Feeds

US trade body decides Apple has case to answer

But would it really ban the iPhone?

The Power of One Infographic

The US International Trade Commission has decided to investigate HTC's allegations that Apple is infringing its patents. Its answer could see the iPhone banned from American stores.

The ITC's investigation is in response to HTC's complaint, filed on May 12th, that Apple is in breach of various patents owned by HTC. The complaint calls for a ban on the import of infringing products - an interesting prospect, but one that's pretty unlikely to actually happen.

At least the ITC will have Apple's details handy: it's already investigating possible infringements of touch-screen patents owned by Elan Microelectronics, which could equally well lead to an import ban.

Complaints to the ITC are very much in vogue at the moment, given the speed the decision can be made with and the immediate financial pain inflicted on the losing party. Patent battles can and do rage for decades, mostly to the benefit of the legal minds involved. Such spats can also lead to some sort of phased royalty payment which itself is generally subject to lengthy (and expensive) negotiations.

ITC investigations, in contrast, follow a strict timetable, and if the Commission upholds the compaint then infringing products cannot be legally imported into the US. That puts huge pressure on the company to resolve the dispute. When Qualcomm faced such a ban the company used every weapon at its disposal - the company even planned a personal appeal to then-president George Bush, but in the end had to grovel to Broadcom for a licence.

A ban on Apple products would certainly hurt the company, and quite possibly the US economy, but such a thing is still a very long way off. The ITC has announced it will be investigating, and now has 45 days to announce a schedule for that investigation.

Even if Apple is found to be infringing HTC's patents it will still get 60 days to appeal to the US Trade Representative. Such an appeal depends on the public good, and lack of harm to the infringed party. Qualcomm's public profile and political clout wasn't enough to help, but Apple has more of both and that certainly wouldn't do any harm. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee
But there's a flaw in Google's IP-based IoT system
Orange spent weekend spamming customers with TXTs
Zero, not infinity, is the Magic Number customers want
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
NBN Co execs: No FTTN product until 2015
Faster? Not yet. Cheaper? No data
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.