Apple landed a potentially major victory against HTC on Monday after the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled in its favor
and found that some of HTC's Android smartphones and tablets violated one of its patents.
The ITC also handed down a ban on the importing of specific HTC Android devices that goes into affect April 19, 2012.
In its complaint to the ITC, Apple accused HTC of violating a number of its patents, each of which are older than smartphones themselves.
But the ITC found HTC in violation of only one of Apple's patents -- patent 5,946,647, which Apple was awarded in February 1996 and covers the "system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data," or basically a patent for handling the actions that take place in the background when you do something as simple as tapping a link in an email to open it in a Web browser.
The HTC phones or tablets banned by the ITC will include any that run on Google's Android 1.6 to 2.2 mobile operating system. The decision doesn't specifically call for an import ban on phones running newer versions of Android such as 2.3 Gingerbread, 3.0 Honeycomb or the new 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Most newer HTC phones and tablets run on Android Gingerbread, and some are due for upgrades to Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
Responding to the ruling, HTC said that the company was pleased that the ITC found that it wasn't in violation of all the patents Apple accused it of infringing
"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," HTC said.