How HTC has side-stepped Apple’s patent in the HTC EVO 4G LTE

Apple-patent

The delay of the HTC EVO 4G LTE is due to one, single, tiny patent held by Apple: #5,946,647. According to Google's patent database, this particular patent was filed all the way back in 1996, and the full text is as follows:

A system and method causes a computer to detect and perform actions on structures identified in computer data. The system provides an analyzer server, an application program interface, a user interface and an action processor. The analyzer server receives from an application running concurrently data having recognizable structures, uses a pattern analysis unit, such as a parser or fast string search function, to detect structures in the data, and links relevant actions to the detected structures. The application program interface communicates with the application running concurrently, and transmits relevant information to the user interface. Thus, the user interface can present and enable selection of the detected structures, and upon selection of a detected structure, present the linked candidate actions. Upon selection of an action, the action processor performs the action on the detected structure.

Apple claims that since HTC's and Android's messaging and email apps recognize information such as phone numbers, web links, and addresses, and since a user is presented with a list of possible applications that can handle that information when selected, HTC is therefore in violation of this patent.

On the other hand, HTC claims that this is already fixed in a custom user interface that it designed specifically for the EVO 4G LTE and the US version of the HTC One X. But what exactly did HTC do to fix this?

It's quite simple, really. Instead of stripping functionality from the stock messaging and email apps, HTC decided to create a new option in the Settings menu: we now have an App associations option.

App-associations

When selected, this opens a list of various activities that the phone can handle, along with the apps that will deal with them. For example, I have Chrome beta set up to handle all URLs.

App-associations-2

This is really a simple solution, and I actually prefer this method over the old one. Previously, if I wanted to change an app association, I'd have to go into my app settings, find the app in question, and clear all of its defaults. Now, I have everything in one place, which makes customization much easier in the long run.

I'm confident that it's only a matter of time before the silliness of this "infringement" is realized by either US Customs or a court. So sit tight; your shiny new EVOs will be here before you know it.

[The Verge | Google Patents]
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John F

John was the editor-in-chief at Pocketables. His articles generally focus on all things Google, including Chrome and Android, although his love of new gadgets and technology doesn't stop there. His current arsenal includes the Nexus 6 by Motorola, the 2013 Nexus 7 by ASUS, the Nexus 9 by HTC, the LG G Watch, and the Chromebook Pixel, among others.