Apple Lost the BATTLE, But Will It Win This WAR?

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The U.S. International Trade Commission has refused Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) request for an emergency customs ban on HTC smartphones, but the agency is looking into whether the handset maker’s redesigned phones still constitute infringement of Apple’s “data detectors” patent.

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Late last year, Apple won an import ban on HTC smartphones powered by Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android software. HTC quickly responded with a workaround to avoid the patent issue, but Apple maintains that the devices continue to infringe on its patents and asked the ITC to step in and assert the injunction.

But Apple was unable to demonstrate “the propriety of temporary emergency action here,” the agency said, according to a Bloomberg report. “The commission will not direct Customs to detain all subject HTC products because the commission does not have the information necessary to determine whether the respondents are currently violating the commission’s limited exclusion order.”

In May, HTC revealed that some of its smartphones were being held up at U.S. Customs while they checked for compliance with the ITC exclusion order, but then said only days later that some models were already being cleared.

In a letter to the ITC last month, Apple suggested that HTC had misled the ITC and possibly Customs in order to sidestep the ban, and that its “factually erroneous excuse for continued importation of products covered by the LEO [limited exclusion order] bolsters the necessity for emergency relief” in the form of an emergency ban.

The patent in question is for a system that automatically detects actionable information and converts it into a link. Apple obtained the patent for the technology in the 1990s for use in Mac OS 8, but has more recently implemented the data detection into its mobile operating system, iOS.

HTC and Apple are set to discuss settlement options later this summer in court-ordered talks will begin on August 28.

Apple shares were up over 1 percent at noon today, and broke the $600 mark mid-morning.

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