Apple may be banned from importing its new iPhone into the United States if the International Trade Commission in Washington DC finds that Cupertino has violated an HTC patent for connecting to the 4G network.
Apple is subject to an ongoing investigation by the the International Trade Commission under Judge Thomas Pender, after Taiwanese company HTC filed a complaint in August 2011.
HTC alleges that Apple is violating two of its US patents on 4G or LTE technology and asked the Commission to issue an exclusion order and a cease-and-desist order to Apple, which could result in a ban on the import of the next iPhone into the United States.
At the most recent hearing reported by Businessweek, Judge Pender signalled that he was not going to quash HTC's US patents as Apple had requested - saying that it would take "clear and convincing" evidence to get him to renounce a patent.
“I have to be pretty darn certain a US patent is invalid,” he said.
Only Apple devices that have 4G internet capability will be affected by the case - currently that is just the third edition of the iPad but it will likely include the new iPhone due out on 12 September, as it is expected to have the same 4G or LTE standard connection.
Presumably iPads and iPhones have to be imported *into* the US because they are made and assembled in China.
HTC originally accused Apple of eight patent infringements but that has been whittled down to two in the past year. Both are for data transmission in wireless devices.
If HTC does win the case, it's likely it will use it as a bargaining tool with Apple in their broader patent wars.
The complaint brought by HTC Corp against Apple: 'Certain Electronic Devices with Communication Capabilities Components Thereof, and Related Software' DN 2841 is being heard by the International Trade Commission. ®