Apple wins import ban on select HTC smartphones

Apple (s aapl) on Monday won a formal import ban against some HTC Android (s goog) handsets in the U.S. from the International Trade Commission. The ITC decision relates to HTC devices that links data in documents like email to other applications, for example, a phone number that when tapped makes a call using the phone’s dialer.

The ban narrowly applies only to devices that implement this feature as described by a “data tapping patent” held by Apple, according to FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller. Should HTC be able to work around or disable this feature in its Android devices, it’ll be able to once again ship and sell those handsets in the U.S. market.

Samsung likewise made changes to certain features of the Galaxy Tab 10.1N in Germany in order to sidestep a ruling against its tablet in that country, so it’s very possible HTC will find a workaround before the import ban is scheduled to take effect on April 19, 2012. But such a workaround could chip away at Android’s usability and create a more frustrating experience for users.

Still, it’s a victory for Apple, and ammunition the company can add to its armory in its ongoing war against Google’s mobile operating system and the devices that run it. As Mueller points out, should Apple be able to achieve the same kind of success with other system-level Android elements, it could begin to make a serious dent in Android’s ability to win over users.