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ITC denies Apple's emergency request for customs ban of HTC phones

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
The U.S International Trade Commission refused Apple's request for an emergency customs ban on HTC Android devices, but the agency is looking into whether redesigned phones from the Taiwanese handset maker still constitute infringement of Apple's "data detectors" patent.

After Apple won an import ban of HTC's Android phones late last year, HTC quickly responded that it had devised a workaround to avoid the issue.

Apple, however, maintains that HTC devices continue to infringe on its patents and has asked the ITC to step in and assert the injunction. However, the ITC has shot down the iPhone maker's request for an emergency ban, Bloomberg reported on Monday.

?The commission finds that Apple has not demonstrated the propriety of temporary emergency action here,? the agency reportedly said. ?The commission will not direct Customs to detain all subject HTC products because the commission does not have the information necessary to determine whether the respondents are currently violating the commission?s limited exclusion order.?

HTC One X
HTC's One X smartphone


In May, HTC revealed that some of its smartphones were being held up at U.S. Customs while they checked for compliance with the ITC exclusion order. Days later, the company reported that some models were being cleared through customs.

In a letter to the ITC last month, Apple suggested that HTC had made "misstatements" to the ITC and possibly Customs that needed to be corrected through an emergency ban. "HTC's factually erroneous excuse for continued importation of products covered by the LEO [limited exclusion order] bolsters the necessity for emergency relief," the company argued.

The patent in question is for a system that automatically detects actionable information and converts it into a link. The invention actually predates modern mobile operating systems, as Apple actually first began using the technology in Mac OS 8 in the 1990s. In more recent times, Apple has implemented data detection into iOS.



HTC and Apple are set to discuss settlement options later this summer. The court-ordered talks will take place on August 28.

If the ITC decides to enforce the injunction against HTC's current product lineup, it could cripple the vendor's attempts at a U.S. comeback. HTC used to make more than half its revenue from the U.S., but that figure has dwindled in recent years. CEO Peter Chou admitted in April that "competition from the iPhone 4S" was a major reason for a drop in sales of HTC handsets in the U.S. last year.

HTC saw profits fall 70 percent year over year in the March quarter. According to data from comScore, HTC saw its share of U.S. mobile subscribers drop from 6.3 percent in February to 6.1 percent in May. By comparison, Apple's share increased from 13.5 percent to 15.0 percent over the same period.
post #2 of 23
That's an interesting patent infringement. I took detection of actionable information for granted for some 15 years I suppose.
post #3 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by gatortpk View Post

That's an interesting patent infringement. I took detection of actionable information for granted for some 15 years I suppose.

18 years. The patent, 6,343,263 expires in August, 2014. Really goes to show how ahead of its time Apple was, even before its meteoric rise to glory in the past 8 or so years.

post #4 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by gatortpk View Post

That's an interesting patent infringement. I took detection of actionable information for granted for some 15 years I suppose.

 

That's because it's nonsense, like many software patents.

 

This was already up for discussion in another thread, covered under the context of a "Hyperlink", actionable data recognized for it's structure that provides a means to other data. Case in point, XML markup tags, a phone number, a GPS coordinate, etc. 

 

The wording in this patent is obscenely vague and could be applied liberally to cover almost any operation any modern OS uses. 

post #5 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shidell View Post

 

That's because it's nonsense, like many software patents.

There is no patent to be granted for lines of code covered by copyright laws, or UI design/visual concepts covered by trademark. Most of the world see it that way, not the US patent office enjoying its cut for granting them.

post #6 of 23

This is pretty much expected. Apple was trying to get a "quick" ruling and the ITC decided they needed time to go over the details before taking any action (or not taking action). In other words, they're playing it safe and don't want to do something that will harm HTC until they're absolutely sure an infringement is still present.

post #7 of 23

Utterly off topic, but I actually think that the HTC One X handset depicted above is better looking than the SIII.

 

It has a nice sculpted, clean look to it.

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post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post

Utterly off topic, but I actually think that the HTC One X handset depicted above is better looking than the SIII.

It has a nice sculpted, clean look to it.

Compared to the iPhone, both the HTC One X and the Galaxy S III sure look similar. I suppose the HTC has a little more screen on the face instead making more space for other things like sensors and a camera like on the S III. I suppose in person, the polycarbonate of the HTC, can make a difference in the feel.

