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HTC had shipped blocked phones with Apple patent work around; release coming?

Posted: , by Alan F.

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HTC had shipped blocked phones with Apple patent work around; release coming?
Apple owns U.S. Patent #5,946,647 (remember this number as there will be a quiz later) which covers the situations using Android where you click on a link and see a menu of choices from which you can complete the action. For example, you press on a video link and see a menu that gives you the option of viewing the video on your browser or on YouTube. Apple has the patent and thus, the HTC One X and the HTC EVO 4G LTE are blocked from entering the States by the U.S. Customs Department. This, of course, threatens the May 18th launch for the HTC EVO 4G LTE at Sprint. The HTC One X launched earlier this month via AT&T and already the carrier's website shows the flagship model as being "out of stock".

HTC EVO 4G LTE

HTC EVO 4G LTE

The joke could be on Apple. HTC had been criticized for knowing in advance about this patent and not doing anything to avoid it. But the truth is, HTC might have played Apple like a fine violin. The U.S. variants of the two models in question did not ship to the States with the same menu that violates Apple's patent. Nope. The Taiwan based manufacturer played a real life version of chess and was thinking two steps ahead when it loaded a work around into the U.S. bound HTC EVO 4G LTE and HTC One X models. Now when a U.S. user of either model clicks on a link, the appropriate app is launched which gives users less flexibility, but also keeps Apple's attorneys away. And if the user wants to use a different app, he can click on "Settings" and then "App Associations" to make a selection.

So this should clear everything up and lead to the instant release of all of those poor smartphones cooling their heels at Customs, right? Well, Apple could claim that the work around still infringes on its patent. If HTC's work around is sufficient, well, we see no reason why the phones couldn't hit the States by Friday.

source: TheVerge via Phandroid

Apple's patent on this feature led HTC to use this work around on U.S. models(R)
Apple's patent on this feature led HTC to use this work around on U.S. models(R)

Apple's patent on this feature led HTC to use this work around on U.S. models(R)


68 Comments
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posted on 17 May 2012, 01:11 5

1. I_Slap_Fat_Kids (Posts: 40; Member since: 04 May 2012)


I don't see how the joke is on Apple...

I see it hurting HTC and Sprint more than Apple for sure.

posted on 17 May 2012, 01:36 12

5. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5993; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Well, the joke would be on Apple if the work-around is found to not infringe Apple's patent claims language. There is a very specific functional ban that has been approved. If the HTC handsets do not operate in violation of the ban, they get to move out of Customs. And Apple gets to suck on a rotten egg.

posted on 17 May 2012, 02:00 2

10. I_Slap_Fat_Kids (Posts: 40; Member since: 04 May 2012)


But that in no way is bad for them. Apple probably knew that they had not included that software, and, from the looks of it, they are going to push back the release by at least a few days.

The only ones in jeopardy here are HTC, Sprint, and AT&T to an extent.

posted on 17 May 2012, 02:50 8

12. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5993; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


It is bad for Apple if the HTC handsets quickly leave Customs and go to market. Apple is trying to slow-march the smartphone market until probably late Summer, 2012 when the iPhone 5 is supposed to be announced and Fall, 2012 when the iPhone 5 ships. Sales of competing handsets in the interim are sales that could have gone to an iPhone 5 had they not gone to HTC, Sammy, and, and, and.

Right now, the game for Apple is delay, delay, delay.

posted on 17 May 2012, 06:50 4

32. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


very true.

Also, if the phones are not actually breaking the patents, it give Apple a bit of negative press.. again.. for being an aggressive bully.

posted on 17 May 2012, 11:24

50. downphoenix (Posts: 3165; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


No it doesn't. It does amongst us Android elites, but the masses will still love and praise Apple and will never hear of this story, or will go in fanboy defense mode if they do hear of it.

posted on 17 May 2012, 16:56

60. gallitoking (Posts: 4720; Member since: 17 May 2011)


dount outside of fandroids anyone thinks Apple is a bullied.. when HTC was the one criticed for not doing anyhting about it

posted on 17 May 2012, 06:57

36. I_Slap_Fat_Kids (Posts: 40; Member since: 04 May 2012)


Do you really think this could have delayed the shipment for four months?

Even if it did have copyright infringing software on it, another shipment would arrive here and get through customs a month later and a half, tops.

posted on 17 May 2012, 11:22 2

49. downphoenix (Posts: 3165; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


The thing is, the patent is retarded in the first place. And Im sure that "clicking a link and getting to choose from different options" has been around since any kind of user interface has been around. And how is it even a patentable function?

posted on 17 May 2012, 01:38 11

6. Commentator (Posts: 3709; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)


It's a grim time when government commissions operate at the whims of billion-dollar corporations like Apple. HTC did nothing wrong, but they'll be paying millions of dollars per day that the One X and Evo isn't available.

My original stance was that Apple was little-to-blame for the current situation. After it came to light that Apple requested the halt, most of the blame is on them. They could have requested the ITC investigation any time over the last month, but they waited until the last possible moment. This smells of anti-competitive behavior, and an abuse of government authority. (Although why HTC didn't confirm with the ITC that their product was compliant months ago is beyond me. They really dropped the ball on that one, and Sprint suffers because of it.)

posted on 17 May 2012, 11:04

48. BREvenson (Posts: 240; Member since: 17 May 2012)


My guess is that HTC didn't expect the ITC to be on them mere days before the release, and they also didn't expect to have to physically prove their product didn't infringe on the patent. If that's the case, then HTC could have done a little more to keep it from geting to this point.

