Earlier this week, Apple filed a new complaint against HTC with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in a second attempt at alleging patent infringement. Today, the ITC, which has the power to ban the importation of goods into the U.S., ruled that HTC has been infringing on 2 of the 4 patents asserted by Apple. This development has greater implications that could affect other Android device makers.
According to Florian Mueller of Foss Patents, the ITC decision today was an "initial determination" that would still require review by a six-member Commission. The original complaint involved ten patents but has been whittled down to four, with now two found as being infringed.
Although specific infringing devices were called out, mainly HTC models released prior to the new roster announced at February's MWC 2011 conference, the patents involved appear to be at the core of Android making it highly likely to be infringed by all Android devices.
The two patents are No. 5,946,647, a "system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data," and No. 6,343,263, a "real-time signal processing system for serially transmitted data." Both are rather broad and fundamental to the core of Android and are also linked to Apple's claims against Motorola.
Mueller says that a worst-case scenario could result in an import ban against not only HTC Android products but many other Android devices. Another possible outcome is that HTC would have to remove certain functionality from its devices and in turn degrade the quality of its products.
Mueller also believes that Apple is unlikely to grant a license to HTC, like how Microsoft handles its Android-related patent issues, if HTC doesn't have any patents that Apple needs in return.
[via Foss Patents]