The German courts have proven to be some of the most heated in the current rash of mobile patent suits, and here is one more case to cement that reputation even further: the patent-holding company IPCom says that it plans to execute an existing injunction on HTC to prohibit the company from selling devices as soon as it can — although HTC has already issued a statement dismissing the threat.
German patent owner IPCom says that its decided to enforce an injunction on HTC devices, which include both smartphones and tablets, running on both the Android OS and Windows Phone. The injunction order dates back from 2009 and IPCom today said it wanted it put into effect “in the shorted possible time”, according to a statement from the company (via Reuters). At the time IPCom had won the injunction but then the case went into appeals. HTC, however, withdrew its appeal this week, ahead of a decision next week.
HTC has given us a statement, however, explaining and dismissing these claims:
“On Friday, HTC withdrew its appeal in the German IPCom EP1186189 case. HTC considers that the appeal had become redundant as the German Federal Patents Court had previously held the relevant claim of the patent to be invalid.”
Effectively, reading between the lines of that statement, HTC has withdrawn its appeal because there is no longer of the injunction getting enforced. Or that is their belief, at least.
This is just one of the many cases that IPCom has brought against smartphone vendors in the last several years.
IPCom also filed a similar case against HTC in the UK in June, and had also filed a similar case against Nokia (NYSE: NOK) years before. IPCom had won that hearing as well — although Nokia then ultimately got the decision in its favor in a court of appeals.
This is a crucial time of year to have devices on sale, so it’s likely that HTC would not be taking the risk of dropping its appeal if it had not had good reason to think it would be successful in getting the injunction thrown out. Next week should reveal the outcome more definitively.
The news comes in the same weeks that HTC has seen a setback in a patent case in the U.S. between Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and S3 Graphics, a company it had been hoping to acquire for its patent portfolio, although now it is re-evaluating that buy. The company this week also issued a statement revising down its earnings forecasts for the next quarter to be flat. The two events have given the company’s stock a knock, even though the company is currently the leading smartphone maker in some of the biggest markets in the world such as the U.S. and the UK.