Android Blow: HTC’s Apple Case Thrown Out


It looks like Apple 1: HTC 0, as the Desire maker’s case against its iPhone foe is thrown out by the US International Trade Commission. HTC allege Apple infringed S3 Graphics patents, which governs how 3D images appear on mobile device screens.

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The Taiwanese giant alleged violations of four US patents, numbered, 6,658,146, 6,683,978 6,775,417 and 7,043,087, in a case lodged in 2010.

In turn, it sought to ban the import and sale of Apple iPhone, iPad, iPods and even Mac PCs in the US. 

A ruling earlier this year had found Apple was in breach of S3 patents on Mac products but not the iPhone or iPad, but this latest decision throws out HTC’s case in full.

And it now it looks like the smartphone maker’s second case against its rivals is likely to flop also.

“Notice is hereby given that the U.S. International Trade Commission has determined that no violation of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 has been shown in the above-captioned investigation and that the investigation is terminated,” the ITC judgement, released yesterday, reads. 

A Judge had already ruled Apple was not in breach of the patents in question last month, finding “no infringement” took place but this latest ruling appears to kill off the Android carrier’s claims against iOS.

HTC say they are “disappointed” at the outcome, deliberated by a six panel judge and would weigh up whether to appeal the decision.

It strategically sought to buyout S3 Graphics for US$300 million in the hope of building some patent stockpiles against Apple as it battles the giant on several fronts.

“We are disappointed, but respect the ITC’s decision,” Grace Lei, general counsel for HTC, said.

“While the outcome is not what we hoped for, we will review the ruling once the commission provides it and will then consider all options, including appeal.”

The ITC is to give its full reasoning for the judgement in the coming days.

Foss patents expert, Florian Mueller, reckons the latest decision doesn’t bode well for HTC in their wider patents battle against Apple and that it is “the best possible outcome” for Cupertino.

“It’s a setback for HTC, which is in the process of acquiring S3 Graphics and was hoping to gain leverage against Apple.”


“HTC’s own first ITC complaint against Apple is rather unlikely to result in a finding of any violation. An Administrative Law Judge made an initial determination of no violation, and the ITC staff (the Office of Unfair Import Investigations) does not appear to oppose the ALJ’s position.”

Apple is also suing HTC, known as the anti-Apple brand, for alleged patent infringements in two separate cases.

Judgement should be forthcoming on December 6 next on one of these and will be telling as to whether Android is going anywhere in its fights against iOS.

“Apple’s win strikes the first blow in its wide-ranging patent fight with HTC,” Mike Abramsky, RBC Capital Markets analyst, said in a note yesterday.

But this Apple win over HTC is important for one other reason – recent figures show the Android carrier shipped more than 5.7 m smartphones in the United States in Q3 – beating arch rival Apple by 1.1 m units.

Apple’s ongoing battle with Samsung and its Android Galaxy Tab 10.1 is set for a full hearing Friday next in Sydney’s Federal Court.

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