The U.S. International Trade Commission issued a preliminary ruling that Apple’s iOS devices do not infringe on four patents owned by Android device maker HTC, according to a report from FOSS Patents. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued the ruling, which is subject to review by the full panel of judges at the ITC.
The case involved in this ruling was the first counter claim HTC made against Apple in May of 2010 after the iPhone and iPad maker filed its own complaints in March of the same year that accused HTC of violating several patents owned by Apple.
As noted by Florian Mueller at FOSS Patents, this particular complaint from HTC is the weakest of the many ITC complaints and lawsuits flying between Apple and Android makers like HTC, Samsung, and Motorola Mobility.
While it was the first counter-complaint from HTC, the Taiwan-based company has since beefed up its patent portfolio by acquiring patents and the rights to patents from companies ranging from Android platform curator Google to graphics company S3 Graphics (though some of S3’s patents have been ruled unpatentable) and other smaller companies.
In other words, while this preliminary ruling is a victory for Apple, many considered it a foregone conclusion, and the patent wars have largely moved on to more complex terrain for all parties involved.