Apple’s lawyers must be looking forward to the Christmas break considering the busy 12 months they’ve had, but they’ll have to hold off on the eggnog for one more week, as a US court has delayed its decision in a case involving HTC.
A decision by the International Trade Commission (ITC), a US trade panel that investigates patent infringement involving imported goods, had been expected today (14 December) but HTC has confirmed that the decision has been delayed until next Monday, 19 December. No reason has been given for the delay.
The outcome of this lawsuit is crucial for HTC as a ruling against the Taiwanese company could see all its Android products being banned from sale in the US, a market which accounts for 50 per cent of its revenue.
"It's hard to say whether the delay is good or bad because we don't know the true reason behind it," said Yuanta Securities analyst Bonnie Chang. "We hope the ruling will come as soon as possible so we can predict where the bottom is and whether there will be a settlement, and then we can have a better view of HTC's fundamentals in the coming year."
This lawsuit involves four distinct Apple patents and in July an Administrative Law Judge found that HTC was infringing two of the patents but said that it was not infringing on the other two.
Both companies were not happy with this outcome and asked for a review by the ITC. The first patent involved in the case relates to ability for data such as a phone number to be made into a hyperlink while the second deals with the structure of software and how it is organised. While the first patent would be easy enough to circumvent, the second poses a lot more problems.
The final ITC ruling in this case could have serious implications, not only for HTC, but for the wider Android community, with many seeing this case as a proxy for the larger fight for market share between Google's Android smartphones and tablets and Apple's product line.