Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nokia wins patent case against HTC in the UK over patent asserted in 5 countries on 3 continents

I've been saying for a long time that HTC will end up paying royalties to Nokia for a license to some of Nokia's non-standard-essential patents (it already has a SEP license). It's been defending itself vigorously and effectively so far, but its own assertions against Nokia are not going to give it leverage. It's only a matter of time before a tipping point is reached, and Nokia made major headway today in the most difficult court in the world for plaintiffs, the England and Wales High Court.

Justice Arnold ruled today that Nokia's EP0998024 on a "modular structure for a transmitter and a mobile station", a pretty powerful mobile phone hardware patent, is valid (HTC tried to shoot it down in the UK in hopes of influencing decisions in other jurisdictions) and infringed by various HTC products including its current flagship, the HTC One, which incorporate certain Qualcomm and Broadcom chips. Nokia is suing HTC over this patent not only in the UK, where it can seek an injunction now after today's win on liability, but also in Germany, where the Düsseldorf Regional Court will hold a trial soon, Italy, and Japan. I didn't even know Nokia was also suing HTC in Japan -- so far I was aware of litigation in the US, UK, Germany, and Italy. Today Nokia also mentioned yet another jurisdiction in which it's suing HTC -- the Netherlands (it's not asserting today's winning patent there, at least not yet). All of this means a lot of pressure, and I say it again, HTC will inevitably end up paying. As will Samsung, with which Nokia has been negotiating for some time and which it may have to sue at some point.

This is the public ruling (this post continues below the document):

13-10-30 HTC v Nokia Public UK Judgment EP0998024 by Florian Mueller

Here's the summary of the ruling (click on the image to enlarge or read the text below the image):

"189. For the reasons given above, I conclude that:

i) claim 1 of the Patent is novel over Ikatura;

ii) claim 1 is not obvious over either Ikatura or Tan;

iii) each of the representatives HTC devices falls within claim 1;

iv) HTC has not established its defence of licence."

These are the representative devices and the corresponding chips accused in the UK action:

One SV (non-LTE)Qualcomm WTR1605
One, One SV (LTE)Qualcomm WTR1605L
Wildfire SBroadcom BCM4329
One SV (LTE), One SV (non-LTE)Broadcom BCM4334

Nokia issued the following statement:

"Nokia is pleased that the UK High Court has today confirmed the validity of Nokia's patent EP 0 998 024 and ruled that a number of HTC products, including the HTC One, infringe this patent.

Today's judgment is a significant development in our dispute with HTC. Nokia will now seek an injunction against the import and sale of infringing HTC products in the UK as well as financial compensation. Local counterparts of this patent are already in suit against HTC in Germany, Italy, Japan and the US.

This is the third court this year to find that HTC infringes Nokia patents, bringing the number of patents found infringed to four. In September, the US International Trade Commission gave an initial determination of infringement of two Nokia patents and, in March, the Mannheim court ordered HTC to cease infringing a Nokia power saving patent.

Nokia began its actions against HTC in 2012, with the aim of ending HTC's unauthorised use of Nokia's proprietary innovations. Nokia has now asserted more than 50 patents against HTC in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, UK and US."

The ITC ruling is preliminary. HTC has petitioned for a Commission review of the initial determination, and it's working together with Qualcomm to modify its products so as to avoid a possible ban.

Next week Nokia may very well win a second German injunction against HTC. I will attend the announcement of that ruling.

Yesterday the Mannheim Regional Court held a trial on a Nokia v. HTC lawsuit over RFID. I did not attend that one, but will try to find out about the ruling when it comes down. I recently also missed a couple of Munich Nokia v. HTC trials (during my week off), but won't miss the rulings.

Many of Nokia's patent assertions against HTC involve Google's Android mobile operating system. A Nokia-HTC license agreement will relate to Android's use of various Nokia patents as well. 22 royalty-bearing patent license deals relating to Android are already known, and a Nokia-HTC settlement will be added to that list sooner or later.

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