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Apple after HTC again over patent infringement

Just as HTC's latest smartphones cleared a US Customs hurdle, Apple this week filed another complaint with the International Trade Commission that looks to have more HTC devices banned in the US.

According to Apple, a recent HTC patent workaround that allowed the HTC One X and HTC EVO 4G LTE to be sold in the US does not solve the patent infringement problem, so those and other HTC devices should not be sold in the country.

Other devices Apple is looking to have banned from the states include the One V, Inspire 4G, Vivid, Status, Sensation, Sensation 4G, Wildfire, Wildfire S, Hero, Hero S, EVO 4G, EVO V 4G, EVO Design 4G, EVO 3D, Amaze 4G, Droid Incredible 4G LTE, myTouch 4G, myTouch 4G Slide, Merge, Rezound, Rhyme, Thunderbolt, Flyer, Jetstream EVO View 4G, and Droid Incredible 2.

In a statement, an HTC spokesman said "the US Customs office has reviewed and approved HTC devices for import into the US, as they are in compliance with the ITC's ruling".

The ITC in December found that HTC smartphones infringed on Apple-held patents, and banned the import of devices with Apple-owned technology after 19 April. HTC developed a workaround, but the HTC EVO 4G LTE and the HTC One X were held up at US Customs while officials verified that the technology had been removed.

Those inspections were succesful, and the HTC EVO 4G LTE arrived for Sprint users on 2 June; AT&T is scheduled re-start sales of the HTC One X by 10 June.

As noted by patent blogger Florian Mueller, "Apple's position is that HTC's alleged workaround still infringes the 'data tapping' patent". Apple's ITC complaint includes a screen shot of the current HTC One S, which has a drop-down menu in the browser that Apple says infringes on its data-tapping patent (like tapping a phone number on a website and having your phone automatically dial it).

Mueller said that the patent "covers the inner workings that enable this feature, as opposed to the feature itself". Basically, HTC thinks it has resolved the problem, Apple disagrees, and it's now up to the ITC to weigh in.