The patent troll wars between the major manufacturers have taken another turn. Last week HTC had received a breather from an Appeals Court in the UK, when the court had granted HTC a stay on the injunction which banned it from selling the HTC One Mini in the UK. Earlier it had been found that the HTC One and the HTC One Mini had infringed on a patent that belonged to Nokia. The patent infringement had pertained to a part which was used in the manufacture of both the devices. The infringed patent in question is the European patent EP 0 998 024 which covers “a modular structure for a transmitter and a mobile station“, over which Nokia had previously sued Apple as well. However since then HTC has switched to a new microphone part to avoid further issues.
In an official press release, Nokia has commented on the stay of this injunction in favor of HTC. They have said in no unclear terms that they may have lost the battle, but they are in no mood to lose the war. Nokia states that “[t]he same patent comes to trial in Dusseldorf, Germany next month and is also in suit in Paris, France; Rome, Italy[;] and its US counterpart is in Nokia’s second complaint against HTC at the US International Trade Commission.”
It must be noted that the UK Court of Appeals has stayed the injunction until a full appeal hearing scheduled for next year. Though the stay allows HTC to start selling the devices in its largest market in Europe, if the patent infringement is held to be valid by an appeals court, HTC could end up paying a lot more in damages to Nokia, based on the amount of sales it has generated for the infringing product.
In view of the impending sale of Nokia’s handsets and mobile division to Microsoft in 2014, it is important for Nokia to retain its patent portfolio which it will use to generate revenues. Nokia has said in the statement that “It is unfortunate that the stay means that HTC can continue to benefit from its unauthorized and uncompensated use of Nokia innovations. We look forward to the Court of Appeals confirming that the patent is valid and infringed, lifting the stay on the injunction and awarding Nokia financial compensation for HTC’s infringement.”
Nokia and HTC have been at these patent battles since 2012 and Nokia has already won rulings in its favor in the UK, US and Germany. Do you believe that these wars actually dampen innovation or patent holders have the right to sue offenders left, right and center? Do shout it out in the comments below.