The US Internation Trade Commission issued a ruling (PDF) late yesterday blocking the importation of several of HTC’s Android-based smartphones in the US. The ITC found merit to Apple’s claim that HTC had infringed on two of Apple’s patents. The ITC further determined that “the appropriate remedy is a limited exclusion order prohibiting the entry” of the offending phones into the US market.
The patent in question deals, in a nutshell, with the way a phone scans displayed content for certain kinds of data and offers the user the ability to take certain actions related to that data. In other words, when your Sprint Evo 4G or your Verizon Droid Incredible detects a phone number or an email address on a web page and creates a hyperlink allowing you to call that number or send an email to that address, it infringes Apple’s patent.
The ITC’s “limited exclusion” is only a ban on importing the offending devices, rather than a total ban on their sale. Those that are already in the US can continue to be sold. Moreover, the ban does not go into effect until April 19, 2012, with an exception allowing the import of refurbished phones for warranty services until December 2013.
Requests for comment to Apple and Google have not yet been answered, and HTC could not be reached. However the company spoke to Financial Times early this morning and claimed that the ruling was actually a victory for them. While the ITC found infringement against one of Apple’s patents, Apple had originally sued over ten patents. Moreover, the infringing element is a a small feature of the user interface, which HTC said they plan to remove soon.[Hat Tip: The Verge]