US HTC phones circumvent Apple's patents

Apple has managed to score a victory against HTC, with the ITC finding that its Android phones infringed a patent dealing with context menus. It may be short lived, however, as it has been discovered that HTC is shipping a custom version of Android in the United States without such context menus in order to circumvent the block. The Verge has confirmed that the AT&T HTC One X and HTC EVO 4G LTE both exclude the infringing feature.

The ITC found that HTC's messaging app was infringing on Apple's patent, along with the stock Android browser and messaging app. The patent in question deals with the action performed when a user clicks on a phone number or email address – currently, an option menu pops up asking the user what they want to do, which HTC has been found to be infringing on. The One X and EVO 4G LTE remove this action, instead launching straight into the dialler or email client.

Devices sold in the United States also feature a new menu in the Settings which show app associations, allowing the user to manually change what app opens when you select a number or email address. The international HTC One X, meanwhile, doesn't have such a menu: the menu actions appear as soon as you select an address or number.

Right now it's not clear if the different software will let HTC get the One X and EVO 4G LTE through the customs block. It does potentially spell trouble for Android manufacturers, who may have to ship different versions of their software across the world in order to avoid patent troubles.