HTC: ITC Apple decision "is a win for HTC"

HTC may have been banned from importing some of its smartphones into the US, but the company is still describing the outcome of its patent suit with Apple as a success. The US ITC "declared an actual victory for HTC" the company told the FT, because out of the ten infringements Apple alleged, only one was found to be valid. Meanwhile half of the claims on a previous ruling have also been rejected.

"This decision is a win for HTC and we are gratified that the commission affirmed the judge's determination on the '721 and '983 patents, and reversed its decision on the '263 patent and partially on the '647 patent. We are very pleased with the determination and we respect it. The '647 patent is a small UI experience and HTC will completely remove it from all of our phones soon" HTC investor statement

HTC has until April 19 to comply with the decision of the ITC, which either means modifying offending products or ceasing import of them by that point. It seems from the company's reaction to the ruling that it will be opting to tweak Android to bring it in line, something HTC claims will demand little effort.

"Since the infringing elements identified by the ITC involve and impact only a very minimal part of the user interface" HTC said in a statement to the Taiwanese stock exchange, "we will remove it as soon as possible and sell non-infringing products."

Although we've seen bizarrely upbeat reactions to apparently negative rulings from companies in the past, IP opinion seems to be leaning on the side of HTC with this particular judgement. "If I'm HTC – and particularly if I'm Google – I'm feeling a lot better today than if I'm Apple" former ITC vice-chairman Ron Cass has said, the elements the Cupertino company failed to persuade the court on being arguably more important than what, exactly, it did convince about.

Still, HTC faces more challenges than simply legal complaints. The company's recent revenues took a nose-dive as its late 2011 line-up failed to hold up to the competition, with HTC saying it will "focus on the product" next year to turn its fortunes around. That could include a pair of flagship devices, one Windows Phone and the other Android, details of which leaked yesterday.