should continue to enter the US and we are confident that we will soon be able to meet the demand for our products.”
In order to get around these patent issues, HTC had to shift the design of the new phones, therefore avoiding any disputes with a patent held by none other than Apple.
In accordance with the ITC order, all HTC shipments – those which have come and will come later – are to be cleared by customs before moving on to customers.
"Future inspections will likely take less time, which is a relief. But the fundamentals are still not optimistic, as competition from [Samsung's] Galaxy III and [Apple's] iPhone will continue to be tough," KGI Securities analyst Richard Ko told the Wall Street Journal.
The ITC ruled in December that the Android-based HTC phones violated an Apple patent from 1996 involving a data-detection function commonly found on mobile handsets.
The patent in question – Patent number 5,946,647 – covers the way a device automatically converts numbers, such as URLs and phone numbers, into live links in emails and text messages.
HTC was able to fix this issue before the block was set to go into effect, but customs officials had to inspect the new phones regardless to make sure they didn´t infringe these patents.
HTC announced last week that some shipments of the EVO 4G had been cleared by customs on May 22, but declined to give a specific timeline as to when the devices will go on sale in the US. The phone was planned to launch Statewide on May 18th.
Sprint – the designated carrier for the EVO 4G – has information on their website saying the phones were delivered to customers on Thursday to those who pre-ordered the phone.
As for the One X, HTC has said the customs hold-up could disrupt future sales of the new device. While the One X has already reached some carriers in the States, any further customs reviews could create a shortage for the Android smartphone.
At the All Things D conference last night, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about the current state of patents warfare in the tech world.
“What I´m saying is, Apple has not sued anyone over standards essential patents that we own, because we view that it´s fundamentally wrong to do that. The intention was some payment be made. And we can always argue about the payment, and there has to be a forum for resolving those disputes,” Cook said to Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher.