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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is well on its way to destroying the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android as a competitor, writes FossPatents, with an International Trade Commission holding that Apple has valid patents on key smart phone technologies.

HTC (OTC:HTCXF) is downplaying the impact of the rulings, but an identical case could be brought against Motorola (NYSE:MMI), Samsung (OTC:SSNLF), and any other Android maker, with the same result. FossPatents, which has been following the issue closely for months, writes that the patents seem impossible to invent around, and could give Apple an absolute monopoly on smart phones for years.

Making things worse is that Apple has 16 other patent claims before the ITC concerning HTC, which could order a ban on imports of the devices. Apple could then go to federal court seeking damages on devices already in the market.

Apple is not the only company pushing patent issues against Android makers, and succeeding. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is also headed to an ITC judgment against Motorola and Motorola is now desperate to delay that decision while it ponders its options.

FossPatents, run by former anti-software patent activist Florian Mueller, counts 49 separate suits now taking place against Android, including a suit by Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) directly against Google over Java.

Even without the legal troubles, Android is losing steam among developers, who have found that Apple users are more likely to pay, and pay more, for apps than Android owners. This despite the fact there are now more Android apps than iPhone ones.

For the phone makers, the options are limited. They could go into the business of supporting other platforms, like Microsoft Windows mobile, but they would still be liable for past infringements. They could turn to Google for support in their legal fights, and for reimbursement on liabilities, but so far Google has not been receptive.

It all represents a tremendous black eye for Google, which has been claiming Android as a big success all year, but may now find itself with no market and no prospects for interesting Chinese OEMs in future Google hardware. Google sold Android to OEMs as a Linux, as an open source system that would give the OEMs freedom, and control over their software.

If the legal system prevents the development of new software platforms by companies without huge patent portfolios with which to fight their legal battles, moreover, it could have huge impacts on the technology market for years to come. What if Apple had been able to use patent law and prevent the development and marketing of Windows in the late 1980s?

All this is highly negative for the phone makers, and for Google, but positive for Apple, for Microsoft, and for other companies that depend on patents to make their way in the tech world, like IBM (NYSE:IBM).

Source: How Apple Could Give Google a Big Black Eye