Unfortunately for HTC, and subsequently Google, the US International Trade Commission ruled that HTC’s Android smartphones infringe on key Apple patents (here’s how for a detailed review). The ruling, affects key portions of the HTC user interface, or UI, one of which is the feature that allows you to click a phone number in an email, webpage, or other spot, and have the phone dial. So, unless HTC redesigns its UI, any devices that infringe on Apple’s patent will not be imported into the United States after April.
Although in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a huge part of the device’s user experience, this ruling is a blow to HTC, and hence, Android. So, obviously, unless HTC and Google want to remove that portion of the device experience from their Android OS and devices, which it probably will, Apple appears set to receive significant royalties from these devices, similar to Microsoft.
My biggest problem with these patent lawsuits is the vagueness of the patents. Now, I’m not an intellectual property lawyer, but the patents seem awfully vague. In fact, since I don’t know any better, the patent sounds like Apple owns the rights to a hyperlink.
However, as the saying goes, “what goes around comes around,” and Apple had better watch out – especially since Google owns the lockscreen patent, which allows the mobile device to play music, silence the device, display tasks and information, and place calls from the lockscreen.