Mobile

HTC One X, Evo 4G LTE shipments delayed over Apple patent investigation

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HTC’s One X and and Evo 4G LTE may have been praised for their decidedly un-iPhone-esque designs, but the differences are apparently not enough for U.S. Customs.

The two devices have fallen victim to a surprising U.S. Customs ability to ban the importation of products that it suspects infringe on patents, The Wall Street Journal reports. In this case, the patent in question is Apple’s #5,946,647 patent, which has nothing to do with the phones themselves but rather the software running on them: The patent simply covers the ability to, for example, convert a phone number into a link that can launch a phone’s dialer. HTC calls the feature minor, but it’s clearly significant enough to draw lots of unwanted attention.

The delay and investigation are a result of a December International Trade Commission ruling that ordered a ban on the importation of any devices that infringe on the aforementioned patent. To avoid the ban, HTC was supposed to strip the functionality from its phones, but that apparently didn’t happen with the Evo 4G LTE and One series.

In a statement, HTC says it “believes” that its devices comply with the ITC ruling and that it’s working with customs to get the ball rolling on shipments. “The HTC One X and HTC Evo 4G LTE have been received enthusiastically by customers and we appreciate their patience as we work to get these products into their hands as soon as possible,” the company said.

“Soon as possible,” however might not be good enough for Sprint and its customers. The biggest Sprint device of the year so far, the EVO 4G LTE is scheduled for a May 18th release. Given today’s news, the device clearly likely won’t be able to make that time frame. Even Sprint has removed any mention of the release date from its website. Instead, the device is simply “coming soon.”

The One S, in contrast, was released on AT&T in April. The device is listed as “out of stock” on AT&T’s website.

We’ve reached out to Sprint and AT&T for comments on the situation and will update this space when the companies respond.

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