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Apple Wins Early Preliminary Patent Victory Over HTC

July 17, 2011

HTC is vowing to challenge Friday’s initial US International Trade Commission ITC) ruling, which found that the Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer had infringed on two patents held by Apple.

The preliminary ruling, which was administered by an ITC judge, ruled that HTC devices infringed upon two of four patents that the California-based iPhone manufacturer. Apple had initially accused their rivals of infringing upon 10 patents, but six of those claims had been “dropped from the case for various reasons,” according to Reuters.

HTC General Counsel Grace Lei told Bloomberg’s William McQuillen and Yu-huay Sun that the company would “vigorously fight these two remaining patents through an appeal before the ITC commissioners who make the final decision.”

Furthermore, according to the Bloomberg reporters, she issued a separate statement saying that the handset manufacturer would use “all means possible” to defend themselves. The full commission will make the final decision in the matter, which is expected on December 6, according to Reuters.

Roger Cheng of CNET.com attempted to contact an Apple representative for comment, but says he was “referred back to the company’s initial statement when it filed the complaint last year.” In that statement, Cheng says that Apple CEO Steve Jobs is quoted as saying, “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”

A similar lawsuit, filed by Apple in the U.S. District Court in Delaware, is pending.

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

Cheng called it “a major blow” to HTC, manufacturers of smartphones such as the Evo and the Thunderbolt, adding that if an appeal is not successful, the company “will have to come to a settlement with Apple” and that the loss “would be a defeat for all Android supporters and could embolden Apple to take additional legal action.”

Bloomberg also reports that HTC has filed its own patent infringement complaint against Apple. The findings in that case are expected to be released on September 16.

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