HTC said it is “highly confident” it has a strong case for the appeals process of the US International Trade Commission, after an ITC judge ruled that the company had infringed two patents held by Apple.
In a statement, Grace Lei, General Counsel of HTC, said that the company is “fully prepared to defend ourselves using all means possible.” The ruling made on Friday is now subject to a review by the ITC's Commission, which is its most senior decision-making level. Its support could lead to a block on the import of HTC smartphones into the US, closing-off one of the vendor’s most lucrative markets. HTC said it has “alternate solutions in place” to work-around the Apple patents, but these have not been detailed. The iPhone maker asserted 10 patents against HTC in an action initiated in March 2010, and the ITC judge ruled that HTC had infringed two of them.
The decision is somewhat unexpected, as the staff of the ITC had previously indicated that HTC had not infringed any Apple patents – although this opinion was non-binding. The Taiwanese handset maker also reiterated that Apple has been found guilty by the ITC of infringing patents held by S3 Graphics, a company HTC is set to acquire. It has been suggested that the acquisition of S3 is fuelled by HTC’s desire to improve its intellectual property position, especially with regard to the Apple action. FOSS Patents notes that Apple has asserted the same patents involved in the HTC case against Motorola, and that they may be infringed by all Android devices – making the current cases significant for the smartphone industry as a whole. Apple also recently launched a second action against HTC with the ITC.