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ITC Rules that HTC Infringes on Apple Patent, Devices Subject to Ban in April 2012

The ITC (International Trade Commission) has ruled today that HTC infringes on one of Apple’s patents and will face a ban on their products starting April 2012 here in the U.S. The patent in question has to do with formatted data that can be interacted with, such as a phone number in an email. That’s right, if you tap on a phone number through Gmail and it performs an action, you are infringing on an Apple patent.

HTC has already responded to the ruling, claiming that they have a workaround in place. There is no telling exactly what that will be, but today’s ruling would seem to put all Android phone manufacturers at risk. This is a native Android feature to my knowledge, so we will likely need Google to come up with a workaround themselves that can be applied to all Android phones.

It’s lame, but if Apple was truly the first company on Earth to make formatted info tap-able and has a patent for it, what can you do. We will all want to pay attention to the next couple of months though, as HTC and Google work to come up with some sort of fix. An April deadline has been set.

Via:  Engadget, BGR

  • So tapping a URL violates an Apple patent? Uhm.. excuse me but URLs and color links that perform an action such as opening a webpage, etc, have been around since the Internet has existed. Relating to something closer to this, in Windows, Skype automatically translates phone numbers into clickable links that will open the Skype dialer. Does this violate a “patent” too? -.-

  • Anonymous

    Go read the apple payent and see references to other payents, like sony’s payent, that were similar… You can modify/improve something that has a patent and get a patent. Thus a reference to ‘prior art.’ There were tablets prior to 1991 and 1996 that used stylus inputs… improve and patent-that is sll Apple did. Go READ the patent…

  • Just because you came up with a idea Apple doesn’t mean you own it. I have a feeling Google will show them the meaning of that saying soon.

  • Sam

    “It’s lame, but if Apple was truly the first company on Earth to make
    formatted info tap-able and has a patent for it, what can you do.”

    Apple was NOT the first to do this! A non-Apple piece of software called SideKick (from Borland International) had this feature in the 1980s…at least a decade before Apple obtained the patent. The U.S. has a clear prior art provision in its patent law so unless I’m missing something, this ruling is comical.

    More info on the SideKick feature: http://www.reddit.com/r/Android/comments/n4o93/i_have_found_preexisiting_features_in_1980s/

  • this is why patents are evil. 

  • This makes me a sad patent infringement panda.  This is everything that is wrong with the patent system.

  • Anonymous

    No one is going to be banned, anywhere.  The long and short of it is there will be drawn out legal battles, ultimately there will be a settlement, and we’ll all go on with our lives.  Some of us with iPhones, a lot more of us with Androids (there already are a lot more of us).

  • I know how they feel. i just lost a patent battle with apple as well. they say my soul is shaped too much like a rectangle. they suggested i give it a more cluttered design so as not to have it look like the iphone. now i’m sad.

  • Gunner42

    Apple will push its self out of contention in the market.  You can’t force people to buy your product.  I myself will never purchase an another apple product.

  • EricM

    I will NEVER be an Apple customer because of crap like this.

  • steve lucking

    I have never said this before, but I now HATE apple. They are money hungry [email protected] who are hell bent on finishing Steve Jobs mission to bring android down even though its been proven android was doing this 2 years before apple. I am glad i have never bought one of their overpriced lemming/sheep/personality-less products. 
    Go to H3ll apple.
    HTC…..make the number a swipe and your done…then you can tell apple to stick it.

  • Um, Microsoft was doing this FAR before Apple even dreamed of intering the smartphone market.  Screw them!!!

  • Anonymous

    First company on Earth to make formatted info tap-able?  Please.  They just managed to get a patent issued on it.  There’s probably over a hundred other similar patents out there.  These software patents are killing innovation and are harming consumers.  The patent office has the authority to address these issues, unfortunately they don’t have the balls.

  • this is so stupid, im pretty sure my phone from 2000 was able to save phone numbers and call people if they included it in a text message. WAAAAAY before Apple even considered a phone. total BS.

  • Rich

    Finally HTC can get the F out of here… This is saving a lot of head aches down the road… With those damn skins, and not getting updated and for the big security holes they have… Bout time…

  • Boy this is a really sad way to get ahead in an industry.  This is why I will probably never own an Apple Product.

  • cardi

    This is so lame nobody probally knew anybody had a patent i remember my windows phone doing and every android phone i owned of played with does it i could respect it more iv they wad suing everybody cause all touchscreen phones do it.

  • Anonymous


  • Sbalsen

    Where to begin! The ITC ruling is, of course, beyond insane. It is contrary to the ITC purpose and destructive of true free market competition. The Apple patent would be similar to patenting a round knob to adjust volume on a TV or radio, or perhaps a remote control device to switch TV channels or control volume. Technology cannot advance without mimicking, adaptations and modifications of what came before. The ITC is the bad guy here, not Apple, though they are not totally guilt free either. I’m sure they have “borrowed” their share of other company’s technology.

    I’m ashamed to be a Apple Macintosh computer user.

  • Eddie

    There is prior art from the 1980s… The patent system is broken, there is NO WAY apple should have been granted such an obvious patent that also has prior art.

  • Doan

    I’m really starting to hate Apple.  They have great products, but Apple are dicks.

  • GCurry

    I guess Apply invented hypertext, hyperlinks, eh?

  • A couple of things:
    1. This only applies to devices Android OS 2.2 and Below.
    2. I already talked to HTC about it, according to what the guy said, their designers have alternate solutions for the patents and they will have them fixed before April 2012. 
    3. Even if the phones DO get banned and you own one of these phones, you would still be able to use your warranty and get a replacement

  • Anonymous


    Did someone forget to mention that ^^ and that, as a result, HTC will hardly be affected? Do they sell/ship any phones running Android 2.2 or older? NO.

  • Insert obligatory “I’d tap that” comment here.

  • Anonymous

    Why does only HTC violate this? Isn’t this a feature included within the stock Gmail app?

  • Apple is guilty of the number #1 rule of and sprinter…never look over at the guy next to you in a race.  Keep your eyes on the finish line.  Google’s looking forward.  The winner is obvious here.

  • Iankellogg

    There are so many prior art examples of their patent that is just pathetic. You could take just about any business software from the late 80s or 90s and it would have the exact feature described in the patent.

  • Phone with more GBs.

    Meh. Apple is still going to die in a fire. Let them piss on the flames if they think that it will help.

  • Granny Smith suing Apple over use of logo … 

  • Anonymous

    Its interesting to read this since ios5 has the “drop down notification bar” that got that from hmm…? I guess there next ios update will have long press actions and widgets on the homescreen.

  • I’m in the process of patenting breathing…

  • Freddy

    pathetic ignorant aSheep

  • Freddy

    Apple is the greatest company ever

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  • Eddie Sprouse

    Why do companies continue to do this. I don’t care which company starts these types of fights what matters to me as a consumer is one company wants to take away something that benefits me and as far as I can see isn’t going to cause Apple any pain if it was just left alone. I could see if they were coping iPone function for function. But a tap-able link? All Apple is saying to me is they don’t care about how this effects me. 

    • Stereopc

      I agree, they just don’t care. I want to know the real reason they are doing this. They can’t think I (consumers) will switch to an iphone if they are the only phone I can get with clickable phone numbers. And what about new releases of Android, does it affect it at all? From what I have been reading a phone like my Galaxy Nexus isn’t effected at all. So, again, what will apple gain?