Of course, I still prefer the iPhone. I originally liked the rounded edges in the earlier iPhones, but the flat edge of the newer iPhones is nice for grip position and/or case fitting. I prefer the newer iPhone shape a bit more now. No one else seems to have followed suit.
post #9 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by gatortpk View Post

Of course, I still prefer the iPhone.

 

Ditto for me.

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post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sensi View Post

There is no patent to be granted for lines of code covered by copyright laws, or UI design/visual concepts covered by trademark. Most of the world see it that way, not the US patent office enjoying its cut for granting them.

That's because the US patent office doesn't grant a patent for lines of code or for concepts, either.

Neither code (which is covered by copyrights) nor concepts (which are not protectable IP) are covered by US patents. Instead, patents provide "a property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted." (from USPTO).

More specifically, we're talking about utility patents which cover "any new, useful, and nonobvious process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof."

So, software patents are for a process, not lines of code or concepts.

Now, one can argue that software patents have been granted too liberally or that the patent examiners don't know enough about software to define what constitutes a new, useful, and non obvious process, but the law very clearly does allow for patenting software if it truly does define a new and non obvious process.
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post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post

Utterly off topic, but I actually think that the HTC One X handset depicted above is better looking than the SIII.

 

It has a nice sculpted, clean look to it.

I have the Sprint version (EVO LTE) and it replaced my EVO 4G. MUCH better, faster and great screen. Great phone in my opinion. Left the iPhone at 3G and haven't looked back.

post #12 of 23

The problem is every mobile OS seems to have been infringing on this method for a very long time now.  Its funny how Apple continues to target the OEM's for Android rather than the Android OS (Google) company.  This is something that is part of the OS and not something HTC put in on their own.  Much like the Galaxy Nexus search features that Judge Koh ruled against.  Again that feature has been in Android since the beginning and its a Google device so sue Google.  


Fortunately Google is now joining Samsung in the fight against Apple which is something they should have been doing from the start.

 

I am neither for or against either OS as I have owned devices for both but the patent that Apple is having granted are at times obvious.  If anything Google should change the sliding mechanism to tap to unlock that would really piss off Apple. 

post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by RaptorOO7 View Post

Its funny how Apple continues to target the OEM's for Android rather than the Android OS (Google) company.

It's funny that you think this is funny.
post #14 of 23
Tim Cook hates litigation but he loves inflicting death by a thousand cuts.
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by markbyrn View Post

Tim Cook hates litigation but he loves inflicting death by a thousand cuts.

If that is his strategy, then why is he using such a dull knife?

 

 

 

Quote:
?The commission finds that Apple has not demonstrated the propriety of temporary emergency action here,? the agency reportedly said. ?The commission will not direct Customs to detain all subject HTC products because the commission does not have the information necessary to determine whether the respondents are currently violating the commission?s limited exclusion order.?

 

Seemingly, the Apple Army (of lawyers) again failed to offer adequate pleadings.

post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Now, one can argue that software patents have been granted too liberally or that the patent examiners don't know enough about software to define what constitutes a new, useful, and non obvious process, but the law very clearly does allow for patenting software if it truly does define a new and non obvious process.

 

Many patents are invalid the day they are granted simply because the patent office doesn't have the resources or expertise to go over them in enough detail to determine their validity. However, once a patent is used successfuly in a court case then it could be considered "valid" since a large portion of the defense would revolve around trying to show the patent is invalid. If a patent stands up in court it then becomes highly valuable.

 

This is why people should stop whining when Apple wins a case like the Nexus injunction simply because the patent has already been "tested".I think this is a large part of the reason why Apple is using different patents in different cases - so they can get them "validated" in a court which increases their value.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RaptorOO7 View Post

 Its funny how Apple continues to target the OEM's for Android rather than the Android OS (Google) company.

 

It's not funny at all and makes total sense. Google doesn't sell any hardware and gives Android away, so it would be a nightmare to determine damages. In addition, OEM's modify Android for their own devices and even if Apple won a case against Google they'd still have to file another case against the OEM to prove to the court their "modified" version still infringes.

 

So if they have to go to the court for each OEM, then why bother wasting time against Google?

post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

Many patents are invalid the day they are granted simply because the patent office doesn't have the resources or expertise to go over them in enough detail to determine their validity. However, once a patent is used successfuly in a court case then it could be considered "valid" since a large portion of the defense would revolve around trying to show the patent is invalid. If a patent stands up in court it then becomes highly valuable.

