United States customs delayed the import of the HTC One X and Evo 4G LTE due to patent issues with Apple, according to The Verge. This is the first type of delay of this nature that we have seen, and it is definitely very interesting. Customs is holding back the handsets while the agency investigates outstanding patent issues currently raised with Apple. During December of last year, the International Trade Commission ruled in favor of Apple and ordered a ban on a number of HTC products. The import ban went in place on April 19, 2012, which was supposed to give HTC time to fix the issues. According to the ruling, HTC was breaking a so-called “data tapping” patent. Google Patent Search described Patent 5946647:

A system and method causes a computer to detect and perform actions on structures identified in computer data. The system provides an analyzer server, an application program interface, a user interface and an action processor. The analyzer server receives from an application running concurrently data having recognizable structures, uses a pattern analysis unit, such as a parser or fast string search function, to detect structures in the data, and links relevant actions to the detected structures. The application program interface communicates with the application running concurrently, and transmits relevant information to the user interface. Thus, the user interface can present and enable selection of the detected structures, and upon selection of a detected structure, present the linked candidate actions. Upon selection of an action, the action processor performs the action on the detected structure.

HTC’s CEO Peter Chou quickly told Reuters in April that the company already began testing new devices to work around the patent issue before the April 19 ban went into effect. The ban was set in place even before the announcement of HTC’s latest One X device; however, the new device still falls under the ban, as The Verge pointed out.

Even if HTC fixed the issues, U.S. Customs is still reviewing if the HTC One X and Evo 4G LTE are violating the patent that HTC is accused of breaking by the ITC. Until then, shipments of the HTC One X and Evo 4G LTE are at a stand still, which could affect device sales. Many AT&T stores across the U.S. are currently sold out of the HTC One X, and AT&T is out of stock on its online store.

I do not think it would be too far-fetched to say this is something Apple wants—especially because the HTC One X at AT&T and Evo 4G LTE at Sprint are two hot devices that could cut into iPhone sales. We reviewed the HTC One X over at 9to5Google, where we called it “one giant leap for HTC.” Today’s stop on importing definitely does not help HTC, which recently reported some not-so good-looking Q1 2o12 earnings. The company reported only $2.3 billion in quarterly revenue, which was a drop of 35 percent year-over-year. I am sure HTC is looking for the One X and Evo 4G to help bring back /quarterly revenue. HTC issued a statement:

The US availability of the HTC One X and HTC EVO 4G LTE has been delayed due to a standard U.S. Customs review of shipments that is required after an ITC exclusion order. We believe we are in compliance with the ruling and HTC is working closely with Customs to secure approval. 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.

(Image No. 2 via Ars)