Apple Scores Hit on HTC in U.S. Patent Case

iPhone maker has rights to certain smartphone features, International Trade Commission rules.

Apple on Monday scored a hit in an ongoing patent brawl with mobile handset giant HTC with a U.S. trade authority ruling the iPhone maker has rights to features using one-tap screen commands.

The International Trade Commission gave Apple part of what it wanted in a "limited exclusion order" directing that HTC stop bringing offending smartphones into the United States effective on April 19, 2012.

Taiwan-based HTC expected to be able to adapt the Android-powered handsets to sidestep the trouble with the single patent before the deadline.

The move was expected to come at the cost of removing some features smartphone users enjoy and came as part of an ongoing campaign by Apple to cobble the momentum of smartphones powered by Google's Android software.

The patent affects functions such as touching a smartphone screen to follow a Web link or call a phone number displayed on a page.

The decision was deemed final and sent for review by the staff of U.S. President Barack Obama, who was unlikely to overrule it.

The final order came with the commission reversing a prior decision and ruling in favor of HTC on patented technology that would have been harder to design out of handsets.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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