Apple scored a minor victory in a patent battle with HTC, but that's unlikely to affect either HTC's presence in the United States or Android's overall market presence.
Apple scored a minor victory in its
battle against Google Android, with the International Trade Commission (ITC)
banning certain HTC smartphones from import in April 2012. However, observers
believe HTC will have little trouble altering its devices in order to sidestep
The patent in question, considered a
minor one by analysts, concerns the ability to dial a phone number in an email
or text by tapping on it. "We believe there are workarounds available to HTC,
and HTC has noted that it can quickly remove the feature," Peter Misek, an
analyst with research firm Jefferies & Co., wrote in a coauthored note Dec.
20. "A prior ruling that HTC was infringing one of Apple's broader patents was
In other words, Apple hasn't exactly crippled
HTC's efforts in the United States. "This ruling falls far short of anything
that would force HTC out of the U.S. market in the near term," patent expert
Florian Mueller wrote in a Dec. 19 posting on his FOSS Patents blog. "Out of ten patents originally
asserted, Apple finally managed to enforce one, and it's one of medium value."
Apple is embroiled in several legal battles
over Android. "In the real world, there's a race going on for the first
decision of major disruptive impact, and the ten patents Apple initially
selected for this first ITC complaint were clearly chosen for that purpose," Mueller
continued. "A knock-out blow is a must-have, not merely a nice-to-have, when
you're embroiled in a race for leverage with a view to settlement
It remains to be seen whether Apple
will use this legal victory as leverage against HTC or other Android device
makers. According to Walter Isaacson's bestselling biography, the very
existence of Android drove Apple co-founder Steve Jobs into a white-hot fury,
in which he pledged "thermonuclear war" against what he termed a "stolen
In a meeting with former Google CEO
Eric Schmidt, Jobs supposedly refused to accept any sort of Android-related
payout: "I don't want your money. If you offer me $5 billion, I won't want it.
I've got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that's
all I want."
Although Jobs died in October following
a long battle with cancer, Apple is evidently continuing its crusade to shut
down Android however and wherever it can. The question now is whether other legal
battles can translate into more of a marketplace impact than this latest HTC
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Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.