Google Defends Android System, HTC Phones in Apple Patent Fight

By: Susan Decker

Source :

Google Inc. told a trade panel that HTC Corp. phones using the Android operating system shouldn’t be barred from the U.S. if they are found to infringe Apple Inc. patents.

An import ban would hurt the ability of consumers to have their choice of mobile phones in a fast-growing industry, Google said in a filing yesterday with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington. The ITC, which can block imports of products found to violate U.S. patents, is reviewing a trade judge’s finding that HTC’s Android phones infringe two Apple patents.

“Apple is the largest seller of mobile computing devices in the U.S.,” Mountain View, California-based Google said in the filing. “Allowing this supplier to eliminate the competition from a fast-moving maverick competitor (HTC) could drive up prices, diminish service, decrease consumers’ access to the technology and reduce innovation.”

Google argued that HTC’s Android devices “are helping prevent Apple’s iOS from becoming the sole viable mobile platform.” Pointing to Apple’s patent cases against Samsung Electronics Co. and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., which also make Android phones, Google said a victory in the HTC dispute could lead to a monopoly on the mobile-device industry in the U.S.

HTC, based in Taoyuan, Taiwan, accounts for more than a third of Android devices sold in the U.S., according to Google.

The six-member commission is scheduled to announce its decision on Dec. 6. As part of its analysis, the agency has to consider the effect of any ban on the public interest. If one is imposed, President Barack Obama can overrule based on public safety concerns.

The case is In the Matter Of Certain Personal Data and Mobile Communications Devices and Related Software, 337-710, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).