Monday, August 1, 2011

Apple's dispute with HTC goes global: HTC files lawsuit in the UK

Bloomberg just reported that HTC took its patent spat with Apple global and filed a lawsuit against Apple on July 29, 2011 in London with the High Court of England and Wales.

At this stage, no information on the scope of the lawsuit is available. It was filed by HTC Europe Co., HTC's European subsidiary. It could be an infringement lawsuit or a declaratory judgment action against some of Apple's UK patents. One way or the other, this is the first European lawsuit between the two litigants to become known.

It's obvious that Apple will strike down upon HTC with a vengeance in the UK and possibly several other countries. Apple already has a lot of experience with intercontinental patent litigation. Apple and Nokia were suing each other (until they settled in June) not only in the US but also in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. Apple and Samsung are embroiled in litigation in at least 11 courts in 9 countries on 4 continents.

I have updated my battlemap to reflect the new venue:


Contrary to popular misbelief, there are software patents in Europe -- many of them, in fact, and many of them are enforceable.

I previously listed the nine European software patents over which Apple sued Nokia in the UK as well as in Germany. Look at this list, and you will find that most if not all of those patents could perhaps be asserted against HTC as well. And Apple has many more than those, but the fact that Apple previously sued Nokia over them in Europe makes them particularly interesting.

By filing a lawsuit in Europe, HTC shows its determination to keep fighting. That determination is beyond doubt. But no matter in how many countries HTC may file lawsuits against Apple, it won't be able to change anything about Apple's objectives. Apple optimizes for product differentiation, not patent licensing revenues.

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