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Android superstar HTC could be forced out of the U.S. market if rival gadget-maker Apple has its way in court.  (Source: Reuters / Pichi Chuang)
If you can't beat them, sue them to death

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) is piling on patent infringement complaints against Android giant HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) in hopes that it can convince the U.S. International Trade Commission to block the import of "personal electronic devices" by HTC into the U.S.  

The complaint, "In the Matter of Portable Electronic Devices and Related Software, Complaint NO. 2828, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington)", is the second in the case and follows the original complaint, "In the Matter of Certain Personal Data and Mobile Communications Devices and Related Software, and the HTC case against Apple is In the Matter of Portable Electronic Devices, 337-721" [PDF], filed 16 months ago, in 2010.  It is unclear why Apple filed a second complaint -- the ITC website does not list the contents of the complaint, merely the filing date, July 8.

On August 5 a federal judge will rule on whether to suggest that the ITC ban HTC's electronics imports, pending the outcome of Apple's two lawsuits against HTC [1][2].  That suggestion would be reviewed by the full presiding panel of judges before any final decision was made.

A blockage on U.S. shipments would be akin to financial disaster, if not outright death for the Taiwanese phonemaker.  The U.S. is HTC's most lucrative market, and without a steady supply of product it would see its revenue plunge.

If Apple is granted an injunction, HTC would likely be forced to try and settle.  However, given that Apple has fallen behind Android in sales, it is unclear whether Apple would accept a settlement, or would merely refuse to settle in order to kill the successful competitor.

HTC does have hope -- its recent acquisition, mobile chipmaker S3 Graphics Comp., beat Apple's ITC request in a similar case.  HTC scooped up S3 Graphics for a cool $300M USD in the hopes of strengthening its lineup of high-end smartphones.

On Sept. 16, an ITC judge will decide on whether to allow HTC's similar request to ban iPhone/iPad/iPod imports into the U.S., pending HTC's countersuit against Apple.

Apple has sued HTC, Motorola Solutions Inc. (MSI), and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (SEO:005930) -- the three largest Android companies.  The lawsuits come at a time when Apple has fallen 2-to-1 behind Android in smartphone sales globally.



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RE: This is getting out of hand
By kleinma on 7/11/2011 4:33:03 PM , Rating: 3
Yes and No. I am all for patent reform to protect against patent trolls who simply aquire patents and then hold them while never making any actual product or service using the patent, only to hold it over the heads of others who at some point do try.

However, in the case of Apple and Microsoft, they do actually make products, and they do actually compete in the market. So if Google/Android HS makers are using their IP without paying for it, then there should be some protections in place for the IP holders. That said, many patents are very very vauge and while it may be hard to argue certain ones that are considered "obvious". The vauge ones need to go, and the obvious ones need some more scrutiny (since obvious is relative to the time one actually looks at the patent to see how obvious it is, versus how obvious it may have been at the time it was filed). Something that seems obvious now, may have been never thought or heard of a few years back.


RE: This is getting out of hand
By bug77 on 7/11/11, Rating: -1
RE: This is getting out of hand
By vision33r on 7/11/2011 6:51:19 PM , Rating: 2
Pirate Bay and Limewire violated copyrights not patents.

Get your facts straight.


RE: This is getting out of hand
By WestleyTDPR on 7/11/2011 9:26:15 PM , Rating: 2
perhaps you should consider purchasing a mirror whilst we're on the subject of fact straightening, it may have been an irrelevant point made badly but no accusation of patent violation was made.

next time you try to jump down someones throat try not to leave your own jaw hanging.


RE: This is getting out of hand
By bug77 on 7/12/2011 6:27:28 AM , Rating: 2
Did I say they violated patents? I said they were taken offline for doing more harm than good (they were also relaying legit material). Which is what patents do these days.


RE: This is getting out of hand
By BZDTemp on 7/12/2011 4:35:27 AM , Rating: 2
Just for the record ThePirateBay is alive and well. Also I'm not sure they were ever ordered to shut down.


RE: This is getting out of hand
By tastyratz on 7/13/2011 9:23:37 AM , Rating: 2
lol to that. Not sure they were ever ordered to shut down? WHICH TIME. The difference is when told to shut down pickup shop and cease immediately they just replied... "no"


RE: This is getting out of hand
By AssBall on 7/11/2011 5:19:42 PM , Rating: 2
So HTC wouldn't be able to import until the results of the patent trials.

This would seem only fair if Apple was banned from importing their own hardware until the case is settled as well. Treat each as equals, don't defer to the plaintiff.


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