Ah, the joys of patent disputes—more like the terrors. But reason has won out—at least for now—with HTC being allowed to once again import Android devices, probably most importantly the HTC One X on AT&T. The One X will be back on shelves this Sunday.
If you will harken back to mid-April, you will recall Apple winning a patent dispute ruling against HTC, banning it from importing any of its Android smartphones. The ban went into effect on April 19, and by mid-May the One X was running out of stock nationwide. While I’m sure there will still be supply issues, HTC’s flagship will be back on sale in AT&T’s retail stores this Sunday, April 10. Availability at other locations has not been specifically announced.
The patent itself harkens back to pre-Y2K, and refers to a device making a link from text—think of Skype’s “Click to Call” button. Basic stuff—stuff that would certainly fall under the category of the FTC’s letter to the ITC. I can’t help but wonder if that letter had anything to do with this change. If you don’t recall—or haven’t read the article—the FTC just sent a letter to the ITC, effectively saying that all these lawsuits based on foundational and widely licensed patents should be disallowed.
Unfortunately, no publicly announced action has been taken on this letter, and Apple has vowed to continue the various forms of appeal and such to attempt to re-ban HTC’s—and all Android makers, for that matter—import of devices. The moral of the story? Rush out and buy a One X this weekend while you still can. Not only will you end up with an awesome Android phone, but a healthy sales spike should at least annoy Apple, and perhaps even convince Apple that these lawsuits are not only frivolous, they’re also counter-productive.