It’s a full-time freakin’ job keeping track of Apple’s various legal feuds. There are all sorts of licensing and cross-licensing agreements in play, and countless claims of patent-this and patent-that.
One recent ruling – in Apple’s favour, at the possible expense of HTC – could in fact have wider-reaching implications for Android.
A US International Trade Commission (ITC) judge has determined that HTC infringes two of ten patents initially asserted by Apple. The ITC wields insane-o power, and in extreme cases can ban imports that infringe on intellectual property rights.
The two patents are No. 5,946,647 and No. 6,343,263. In case you don’t have ‘em all memorised just yet, they’re for a “system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data” and a “real-time signal processing system for serially transmitted data.” Mmm, I love it when you talk dirty, patent world.
Worryingly for Google, the patents are vague enough that they could extend to all Android-based devices.
Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents suggests Apple mightn’t be interested in a licensing deal, since HTC has nothing to offer in return. Apple holds all the cards, and in the absolute worst case HTC’s Android-running arsenal could be banned from the United States.
It’s been a while since we practised law, but we suspect it’s more likely that HTC would pay damages to Apple. Maybe. HTC is already thought to pay Microsoft $5 for every Android phone sold.
The target date for the final decision is December 6 at the latest.