Trade Commission Delays Ruling in Apple-HTC Case

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) has postponed its verdict on Apple Inc.'s closely watched complaint that HTC Corp. smartphones powered by Google Inc.'s Android mobile operating system violates Apple patents.

The decision, which could lead to a ban on the import of HTC smartphones, will be issued on Dec. 14 instead of the original plan of Dec. 6, the ITC said Monday.

The delayed ruling comes as the Cupertino, Calif., iPhone maker continues its legal fights against major competitors, including Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. Amid booming sales of mobile devices, nearly every major mobile device manufacturer has actively sued or is currently defending itself from claims of infringing one another's patents.

Apple so far has been largely successful in its patent battles with HTC. Last month, the commission said Apple's devices didn't violate patents held by S3 Graphics, which HTC said it acquired in order to use its patents in legal battles. Earlier, the ITC had said some Apple devices violated HTC's patents, while others didn't.

If the ITC rules in Apple's favor, the commission will need to rule on the issue of whether HTC's products should be banned. But an unfavorable ruling could still hurt HTC's standing in the marketplace, where it ranks as the third-largest smartphone maker in the US, behind Apple and Research In Motion Ltd., according to Nielsen.

It could also give Apple leverage against other Android device manufacturers, such as Samsung, in any attempts to settle those lawsuits as well.

HTC declined to comment. An Apple spokeswoman reiterated the company's earlier statement that competitors should not steal their technology.