Smartphone Maker Waits For Patent Decision

The world's No. 4 smartphone maker HTC may have to pull most of its phones from the U.S. market. That's because of Apple's ongoing patent battle with the makers of smartphones that use Google's Android operating system. The International Trade Commission is set to rule on the case Wednesday.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The smartphone maker HTC may have to pull most of its phones off the market in the United States. That's part of an ongoing patent battle between Apple and smartphones that use Google's Android operating system.

Laura Sydell reports, the U.S. International Trade Commission is set to rule on this tomorrow.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: Before Steve Jobs died, he accused Google of stealing ideas from the iPhone. He famously vowed to go thermonuclear against Android, Google's mobile operating system. Nothing has blown up, but Apple has brought a series of patent infringement charges against HTC, which makes Android phones. Among the patents is one that lets you tap your finger on a phone number in an email and dial the number or move it into your contacts list.

Julie Samuels of the non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation says the suit is in front of the International Trade Commission.

JULIE SAMUELS: The only thing the ITC can do is prohibit any kind of technology that is found to infringe a party's patents from being imported into the United States.

SYDELL: So, says Samuels, if HTC loses, there will be fewer smartphones on the market. In court papers, Google has argued that banning Android phones from the U.S. would give Apple's iPhone a virtual monopoly. Some analysts say if HTC loses the case, the company could also try and purchase the rights to Apple's patents to keep its phones in the U.S. market. HTC can also appeal the case to the U.S. Trade Representative, who is part of the Obama administration. Laura Sydell, NPR News.

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