Apple, Inc. (AAPL) is piling on patent infringement complaints against Android giant HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) in hopes that it can convince the U.S. International Trade Commission to block the import of “personal electronic devices” by HTC into the U.S.
The complaint, “In the Matter of Portable Electronic Devices and Related Software, Complaint NO. 2828, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington)”, is the second in the case and follows the original complaint, “In the Matter of Certain Personal Data and Mobile Communications Devices and Related Software, and the HTC case against Apple is In the Matter of Portable Electronic Devices, 337-721” [PDF], filed 16 months ago, in 2010. It is unclear why Apple filed a second complaint — the ITC website does not list the contents of the complaint, merely the filing date, July 8.
On August 5 a federal judge will rule on whether to suggest that the ITC ban HTC’s electronics imports, pending the outcome of Apple’s two lawsuits against HTC . That suggestion would be reviewed by the full presiding panel of judges before any final decision was made.
A blockage on U.S. shipments would be akin to financial disaster, if not outright death for the Taiwanese phonemaker. The U.S. is HTC’s most lucrative market, and without a steady supply of product it would see its revenue plunge.
If Apple is granted an injunction, HTC would likely be forced to try and settle. However, given that Apple has fallen behind Android in sales, it is unclear whether Apple would accept a settlement, or would merely refuse to settle in order to kill the successful competitor.
HTC does have hope — its recent acquisition, mobile chipmaker S3 Graphics Comp., beat Apple’s ITC request in a similar case. HTC scooped up S3 Graphics for a cool $300M USD in the hopes of strengthening its lineup of high-end smartphones.
On Sept. 16, an ITC judge will decide on whether to allow HTC’s similar request to ban iPhone/iPad/iPod imports into the U.S., pending HTC’s countersuit against Apple.
Apple has sued HTC, Motorola Solutions Inc. (MSI), and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (SEO:005930) — the three largest Android companies. The lawsuits come at a time when Apple has fallen 2-to-1 behind Android in smartphone sales globally.
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