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Apple gains ground in patent suit against Google’s mobile operating system

U.S. rules that some Android features infringe on Apple’s IP

Apple achieved a partial victory on Monday in its ongoing patent war against Google’s mobile operating system, Android. The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that certain features common in many smartphones are protected under Apple’s patent, and Android phone maker HTC will have to change the phones’ design to accommodate this ruling.

The features decided on were little things we have come to think of as standard: tapping your finger on a number to call it, and scheduling an appointment with another tap of the finger on a date in an email. Despite the convenience these features bring, HTC said in a statement after the ruling that they are just a small part of a user’s experience.

Apple did not run away with the day, however, as the Commission also overruled an earlier decision that would have protected the internal organization of software under Apple’s patent and made it very difficult for HTC to adapt its phones.

But the war is in no way over. While Apple is suing HTC and Samsung, makers of Android phones, the real target of the suit is Google, which Apple believes is blatantly infringing on its intellectual property with the Android OS. Before his death, Steve Jobs said to his biographer that he wanted to “destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.” And as Android’s market share continues to grow (Android phones represented 52.5 percent of the market in the third quarter of 2011, to Apple’s 15 percent), Apple may get even more desperate to win.

Read more about the decision, and the battle that led up to it, in the New York Times.

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