The United States International Trade Commission recently issued a ruling in a patent case filed by Apple against HTC. The ruling was in favor of Apple and as a result, HTC devices using the patents involved will be banned from the US market. According to the ITC, HTC devices infringe patent #5,946,647 which involves a function that is essential to the Android operating system itself. The patent, in essence, covers a device that scans computer text for data and turns that number into a link that the user can then select to perform an act.
The ban itself will go into effect on April 19, 2012 but HTC will be allowed to import refurbished products for warranty replacement purposes until December 19, 2013. The devices clearly included in the ban are HTC Android devices including the Sprint Evo 4G, Verizon Droid Incredible, AT&T Aria, and T-Mobile G2 but Apple is expected to use the ITC ruling to go after all HTC phones running Android, even those running Ice Cream Sandwich.
The win by Apple is significant since it affects a core functionality of Android. With the ITC ruling against HTC, there is no stopping Apple from going after all manufacturers of Android devices. What Google can do is replace the affected functions with something else without having to remove the function altogether.
HTC already issued an official statement saying that the ruling only covers a “small UI experience” and that it will be removed from all HTC phones soon.