The International Trade Commission (ITC) in the US has ruled in favor of Apple in HTC's original patent infringement complaint against the Cupertino company. Judge Charles Bullock issued the ruling today, stating that Apple did not violate any of the four patents in question. The complaint was filed back in 2010 and the patents involved basic functions like phone dialing and power management.
The patents were not invalidated, instead, the ITC simply found that Apple's iPads, iPhones, and iPods did not violate them. This preliminary decision will see a final hearing sometime in February of 2012. Although HTC and Apple still have other legal battlefields, this one is quite a setback for HTC, as it loses one major negotiation chip for reaching a settlement and saving itself from a possible injunction.
Apple initiated the legal scuffle between the two companies and is also embroiled in a multinational patent battle with Samsung, which is similarly facing a possible injunction here in the US. Despite carriers, such as T-Mobile and Verizon, issuing statements against the injunctions in support for Apple's opponents, there's a good chance that HTC and Samsung may have to remove some of their devices from the market. Apple has already won a ban on Samsung tablets in Germany and Australia.