Looking at the big picture, though, the blame does fall on Apple. They chose to go after them at the last possible moment, and they are going after HTC the only way they can...by using the law. If the phones indeed do not violate the patent(s), Apple will take a strong blow to its credibility (well, whatever credibility they have) and it will prove that they are nothing but technology bullies who will suppress the competition by any means necessary.

posted on 17 May 2012, 05:39 1

26. Mxyzptlk (Posts: 14194; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


HTC knew what they were doing. They never learn from their mistakes of copying other designs and their poor decisions. Like when they lock the bootloader of their newer phones. Typical HTC behavior. Least they're better than Motorola.

posted on 17 May 2012, 09:43

42. Commentator (Posts: 3709; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)


The locked bootloader is unique to the AT&T One X. The Evo doesn't have this problem. I'm not sure about the T-Mobile One S. The sad thing is HTC will probably lock it down on the Droid Incredible 4g LTE, because Verizon will probably ask them to.

posted on 17 May 2012, 10:34 2

45. HTCfan14 (Posts: 2; Member since: 17 May 2012)


I can't believe that Apple is whining like a baby. That choosing thing??? That has been used by HTC may smartphones ago, Desire HD even has that, it makes me choose to either open the video with MX player, Stream player, Browser, or YouTube, what's new with that??? Apple's just threatened by HTC's advancements, phone designs, amazing Sense UI, and their phone's superb specs that beats their iPhone which has a crappy box design, and of course, has the AppDrawer for its homescreen.

posted on 17 May 2012, 17:25

61. gallitoking (Posts: 4720; Member since: 17 May 2011)


thanks I will forward this to Apple to eliminate thos crappy phones

posted on 17 May 2012, 01:20 13

2. GeekMovement (Posts: 2156; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)


Apple's goal = stop competition.

posted on 17 May 2012, 03:14 10

19. wendygarett (unregistered)


Apple's goal = turn all the US citizen into sheep :D

posted on 17 May 2012, 05:39 2

27. Mxyzptlk (Posts: 14194; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


And Android's goal is to turn everyone into Drones?

posted on 17 May 2012, 05:41 1

28. Mxyzptlk (Posts: 14194; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


Stop competition from stealing their ideas. They are not trying to stop competition. Actually, the competition isn't really much of a competition when the offerings don't compare to what Apple offers.

posted on 17 May 2012, 06:04 8

30. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Yeah because the same "revolutionary design of iOS" has gotten major face lifts since 2007. How's that five year design treating you?

posted on 17 May 2012, 06:58 4

37. bigdawg23 (Posts: 455; Member since: 25 May 2011)


Also remember that Apple invented the slide to unlock they just flied for. Nevermind the G1 had this from the beginning.

As for iOS its time for a serious change and to start unlocking features like Call Blocking without Jailbreaking.

posted on 17 May 2012, 10:06

44. InspectorGadget80 (unregistered)


And we the consumer have to suffer for it.

posted on 17 May 2012, 17:26

62. gallitoking (Posts: 4720; Member since: 17 May 2011)


no need to as SGSIII is a bust.. android is stoping themselves as they show no innovation anymore..

posted on 17 May 2012, 01:27 3

3. x7black7x (Posts: 118; Member since: 19 Feb 2012)


and will they be able to acomplish that goal
i really dont think so

posted on 17 May 2012, 01:35 4

4. le_pman (Posts: 3; Member since: 14 May 2012)


on the bright side, competitors will innovate more in order to circumvent Apple trolls, er patents.

bad side, more stuff for Apple to steal from the competition while leaving itself unharmed.

posted on 17 May 2012, 01:54 4

9. I_Slap_Fat_Kids (Posts: 40; Member since: 04 May 2012)


I think all of this suing and anti-competitive business strategies is going to begin to (if it hasn't already) mark them with an undesirable stigma that may harm them in the long-run. I'm glad that other companies have not taken up the same tactics.

It's embarrassing to have America's competitor in this market reinforcing our intrusive, sue-happy image viewed by most of the world.

posted on 17 May 2012, 01:50 5

7. Commentator (Posts: 3709; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)


Alan, this is great news, but how exactly did HTC "play Apple like a fine violin?" From what it looks like, Apple cut the supply line to its second-largest competitor, costing them millions of dollars. I also wouldn't say HTC is "two steps ahead" of Apple. HTC obviously wouldn't risk millions of dollars in one of the largest markets in the world by NOT implementing the workaround, and I don't think anybody (except maybe the mindless drones at the ITC) actually thought they didn't: the consumers knew it, HTC obviously knew it, and I'm sure even Apple knew it. Apple most likely convinced the ITC to investigate HTC not because of a suspected patent violation, but simply to delay the Evo's release, and their tactic seemingly worked perfectly, and Sprint will be hard-pressed to get it to launch in time. If anything, HTC's been on the defensive the entire time.

posted on 17 May 2012, 03:11

18. Altair (Posts: 367; Member since: 02 Feb 2012)


Human nature tends to favor freedom. Everyone knows that. Apple is preventing freedom over here.

I have always been against those asian clone android devices. They are playing dirty game along with the Googles "stolen product". However Apple is going too far with this.

At the end of the day, this Apple game is turning against it.

posted on 17 May 2012, 01:51 3

8. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5711; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)


this manner of selecting an application to launch with certain selections has been around forever on a multitude of different Android Devices. why now? why HTC? the answer is obvious. Apple wants to slow down the competition.

posted on 17 May 2012, 02:58 2

15. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)


The answer is obvious. Google and HTC should stop copying and invest in R&D.

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