HTC on Apple lawsuits: “We have enough patents to make a stand”

HTC on Apple lawsuits: “We have enough patents to make a stand”

Taiwanese smartphone giant HTC has no intention of submitting to Apple in lawsuits brought against the company, insisting that the company is fully prepared to fight the Cupertino-based company with patents of its own, the BBC reveals.

HTC CEO Peter Chou, responding to the US International Trade Commission’s ruling that his company had infringed on two of Apple’s iPhone patents, believes the smartphone vendor has “enough patents to make a stand”, effectively warning Apple that it could use newly acquired patents from its purchase of S3 Graphics to use against the iOS device maker.

Chou even claimed that the ITC’s senior staff attorney believed that HTC had not infringed Apple’s patents.

Should the ruling not be overturned, Chou remarks that HTC is “confident that [it has] a strong case” and that the “war” over smartphone customers should be fought with innovation in the marketplace, not through the courts.

On July 15, Apple was granted at least a partial victory in its patent suit against HTC, with US International Trade Commission has today ruled that HTC violated two of Apple’s patents. The ITC judge that ruled on the case provided an initial determination that HTC had infringed on two out of the 10 patents involved in the suit, according to a statement from the company.

HTC vowed from the beginning that it would appeal the decision, with Grace Lei, general counsel for HTC stating “HTC will vigorously fight these 2 remaining patents through an appeal before the ITC Commissioners who make the final decision.”

The case stems from an ITC filing by Apple on July 12th that sought the halt of imports on several flagship HTC devices including the HTC Droid Incredible, Droid Incredible 2, Wildfire, T-Mobile mytouch 3G, T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide, T-Mobile G1, T-Mobile G2, Evo 4G, Aria, Desire, Hero, Merge, Inspire 4G, Evo 4G, Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 4G, and the HTC Flyer tablet.

Apple stated the unlicensed use of several patents by these devices as a basis for the claim, including patents on scrolling, rotation and scaling operations on touch-screen displays, as well as touch screens used in vehicle instrumentation, to prove its claims. There is also one that refers to ‘portable computers’ and one that is for a double-sided touch-sensitive panel.

If HTC is unable to overturn the ruling, it could mean trouble for HTC and a possible halt to the import of these devices, says Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents, “this could in a worst-case scenario result in a shutdown of many or even all Android-based HTC products in the U.S. market. In a less extreme scenario,” said Mueller, “HTC might have to remove certain functionality from its products, and that could result in a significant degradation of the user experience and quality of those devices.”

It could also affect all Android device makers, not just HTC. If the patents are software, not hardware, related and relate to the common Android code base that all manufacturers of these devices rely on to run their products, Mueller says that the consequences could be dire for the entire Android market stating, “Apple could soon be in a strong position to obtain import bans against dozens of device makers.”

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