International Trade Commission sides with Apple, bans import of HTC devices

Traditionally, Apple has been quite happy to sue anyone who they think may be infringing on their patents. Usually these lawsuits end in settlement, but occasionally the consequences are more serious for the defendant. Today marks one of those days, as the International Trade Commission has just ruled to block the import and sale of some HTC smartphones in the US.

This ban is the result of a patent infringement case in which Apple asserted that HTC is violating its patent #5,946,647, which relates to data analysis. Interestingly, the patent covers a system used to "detect and perform actions on structures identified in computer data," which is a technology most software, not just Android or HTC's Sense, takes advangage of. 

Despite this, unless the president vetoes the decision within 60 days, the ban will take effect on April 19, 2012. The actual HTC devices that will be affected are not known, but considering the nature of the patent it could be any of the company's flagship smartphones.

This seems to me to be a pretty serious ruling. Baning even some of HTC's handsets will be terrible for competition, and a patent as broad as this with a ruling to back it up could likely be used against numerous other manufacturers as well.

While technically the patent may be completely valid, this kind of ruling only reinforces my thinking that the current patent system has some serious problems. We certainly need to protect innovation, but patents, especially those as broad as this one, should not be able to be used to exclude a competitor from the market.

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Aaron Orquia

Aaron Orquia is an associate editor at Pocketables. He has been using Android and Linux since he bought his first computer years ago, and his interest in technology, software, and tweaking both to work just right has only grown stronger since then. His current gadgets include a OnePlus One, a Pebble smartwatch, and an Acer C720 Chromebook.

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