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Apple Wins Partial Victory on Smartphone Patent Claim

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on December 21, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A federal agency's ruling in Apple's HTC patent lawsuit is being called a partial victory for Apple in the increasingly competitive smartphone market.

The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled Monday that some user-friendly features available on several HTC smartphones are protected by an Apple patent, The New York Times reports.

Apple's patent covers touchscreen technology that allows a user to place a call by tapping a phone number embedded in an email or text message. The technology also allows users to tap on a date mentioned in an email to add an appointment to their calendar.

The Apple-HTC patent suit means Taiwan-based HTC will no longer be able to sell some of its popular smartphones in the United States, unless Apple's patented features are removed, Time magazine reports.

In a statement, an HTC spokeswoman said the features at issue were "a small (user interface) experience and HTC will completely remove it from all of our phones soon."

In a patent infringement case, patent holders have six years from the date of infringement to file a claim. The patent holder bears the burden of proof to show a defendant infringed the patent.

A defendant can counter an infringement suit in a variety of ways -- for example, by challenging the patent's validity, or by showing the patent did not meet the requirements of novelty and nonobviousness, which are needed for patent protection.

Experts are calling Apple's HTC patent lawsuit a partial win for Apple, as the commission ruled against a separate patent-infringement claim by Apple regarding the internal organization of software in smartphones, The Times reports.

But Apple's HTC patent suit ruling seems to vindicate Apple's late CEO Steve Jobs, who told his biographer he was going to "destroy Android, because it's a stolen product." Apple is also suing Samsung, another maker of Android smartphones, for patent infringement.

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