Mobile phone users may be unaware but there could be a ban of all Android phones, due to a preliminary court ruling from a US trade panel in favour of Apple. The telecommunications giant launched the controversial court case after it found that Taiwanese handset maker HTC were infringing on its patents. In a preliminary ruling last week, a court ruled that HTC were in breach of two patents and this decision may affect all Google Android phones and tablets in the U.S and ultimately lead to a ban. HTC uses Google’s Android operating system for its smartphones and now the case is being monitored closely by the mobile devices market.
This is the first time that Apple has taken on another smartphone maker who uses Android but the win could see Apple battle other Android handset makers or demand an import ban to the US against HTC. The problems appear to involve the way the data is processed and cover actions such as the device recognising phone numbers and being prompted to call them. Apple do not like the fact that Android contains a similar ‘analyser server’ for ‘detecting structures in the data’. Florian Mueller, who is a patent expert for VentureBeat says, “I have looked at those patents before and they appear to be very fundamental. They are very likely to be infringed by code that is at the core of Android.
Apple has sought court action against a main competitor many times before; they have also launched legal actions against Samsung, which also uses the Android, Nokia; and Microsoft and Motorola. HTC were initially accused of infringing10 patents but six were dropped from the case and the ITC judge ruled that HTC infringed two of the remaining four. A decision will be made on 6th December and HTC are reported as saying that they will ‘vigorously fight’ the findings by an International Trade Commission judge. HTC General Counsel Grace Lei said, “We are confident we have a strong case for the ITC appeals process. (We) are fully prepared to defend ourselves using all means possible.” Meanwhile, shares in HTC tumbled by 6.5 per cent on Monday. Watch this space!