You have it backwards. Under US law, a utility patent has a presumption of validity the day it is issued. So when you have a patent, it is absolutely valid. it takes a court decision (or a re-examination at the patent office) to overturn that and make it invalid.
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post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by RaptorOO7 View Post

The problem is every mobile OS seems to have been infringing on this method for a very long time now.  Its funny how Apple continues to target the OEM's for Android rather than the Android OS (Google) company.  This is something that is part of the OS and not something HTC put in on their own.  Much like the Galaxy Nexus search features that Judge Koh ruled against.  Again that feature has been in Android since the beginning and its a Google device so sue Google.  


Fortunately Google is now joining Samsung in the fight against Apple which is something they should have been doing from the start.

I am neither for or against either OS as I have owned devices for both but the patent that Apple is having granted are at times obvious.  If anything Google should change the sliding mechanism to tap to unlock that would really piss off Apple. 

Because Google isn't the one implementing it. Yeah it's their software but it would be dormant on their servers if no handset maker installed it on their devices. It's only when it gets used that there's infringement.
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post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


You have it backwards. Under US law, a utility patent has a presumption of validity the day it is issued. So when you have a patent, it is absolutely valid. it takes a court decision (or a re-examination at the patent office) to overturn that and make it invalid.

 

I might have worded it wrong, so I'll clarify. Yes a patent is assumed valid when it's granted. However, most software patents (because of their nature and the inability of the patent office to spend enough time on them to properly examine them) would get challenged in a court of law so they have a chance to get invalidated. Until such time as a court has ruled they are valid, they are not that valuable or useful.

 

As we have seen in the recent batch of lawsuits, a patent has never been strong enough on its own to get an infringer to own up and pay damages - the infringers always hold out until a court case makes a decision. If they were of any value the day they were granted, then infringers wouldn't waste so much effort going to court to try and invalidate them.

 

So technically a patent is assumed valid, but companies sure don't treat them that way.

post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

I might have worded it wrong, so I'll clarify. Yes a patent is assumed valid when it's granted. However, most software patents (because of their nature and the inability of the patent office to spend enough time on them to properly examine them) would get challenged in a court of law so they have a chance to get invalidated. Until such time as a court has ruled they are valid, they are not that valuable or useful.

As we have seen in the recent batch of lawsuits, a patent has never been strong enough on its own to get an infringer to own up and pay damages - the infringers always hold out until a court case makes a decision. If they were of any value the day they were granted, then infringers wouldn't waste so much effort going to court to try and invalidate them.

So technically a patent is assumed valid, but companies sure don't treat them that way.

You're making things up.

One can't simply assume whether people believe a patent or not. Legally, it's clear. A patent is valid starting the date it is issued and remains valid until the date it expires or it is invalidated by the courts or USPTO. Your assertion that no one pays attention to them is just plain wrong. Millions (if not billions) of dollars are being paid annually on software patents.
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post #21 of 23

^ Not sure why you can't see my point.

 

If Samsung, HTC, Motorola and others took software patents seriously then they wouldn't spend so much $$$ challenging Apple in court trying to get them invalidated. They should of just said "OK, you've got the patent - how much do you want to license it" or "OK, we'll remove the offending feature".

 

Companies aren't taking software patents seriously until AFTER they lose a battle in court.

post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

^ Not sure why you can't see my point.

If Samsung, HTC, Motorola and others took software patents seriously then they wouldn't spend so much $$$ challenging Apple in court trying to get them invalidated. They should of just said "OK, you've got the patent - how much do you want to license it" or "OK, we'll remove the offending feature".

Companies aren't taking software patents seriously until AFTER they lose a battle in court.

And, again, that's a hasty generalization based solely on one company (Google) and its licensees. Software patents, in general, are not avoided as much as you suggest. The very fact that hundreds of millions (if not billions) of cell phones are in use that contain licensed FRAND patents establishes that obviously a lot of people DO pay attention to software patents.

Furthermore, it doesn't change the fact that you were wrong when you said that they were invalid the day they were issued and only became valid if challenged in court.
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post #23 of 23

With that said, about half of all patents adjudicated in a court case are found invalid in whole or part. That's an excellent reason not to take a license just because someone says they have a valid patent and it's being infringed. Apple won't roll over and remove features either just because someone comes along with an IP lawsuit.

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