HTC was dealt a massive blow today after a court ruled that the HTC One Mini infringed one of Nokia’s patents and shouldn’t be sold in the UK. From December 6th, the Taiwanese phone maker will effectively banned from stocking the handset in the region.
Nokia requested an injunction on October 30 over European Patent number 0998024, which allegedly cover a wide number of HTC handsets that use Broadcom BCM4239, BCM4330, BCM4334, and Qualcomm WR1605 chips. The court agreed that some, but not all of these chips infringed the patents. A number of devices breach the patent, including the HTC One, One Mini, One Max, 8S and Desire 601.
HTC argued that it would be “catastrophic” if it could no longer sell the HTC One, its flagship Android handset in the UK. The court accepted that such a sales block would make HTC vulnerable between now and March next year, when it will release a successor to the HTC One, and has given the company until December 6 to appeal its decision.
The HTC One Mini, however, cannot be saved by this appeal. “In the case of the One Mini, the balance comes down in favour of refusing a stay,” the court said. In this case the potential harm is more evenly weighted, but importantly the phone was launched much more recently and HTC designed and launched it at a time when HTC knew it was facing a claim for infringement of the Patent.
In short, the One Mini was conceived at a time when HTC knew it was allegedly infringing Nokia’s patents. This makes it a far more damaging device than the older HTC One, which will be effectively discontinued next year. While the appeal is pending, Bloomberg reports that HTC has agreed to halt imports of the alleged products into the UK. If HTC can’t win its appeal – should it choose to submit one – it’s possible that a larger number of devices will be disappearing from store shelves up and down the UK.
Update: A HTC Spokesperson told TNW: “HTC is pleased by the decision of the High Court of England and Wales to stay an injunction against certain chipsets, including those in our flagship HTC One, pending the outcome of our appeal against the validity and infringement of Nokia’s EP 0 998 024 patent.
“Whilst the Court also granted an injunction that affects other third-party chipsets, we have filed urgent application to appeal. In the meantime, we are working with our chip suppliers to explore alternative solutions.
As always, HTC’s primary focus is on supporting our customers and ensuring minimal disruption to them and our business. Rest assured that our award-winning HTC One handset will be available as usual.”