Here’s hoping that you already managed to get your hands on an HTC One X, because it may be a while before they appear on store shelves again.
According to a release put out by HTC last night, U.S. Customs has blocked shipments of AT&T’s HTC One X and Sprint’s EVO 4G LTE thanks to an ITC ruling handed down last year.
The news may come as an especially large bummer for Sprint customers looking to upgrade to the new EVO, as a new report from the Wall Street Journal indicates that device will miss its original May 18 launch date. Sprint has since scrubbed their website of references to the device’s forthcoming launch, and there’s still no word on a revised launch window.
To get a firmer grasp on why this is happening, we have to flash back to 2011. After HTC was originally slammed with allegations that they infringed ten of Apple’s patents with their “personal data and mobile communications devices.” International Trade Commission Judge Carl Charneski ruled in Apple’s favor on two of those claims (which just so happened to stem from the same patent, No. 5,946,647) in July. After a smattering of delays, the ITC handed down their limited exclusion order in December, which prohibited the importation of devices that violate the ‘647 patent.
And what are the offending bits? The big one in this case deals with a minor UI feature, namely the ability for users to touch a phone number displayed in an email or a webpage in order to fire up the phone’s dialer.
The import ban didn’t go into effect until April 19 (the ITC wanted to give HTC some time to make the appropriate fixes), but the company apparently didn’t make thoughtful use of their time. HTC now claims to have fixed that “small UI experience”, and noted in their release that they are “working closely with Customs to secure approval” for the devices to be released. The ITC’s order does allow for refurbished handsets to enter the country in order to replace faulty devices, though both devices in question are brand spanking new (one of them hasn’t even been released yet) so that little loophole will likely go unused.
Even so, we’re left with little clue as to when shipments of devices will be permitted once again. Sprint and AT&T can’t be too pleased with this turn of events — I’ve reached out to both carriers for comment, but haven’t heard back at time of writing.