This is big. And it’s a row that has been on-going for quite some time too. Just as Android devices started making sales headway against other major brands, they might be in for a little setback. It’s not hardware, but software, luckily.
The United States International Trade Commission has ruled that HTC has been infringing on an Apple patent that affects HTC Android devices running Android 1.6 to 2.2.
It’s probably fair to say that this will affect Android operating systems going forward too.
Fortune kindly explains what the issue is, and though it’s more of a convenience factor, it’s something that certainly makes our lives easier, and something that many of us will be used to too because it is a feature built into many smartphones:
When an iPhone receives a message that contains a phone number or an address – e-mail, web or street – those bits of data are automatically highlighted, underlined and turned into clickable links.
Click on the phone number, and the iPhone asks if you want to dial it. Click on the web address, and it opens in Safari. Click on the street address, and Maps will display it.
That’s big, not just because of the patent infringement but because the ITC has also banned the importing of specific HTC Android devices from April 19, 2012 if the problem isn’t resolved.
The patent in question is number 5 946 647, and affectionately referred to as “647”, which Apple was awarded in February 1996, and covers the “system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data.”
How has HTC decided to respond? Well, quite simply, it’s going to remove this feature that makes life easier from its operating system:
We are very pleased with the determination and we respect it. However, the 647 patent is a small UI experience and HTC will completely remove it from all of our phones soon.
What’s important here? It’s that Apple, having won this victory over Android, may look to expand this to other smartphone manufacturers too, just like its doing in its war against Samsung.
Steve Jobs said competition was “healthy”, but that competitors shouldn’t “steal.”
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