Feeds

HTC staring down the barrel of a US sales ban after Nokia's patent coup

Taiwanese giant stumbles over Finns' guarded radio boffinry

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Electronic gadgets made by HTC infringed two of Nokia's patents, US officials have ruled - and it's a decision that could lead to a ban on sales in America, or at least convince HTC to cough up some royalties.

Shockwaves from the judgement by the Uncle Sam's International Trade Commission (ITC) in Washington [PDF, mind-numbing] won't be felt immediately: both sides of the dispute get to argue against it. But the outcome could lead to a ban on US imports of HTC handsets or, more likely, HTC biting the bullet and paying Nokia for the rights to use the Finns' technology for attenuating radio reception.

Specifically, the infringed inventions cover "an arrangement for transmitting and receiving RF signals" and "a method and radio receiver for attenuating spurious signals."

There was a third patent still on the table, after various others had been dismissed, but the presiding judge decided that Nokia's patent on tethering wasn't being infringed by HTC, leaving the aforementioned two patents at issue. Both are deemed non-essential: in other words, a manufacturer doesn't have to use the protected designs in order to comply with recognised communications standards. It was HTC's choice to use them.

You see, these patents aren't part of the GSM standard. As Microsoft and Oracle consultant (and patent war correspondent) Florian Mueller explained, HTC has a licence to all the technologies Nokia owns within the mobile phone network standard, but the two patents in question are extra stuff developed by the Finns to improve the quality of the radio signal; thus only available to those who take out an extended licence.

The patents do still belong to Nokia, not Microsoft, despite its acquisition of Nokia's handset division. Nokia did bundle a ten-year licence on all its patents to the Windows software giant, but the intellectual property itself remains with the Finns.

Despite its name, the US International Trade Commission is an American body adjudicating trade disputes with the international community. America won't import items that breach US patents, and as the ITC makes decisions comparatively quickly it’s the second point of call for anyone asserting a patent. First action is generally a courtroom filing in Texas somewhere, but that can take years - while a US import ban can focus negotiations nicely.

An import ban is pretty unlikely, but it will encourage HTC to sign on the dotted line even if it hopes to get its money back at the end of a lengthy courtroom trial. But if Nokia pitches the royalty fees low enough then perhaps that legal battle can be shelved and everyone can move on to the next patent case on the interminable list. ®

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Microsoft: We're making ONE TRUE WINDOWS to rule us all
Enterprise, Windows still power firm's shaky money-maker
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.