Judge finds HTC guilty of infringing two Apple patents; could mean trouble for Android [updated]

A judge with the U.S. International Trade Commission on Friday ruled that HTC’s Android phones infringe on two of ten Apple patents covered in a complaint filed by the Cupertino-based company last year. “We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement at that time. “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.” The ITC’s decision is an initial determination however, and it will now need to be reviewed by a six-member Commission. Apple’s complaint in this case covered a total of ten patents, and the two HTC has been determined to be infringing are numbered 5,946,647 and 6,343,263. These patents cover a “system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data,” and a “real-time signal processing system for serially transmitted data,” respectively. Both patents are said to be hugely important to the core Android OS, and if upheld, the ruling could be incredibly damaging to the rest of Google’s Android partners. Apple is also in the process of suing Motorola and other Android partners for infringing on these and other patents. HTC has already stated that it plans to appeal the ITC’s determination, telling reporters it will “vigorously fight” the ruling. A final determination in the case is due on December 6th, 2011.

UPDATE: HTC has issued a response to the ITC’s judgement, which can now be read below in its entirety.

ITC JUDGES RELEASES INITIAL DETERMINATION IN APPLE VS. HTC CASE

Taoyuan, Taiwan–July 16, 2011 – HTC received notice of the ITC judge’s initial determination in the Apple vs. HTC case, ITC No. 337-TA-710. Apple originally asserted 10 of its patents against HTC in March 2010, and the judge ruled today that HTC infringed on 2 patents. HTC does not yet have access to the judge’s full opinion and analysis to determine the details of his findings.

“We are highly confident we have a strong case for the ITC appeals process and are fully prepared to defend ourselves using all means possible,” said Grace Lei, General Counsel of HTC. “We strongly believe we have alternate solutions in place for the issues raised by Apple. We look forward to resolving this case, so we can continue creating the most innovative mobile experiences for consumers.”

The ITC’s Staff Attorney independently studied the facts and argued at trial that HTC does not violate any of the 10 Apple patents.

The ITC has already ruled that Apple is infringing the patents of HTC’s subsidiary S3 Graphics as part of ITC Investigation No. 337-TA-724.  HTC announced its acquisition of S3Graphics on July 6, 2011.

HTC is a leading innovator of smartphones that has developed a strong customer brand, unique user experience and differentiated smartphone portfolio.

Founded in 1997 with a passion for innovation and a vision for how smartphones would change people’s lives, HTC has continually driven this vision by consistently introducing award-winning smartphones worldwide. In February 2011, HTC was honored as the handset maker of the year by the GSMA, the mobile industries global trade association. For more information on HTC’s history of innovation, please visit: http://www.htc.com/history.

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