Apple scored a victory against its smartphone rival Google last week when a judge ruled that HTC smartphones infringe on two Apple patents.
HTC said that it will appeal the ruling, Bloomberg reported. But the company is already feeling the effects of the decision on the stock market in Taiwan, falling to its lowest level in six months. The decision is subject to review by the International Trade Commission.
Last Tuesday, Apple filed a second complaint against HTC naming five other patents not included in this case.
And it isn’t likely to end with HTC. Now that a judge has found that HTC violated two of the 10 patents Apple accused the company of infringing upon, many are expecting that other companies with Android phones, such as Samsung and Motorola, will run afoul of the same patents. According to All Things D, the court found that a patent describing a “system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer,” and another for a “real-time signal processing system for serially transmitted data” were infringed upon.
Florian Muller, an intellectual property expert who runs the blog FOSS Patents, said that the patents in question “appear to be at the core of Android and infringed by all Android devices.” Muller said the two patents in the HTC ruling are also named Apple’s case with Motorola.
For it’s part, Google doesn’t see the ruling as a threat.
"We're pleased that the ITC ruled against all of Apple's operating system patent claims. We are confident the Commission will ultimately agree with the ITC staff's finding that HTC does not violate any of Apple's patents. Litigation that attacks open-source products limits consumer choice, hurts the economy, and discourages innovation," the company said in a statement.
So what does this mean for consumers? Well, in a worst-case scenario for HTC, the ITC could decide to ban imports of the company’s Android-based devices into the U.S. In fact, Apple has specifically sought to block imports of HTC’s Flyer tablet, as well as the Droid Incredible, Wildfire, EVO 4G and Desire smartphones.
Before we all join in the predictions of HTC and Android’s demise, however, it may be useful to take a step back. Jared Newman at PCWorld points out that HTC has said it can probably work around the Apple patents or enter into some sort of licensing agreement. It’s unlikely that Android will be banned, he added.
Plus, HTC has already said it will appeal the decision, meaning that legal battles will probably keep the status quo going for quite some time.