Apple’s legal battles are nowhere near an end, an the ITC (US International Trade Commission) is stepping in to take a closer look at HTC’s recent complaints against Apple, claiming copyright infringement. HTC already had complaints filed against Apple, but amended them in early September to include more patents that had been acquired from Google. While the case is expected to take 18 months to resolve, the ITC will submit their ruling within 45 days. It’s the ITC’s job to look at how the US does international trade, and it falls under their auspice to decide whether or not a product can be shipped into the US based on its relationship to copyright law. In short, the ITC could stop Apple products from being shipped into the US from its manufacturing sources if they think those products infringe on HTC’s patents.
Don’t panic too much yet about whether or not you’ll get your iPad 3 whenever it’s released; copyright suits are filed constantly by major tech corporations against one another. Apple itself has several irons in the fire. The current corporate culture as allowed (or encouraged) by US business laws make it possible for suits to be filed “just to see if they stick”. In fact, the last decade has seen a sharp rise in what’s commonly referred to as “patent trolls”: Companies that exist only to hold and collect patents in hopes that at a later date they can sue other companies for inadvertently infringing upon them. One notable patent troll, Tim Langdell, has gotten a lot of attention for his underhanded attempts to profit from patent laws in ways they were never really meant to be used.