Not the knockout blow Steve Jobs sought; Google has until April to find a workaround
Apple (AAPL) has won a partial victory in an intellectual property case that Steve Jobs had famously vowed to fight to his “last dying breath.”
The U.S. International Trade commission ruled Monday that the software in some of HTC’s Android smartphones violated one provision of an Apple patent and that those phones would no longer be allowed into the U.S.
But the ruling is not as broad as Apple had hoped, and the import ban doesn’t take effect until April, giving HTC — and Google (GOOG), whose software the phones were running — time to fashion a workaround.
The announcement was made after the close of markets:
According to FOSS Patents‘ Florian Mueller, who has been closely following the case, the ruling is not the knockout punch Apple had been seeking.
UPDATE: ISI’s Brian Marshall offered several “quick thoughts” on the ruling, among them:
- HTC (#2 Android smartphone vendor after Samsung) has low-20% share of the U.S. smartphone market and has shipped ~44 million units globally over the last 4 quarters (vs. AAPL’s ~72 million iPhone shipments)
- We believe this ruling lends credence to AAPL’s view that Android-based phones have infringed on AAPL’s intellectual property (IP) and could lead to a stronger position for AAPL in its other cases against Android vendors (e.g., Samsung, Motorola Mobility/GOOG, etc.)
- With ~$80 billion in net cash, we believe AAPL is not interested in a financial settlement with HTC or other Android vendors but wants to stop the shipment/sale of products that infringe on their vast IP portfolio