Feeds

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

Taiwanese giant stumbles over Finns' guarded radio boffinry

3 Big data security analytics techniques

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. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.