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Monday, December 05, 2011, 02:25 pm PT (05:25 pm ET)

Patent ruling to ban HTC products in U.S. pushed back one week

A final ITC ruling that was scheduled for Tuesday in the ongoing patent dispute Apple brought against HTC has been pushed back eight days, could lead to the banning of sales for many HTC handsets in the U.S.

The U.S. International Trade Commission announced on Monday that it has postponed a final ruling in Apple's first patent complaint against HTC to Dec. 14, with the Taiwanese company facing a sales ban on many of its handsets, according to Florian Mueller of Foss Patents.

Although no reason was given for the extension, Mueller believes that an overwhelming backlog of cases has forced the ITC to push back the hearing. He goes on to say that the relatively short delay could mean that the commission is close to a decision and unlikely to postpone again.

The ITC ruling is a stepping stone for Apple in its patent dispute against Google's Android platform, though a ban on HTC's hardware would be seen as a substantial victory for the iPhone maker and could resonate in cases taking place worldwide.

Apple first filed its complaint against HTC in March, 2010, and although the suit included units running Windows Mobile, it was primarily seen as an attack against Android.

AppleInsider reported that while hardware is the legal focus of the lawsuit, Apple may be attempting to target Android in the claim as it went so far as to note which HTC handsets ran Microsoft's OS and which ran Google's.

An initial ruling in July, 2011 found that HTC did violate two Apple patents, and the final verdict on Dec. 14 may bring the same outcome. However, the Taiwanese handset maker does have the option to exercise workarounds to the possible import ban, though the company has yet to make any official announcement.

Mueller notes that the week following two weeks will be busy for Apple's legal team, citing a Dec. 8 hearing in France where the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris will rule on Samsung's request for an early ban on the iPhone 4S.

Besides the Dec. 14 ITC ruling, next week will see two hearings against Samsung, both scheduled to take place on Dec. 16. The first will be in Mannheim, Germany, while the other will take place in Milan, Italy where Samsung is looking for another preliminary injunction against the iPhone 4S.