The launch date of the HTC EVO 4G LTE has been postponed indefinitely while US Customs inspects incoming HTC imports, thanks to a potential Apple patent infringement. This also affects availability of the HTC One X, which is sold out online and at most AT&T stores. There is no word yet on when the EVO 4G LTE will be able to launch, or when the One X will be available again in the US.
We initially reported last December that the ITC had ruled in Apple's favor in a patent suit, and that this suit could potentially affect HTC imports to the US. However, HTC was quick to state that it had a workaround already in place, and so few people believed that this would end up affecting any consumers.
The patent in question (#5,946,647) involves the messaging app and browser in HTC Android devices, and covers activities such as automatically converting phone numbers and email addresses into links that then open a menu of various options. To make matters worse, the exclusion order that was handed to US Customs is completely classified and exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests.
HTC is in the process of appealing the ban, so ultimately the fate of the EVO 4G LTE and all future One X sales is up to a court to decide. Here is HTC's official 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.
Sprint is also instructing front-line employees to no longer reference the May 18 release date, as a delay of up to ten days is now expected. Sprint reps are officially being instructed to give customers the following responses when asked about the situation of the EVO 4G LTE:
Q: What response do we provide customers about HTC EVO 4G LTE availability?
A: The U.S. availability of the HTC EVO 4G LTE has been delayed. HTC is working to resolve this issue and appreciates your patience as they work to get products into Sprint channels.
Q: What impact does this have to on the HTC EVO 4G LTE that Iâ€™ve already purchased through pre-order?
A: The arrival of your HTC EVO 4G LTE will be delayed until HTC is able to resolve this issue.
Q: What is the status of pre-order and when will pre-order devices be delivered?
A: HTC is working with U.S. Customs for a speedy resolution and your pre-order fee still holds the device. We will provide a ship date as soon as possible. We maintain the promise for the preorder customers that they will be among the first to receive their HTC EVO 4G LTE units.
Q: When will HTC EVO 4G LTE be available to consumers?
A: We canâ€™t provide specific timing for product availability at this time and we appreciate your patience as HTC works to get products on store shelves as soon as possible. Educate the customer to chek the HTC EVO LTE microsite (http://www.sprint.com/evo4glte) for the availability date.
Q: What happens if I break or need to return my HTC EVO 4G LTE? Will I be able to get a replacement?
A: The delay in availability does not currently impact pre-ordered product returned for repair or replacement.
This news comes after scattered reports that third-party online retailer Wirefly was having trouble filling demand and would be forced to delay most preorders by 2-3 weeks.