Sign up for a free trial to IAM magazine including full archive access by clicking on the button below
You need to have cookies enabled in your browser to permanently hide this pop up.
Nokia has won the latest round in its on-going patent war with HTC. The High Court in London last week found that HTC had infringed on an EPO-granted patent owned by the Finnish company entitled modulator structure for a transmitter and a mobile station. The court decision could stop the Taiwan-based handset maker from selling its flagship smartphones in the UK because Nokia is now seeking to an injunction against the import and sale of HTC products, as well as financial compensation.
Nokia’s UK success follows a September ruling by the US International Trade Commission, previously reported by IAM, which found that HTC had infringed on two more of its patents in making its smartphones and tablets. In March, a German court ordered HTC to cease infringing another patent for power-saving technology. On a worldwide basis Nokia is asserting approximately 50 different patents against HTC, including actions relating to the patent in the UK case in Germany, Italy, Japan and the US.
The Taiwanese company has said it is "disappointed" by last week’s outcome and will appeal the High Court’s decision, which affects various handsets including the HTC One, its premium phone, as well as the HTC Wildfire. However, maybe it’s time for the Taiwanese company to add a royalty-bearing non-SEP licence to the SEP licence it already has from Nokia instead, so finally bring an end to this particular patent war.
HTC has lost more than 90% of its market value since 2011 and in the past year has seen the exit of senior executives, allegations of leaking trade secrets, and its first quarterly loss since its initial public offering in 2002. While it has tried to bolster its IP portfolio, deals with Microsoft, Intellectual Ventures and Apple have done little to turn around the company’s fortunes. The defeat to Nokia in the High Court will cause further disruption to its business. An alternative “if you can’t beat them then join them” approach would allow HTC to continue selling its products in the UK and remove the risk of litigation in other jurisdictions.
Nokia already counts Apple, Microsoft and BlackBerry among its licensees and is also seeking licences for its patents from Samsung and other Android handset makers. Adding HTC to the mix would be another big name scalp for the Finnish company, providing it with revenue from much of the Android operating eco-system. The decision by the company’s board to maintain its patent portfolio while selling its handset business to Microsoft has been labelled a “masterstroke” by analysts at Berenberg. But whether masterstroke or totally obvious, the future looks bright for Nokia.
Having invested $62 billion in mobile R&D over the last two decades Nokia will be making more aggressive use of its portfolio of 30,000 patents in the future. In April, the company’s CFO Timo Ihamuotila stated that it would generate $653 million from patent licensing in 2013. Add to that the first year of the 10-year Microsoft deal and Nokia actually stands to make approximately $900 million. And as IAM has previously suggested that could rise to $1 billion if (perhaps “when” is a more appropriate word) HTC decides to throw in the towel.
Licensing, IP litigation, Patents