Imports of HTC smartphones slowly resume

Phones held up over patent issues with Apple are being released after U.S. Customs inspections, the handset maker says.

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HTC's One X. Sarah Tew/CNET

After a patent dispute with Apple held up imports of some of its smartphones, HTC says its phones are beginning to trickle through U.S. Customs.

It's unknown whether the One X or Evo 4G LTE -- the first two phones put in limbo by Customs officials last week over unresolved patent infringement issues with Apple -- are among those being released. Each model must be inspected by Customs and will be released once the agency completes its inspection and approves its release, HTC said today in a statement.

"Some models have gone through inspection and been released to our carriers customers," HTC said. "We don't have the status of each specific device model at this time, but we are working closely with Customs."

HTC was dealt a setback in December when the International Trade Commission, a federal agency with the power to enforce bans on products shipping to the U.S., ruled that HTC infringed on Apple's patent for data detection. The process allows a mobile device to recognize items like e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and addresses in text and automatically move them to a calendar, dialer, or mapping application.

The quasi-judicial body said in its ruling that it would impose an import ban on some of HTC's products if the feature wasn't removed by April 19, 2012. Immediately after that ruling, HTC announced it would soon remove the feature from "all of our phones."

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