The International Trade Commission was supposed to have a ruling ready in the Apple vs. HTC case on December 6 but it was later postponed to December 14. After another delay the ITC has imposed a formal import ban for HTC devices starting April 19, 2012.
The ban is not a general ban against HTC Android devices but only refers to those phones made by the Taiwanese company that run Google’s mobile platform and which relate to one of the two claims of a “data tapping patent” — the one referring to the phone automatically formatting phone numbers and such data in a general text, allowing the user to tap on the data to bring up the appropriate application.
HTC devices which do not implement this will not be affected by the ban. If HTC or Google find a way to use the “data tapping patent” in a non-infringing way or remove the functionality altogether from phones, the ban will have no effect — even though it will leave HTC somewhat behind Apple and even other Android OEMs feature-wise.
Update: HTC is happy about the ITC decision and its plan is to remove the bit altogether from phones. Here’s the whole statement:
“This decision is a win for HTC and we are gratified that the commission affirmed the judge’s determination on the ‘721 and ‘983 patents, and reversed its decision on the ‘263 patent and partially on the ‘647 patent. We are very pleased with the determination and we respect it. The ‘647 patent is a small UI experience and HTC will completely remove it from all of our phones soon“.