ITC Says it Will Look at Apple’s Patent Complaint Against HTC

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) announced yesterday that it has voted to launch an investigation into the patent violation complaint filed by Apple against HTC on July 8. Apple has asked the ITC to block HTC’s Android-powered smartphones and tablets from entering the U.S.

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The notice on the USITC web site explains that “the USITC has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case.” One of the USITC’s administrative law judges will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing, and the USITC “will make a final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time.”

The USITC still has 45 days to set a target date for completing the investigation, and any remedial orders it recommends become final 60 days after they’re issued, unless the U.S. Trade Representative disallows them for policy reasons, so this process could take several months to play out.

As CNET noted, Apple is accusing HTC of violating five of its patents, “including one used for scrolling operations, another for programmable tactile touch-screen displays, and one for a double-sided touch-sensitive panel.” Apple needs a favorable decision on just one of the patents for the USITC to find HTC in violation and block its imports.