Nokia beats HTC in ITC patent battle


Nokia beats HTC in ITC patent battle

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Smart-phone maker HTC has infringed patents belonging to rival Nokia, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) has ruled. 

The ITC said the Taiwanese company had infringed two out of the three patents Nokia had asserted.

The patents, US Patent No. 7,415,247 and No. 6,393,260, relate to signals sent or received by tablets and mobile phones.

In an initial complaint, first filed last year, Nokia asked the ITC to ban the importation of certain HTC products into the US, including the HTC Amaze 4G, and Radar 4G.

“The administrative law judge hereby determines that a violation of Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 has been found in the importation into the US, the sale for importation, or the sale within the US … in connection with the claims of US patent Nos. ‘247 and ‘260,” the ITC wrote in a preliminary judgement on September 23. 

However, there was a small victory for HTC, as the ITC ruled that it did not infringe a third patent, US Patent No 5,884,190, which covers the way data is transmitted from a computer to a phone.

A spokesman for Finland-based Nokia, which will sell its mobile phone business to Microsoft in early 2014, told WIPR it was “pleased” that the initial determination confirmed infringement.

“Local counterparts of one of these are also already in litigation against HTC in London, UK; Dusseldorf, Germany and Rome, Italy. We will reserve further comment until we have had the chance to study the judgment in detail,” he added.   

A final ruling is scheduled for January next year.

Rory Radding, partner at Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, in New York, said he expected the ITC’s initial ruling would be upheld.

“It seems Nokia’s patents are being upheld around the world and its licence to Microsoft is testament to the recognition of its patent portfolio,” Radding told WIPR.

Predicting the ITC would issue a limited exclusion order on the infringing products, Radding, who is also chair of the firm’s ITC practice group, added, “I would suspect Nokia might challenge the third patent which it deemed HTC did not infringe but it [a limited exclusion order] seems the most likely outcome.”  

Despite being found to infringe two patents, a spokesman for HTC said it was pleased to have a "partial victory."

He added, "we look forward to a dinal determination by the commission in favor of HTC on this matter.  In the meantime, HTC will keep its alternative plans ready to ensure no business disruption.”

Following an ITC ruling, US President Barack Obama, has two months during which he can veto a decision.

Last month, a ruling which recommended a ban on some Apple products marked the first time in more than 20 years a president had vetoed a decision.

But Radding said a similar decision would be unlikely.

“The previous case was for standard essential patents but I believe the patents in question here are non-essential so I don’t think there would be grounds for a veto.”  

Patent, ITC, exclusion order, Nokia, HTC, Obama, Microsoft