updated 07:45 pm EDT, Fri September 16, 2011
ITC to review Apple victory in HTC patent dispute
The ITC on Thursday issued a decision (below) that it would grant HTC a review of Apple's patent dispute win. An Administrative Law Judge will reexamine 16 issues spread across all four patents that were originally in Apple's complaint. The examination will look again at both the infringement itself as well as the patents' validity and the claim constructions inside.
HTC may be focusing most of its attention on a real-time API patent that it was found to be infringing in the original July ruling. It stands as one of the broader patents and might be the hardest to avoid with a redesign if the patent is upheld. The other patent it was found to be infringing, one on data tapping, isn't likely to be completely overturned.
The decision, in spite of mostly going HTC's direction, is a partial win for Apple. A slim chance exists that the ITC might find HTC to have been violating one or both of the other two patents and worsen HTC's condition. HTC may consider it a zero-risk venture, since it would already be in serious difficulty if the verdict was upheld and might see some of the earlier ruling overturned.
HTC made extensive claims about the importance of tossing Apple's victory in the case. It asserted that 36 percent of Android phones in the US were its own and that being forced out of the market would "eliminate the most popular brand" of Android phones. The firm went so far as to suggest it would have broad implications for US society as a whole, as HTC's absence and the impact on Android would hurt the "public health, safety, and welfare concerns" of individual Americans.
The company hasn't waited for a decision, expected in or before December, to act. It has filed a countersuit. Odds are still mounting against it with a second Apple challenge at the ITC possibly compounding HTC's problems.