Feeds

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

Taiwanese giant stumbles over Finns' guarded radio boffinry

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.