HTC loses Apple patent dispute

Smartphone technology

HTC loses Apple patent dispute

Kathleen Hall

Smartphone manufacturer HTC has lost a patent ruling to Apple, in a move one expert described as a “narrow victory”.

The International Trade Commission found that HTC infringed one patent held by the US technology giant – out of a dispute concerning 10 patents. From April 2012, HTC phones that use the technology covered by the patent will be banned from sale in the US.

"We are very pleased with the determination and we respect it. However, the '647 patent is a small user interface experience and HTC will completely remove it from all of our phones soon," said HTC's general counsel, Grace Lei, in a statement.

Adam Rose, partner at law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, said the ruling would have little impact. “HTC and Apple have been at loggerheads for a long time, but as there were a number of patents involved here, for Apple it is a narrow victory. This is not a blow for HTC, which no doubt already has a solution for this," he said.

Several technology companies are currently locked into ongoing patent wars, including disputes among Microsoft, Motorola, Samsung and Apple. 

“Increasingly, for complex technology such as that used in smartphones, the clever invention bit is a small aspect of the wider product. It is a minefield for the companies involved as they are trying to maximise land-grab from the invention," said Rose.

“In a way, it is unsurprising that there are so many disputes, as all these companies are operating to give the same user experience, so it is inevitable they are coming up against each other.”

He said the battles will continue for as long as the technology remains relevant to the market.

“The amount of money involved is so big and all these companies are competing for a massive market, so getting just one extra percent of that represents a huge amount of revenue,” added Rose.

The patent ruling related to a user interface feature which allows users to grab embedded information. HTC said it would completely remove it from all of its phones.


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