Friday, July 26, 2013

German court dismisses Nokia's SMS sorting patent cases against HTC and ViewSonic

I have a quick update on Nokia's patent litigations against HTC and ViewSonic. As I predicted in my May 29 post on the Nokia v. HTC and Nokia v. ViewSonic joint trial held by the Munich I Regional Court after separate first hearings (ViewSonic, HTC), the court's 21st Civil Chamber (Presiding Judge: Andreas Mueller, or "Mueller" in German) dismissed these lawsuits, finding no infringement of the defendants' Android-based devices of EP0982959 on a "mobile telephone user interface for short messages". For the issues in the case, let me just refer you to my previous posts.

Nokia issued the following statement:

"Nokia respectfully disagrees with the decision of the court and we will consider our options. However, this is only one case among more than 50 patents asserted against HTC and more than 20 against Viewsonic. HTC has already been found to infringe another Nokia patent and an injunction is already in effect in Germany as a result of that decision. HTC and Viewsonic need to end their unauthorized use of Nokia's proprietary innovations."

This patent isn't standard-essential. HTC and ViewSonic are licensed to Nokia's SEPs, but non-SEP issues between these parties have yet to be resolved. And HTC is proving to be a very tough target. The Taiwanese device maker is defending itself exceptionally well.

I'd just like to add that Judge Mueller's panel is a particularly difficult one to persuade of infringement claims. The dispute between Apple and HTC was settled before Judge Mueller ruled on a couple of Apple v. HTC cases, but based on his extremely narrow claim constructions, Apple wouldn't have won much against HTC in his court. He also denied preliminary injunctions against Samsung (requested by Apple) and Motorola Mobility (requested by Microsoft) -- preliminary injunctions based on patents are very hard to win in Germany.

Apparently recognizing that its first wave of German lawsuits has not given it decisive leverage over HTC, Nokia has stepped up the pressure through an additional U.S. federal lawsuit and a second ITC complaint. A preliminary ruling on Nokia's first ITC complaint against HTC is scheduled to come down in late September. Also, some more Nokia-HTC patent rulings will soon be announced in Mannheim, Germany (and it's not too likely that Nokia is going to win those cases). HTC's three German countersuits (including one by its S3 Graphics subsidiary) will also be adjudicated soon.

If you'd like to be updated on the smartphone patent disputes and other intellectual property matters I cover, please subscribe to my RSS feed (in the right-hand column) and/or follow me on Twitter @FOSSpatents and Google+.

Share with other professionals via LinkedIn: