Should we consider the International Trade Commission’s recent narrow ruling in favor of Apple - one small step for the consumer electronics behemoth and one giant leap for the smartphone patent wars?
Although the decision is being hailed as the first definitive case in the war, it’s just a baby step in the long string of legal actions to come.
The ITC ruled on Monday that Android-running HTC devices that use “data tapping” technology in a certain way violates one of Apple’s patents. A ban starting on April 19, 2012, was also placed on the technology.
The ruling was seen as a partial victory for Apple now that HTC must remove the patent-infringing technology by April or the phones will be banned from the country.
In typical corporate spin, HTC - the third ranking smartphone provider in the United States - focused on the positive and stated that they were "gratified" that the ITC upheld a previous decision finding no infringement on Apple patents and reversed a ruling on another patent. It also added that it will stop producing phones with the infringing technology.
Despite its rosy outlook, however, the Taiwanese handset maker is expected to appeal the ruling to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, and the smartphone wars are far from over.
"Apple will have to be much more successful in enforcing its patents in the future," Florian Mueller said in the San Jose Mercury News. "They're still far, far away from Steve Jobs' vow to kill Android."
Given the flood of patent infringement lawsuits flowing from smartphone makers, it's a safe bet the Federal Circuit will be stemming the tide for quite a while.
- International Trade Commission's Notice of Final Determination (International Trade Commission)
- Apple against the Galaxy: Appealing Lost Injunction Bid (FindLaw's Federal Circuit blog)
- Apple Sues Samsung for Copying the iPhone and iPad (FindLaw's Courtside)