International Trade Commission: Apple Not Violating HTC Patent

Posted by · October 17, 2011 3:54 pm

In a preliminary decision Monday, an ITC administrative law judge determined that “no violation” existed on the part of Apple regarding four different HTC patents. While this preliminary decision must still pass the full commission—set for next February—this decision does not bode well for HTC, who originally filed their complaint with the ITC in May 2010. However, Judge Charles Bullock did recognize the legal legitimacy of the HTC patents themselves.

The patents in question cover specific aspects of Apple iPhone, iPod, and iPad products, including their power management and phone dialing systems. Unsurprisingly, this is part of a larger market share battle taking place between Apple and the several Android product manufacturers. In fact, Apple is also currently engaged in a similar battle with Samsung.

Also worth noting is the specific interest in the particular venue of the ITC. According to Reuters, the International Trade Commission is especially popular “because it can bar the importation of infringing products” to the United States. In other words, a favorable decision by the ITC can quickly reduce competition in the world’s largest consumer market.

While this news certainly lets Apple fans breathe a sigh of relief, the mere fact that the ITC could have prevented the importation of all iOS devices to the United States might also cause some readers to wonder how beneficial such patent battles—or patents in general—truly are when it comes to the larger “free market” economy. If the economy is supposed to thrive on free and open competition, one would think that these economic titans would be the first to resist such anticompetitive governmental intervention.

Maybe not.