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HTC slips One X, Evo 4G past Apple US patent ban

Fruity tech titan powerless to stop Android shipments

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HTC's latest smartphones have passed inspection by US customs while en route to American pockets, rendering an import ban won by Apple useless.

The fruity firm got a blocking order from the International Trade Commission (ITC) after successfully arguing in December that one of its user-interface patents was partly infringed by HTC's handsets. The patent in question involves identifying and highlighting, say, a phone number in an email and allowing the punter to make a call to that number.

However, that feature isn't essential to HTC handsets, and the Taiwanese company promptly removed the software component from its gear so that it could push its Android-powered phones into America.

Nevertheless, boxes of the HTC One X and the Evo 4G LTE were warehoused until US customs officers were convinced that the infringing feature had been removed. The mobe maker was forced to announce the inspections this month when stocks ran low on the One X and the launch of the Evo was stalled.

The delay was enough to spook investors a bit, sending shares sliding by 7 per cent. HTC's profits have been dropping as it struggles to compete with Apple and other rivals, and it must get new, and therefore potentially more popular, mobiles to market quickly if it hopes to recover.

HTC said today that US customs had completed the review and its kit had been released.

"HTC devices have been released as they are in compliance with the ITC's ruling," the firm said in a canned statement.

"Future shipments should continue to enter the US and we are confident we will soon be able to meet demand for our products." ®

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