In one swift move, HTC may have just diffused what could have become yet another legal bomb: the handset maker yesterday entered into a long-term licensing agreement and strategic alliance with Intellectual Ventures, an IP patent house run by Microsoft’s former CTO, Nathan Myhrvold, and chief architect, Edward Jung. The deal gives HTC access to over 30,000 patents.
The agreement gives HTC the IP it needs to “defend itself and its subsidiaries from potential litigation,” says the joint press release. A value for the deal was not disclosed.
Over the last year, HTC’s biggest adversary in the IP wars has been Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), with both filing suits related to infringements on devices, architecture and hardware patents. But it is also facing litigation claims from Gemalto – the Sim and mobile security company that is reportedly working with Apple on a “soft Sim” product – and a patent holder called NTP. In both of these HTC is named with other handset makers.
This is Intellectual Ventures’ second patent agreement with a handset maker in as many weeks: it also struck a similar deal with Samsung on November 18.
It’s not clear what IP, exactly, Intellectual Ventures holds that relates to current HTC and Samsung products. It may well be, though, that some of that IP could end up helping the two companies develop products that further differentiate themselves from those of competitors, and therefore keep it away from further patent disagreements with the likes of Apple.
The news comes in a week in which another patent fight got escalated: on Monday, Motorola (NYSE: MOT) filed a complaint with the ITC against Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) over IP that is used in its Xbox games console.