HTC Already Working Around Apple’s Smartphone Ban

HTC didn’t wait for the dust to settle following a U.S. International Trade Commission ruling blocking the sale of its Android-based smartphones for infringing on one of Apple’s patents. HTC has already finished the work it needs to do to sidestep the features that Apple’s patent covers, which means the company may be able to avoid pulling its phones from store shelves by the injunction’s April 19, 2012 deadline.

HTC working around Apple patents to sidestep injunctionHTC is working on plans to avoid an injunction on its smartphones

The patent that’s causing HTC headaches describes a process for locating specific types of data in a document, such as a phone number, and making that item tappable so it launches a different app. If the data was a phone number, for example, tapping it would launch the phone app — a feature Apple has offered since the original iPhone shipped.

Despite the feature’s usefulness, HTC CEO Peter Chou said “It’s actually quite rarely used,” according to Bloomberg.

Apple targeted HTC instead of Google because the data detector feature isn’t a standard part of Android OS. Instead, HTC modified Android to include the feature with its phones.

Apple is also targeting HTC in a separate lawsuit where the ITC is currently reviewing a preliminary ruling that the phone maker is infringing on two more of Apple’s patents.

HTC didn’t say exactly what it has done to work around the injunction, but it seems likely that the company plans to simply disable the data detectors feature with a software update.