Will Apple Negotiate with HTC on Patent Disputes?

News Source:
Web Editor: Xu
2011-07-29 15:24:17   

Smartphone manufacturer HTC has pledged that it wants to resolve its dispute with Apple through negotiations.

Recently, the two smartphone makers have not only been waging war in the marketplace, but also in the courts, with both companies filing patent infringement suits against one another. The most recent victory came for Apple, which won a ruling from an International Trade Commission (ITC) court which upheld the claim that HTC was in violation of two of the company's patents.

According to Mike Bastin, marketing and management academic at Tsinghua University, the patent dispute could have very serious consequences, with the possibility that HTC products could be barred from being sold in the US market.
"Unfortunately for HTC, this could be quite serious. If this decision is upheld and it may well be, they could actually be barred from selling their phones in the US; which accounts for 50 per cent of their sales. So this is a serious issue now. What will happen over the next coming weeks and months, who knows, but it may well be that HTC seeks to settle out of court", said Mike Bastin.

A preliminary ruling by the US International Trade Commission concluded that HTC's Android smartphones infringe on two patents owned by Apple Inc. Android, jointly developed by Google and other members of the Open Handset Alliance, currently hold the lead in terms of market share in the United States, with Apple firmly occupying the number two spot. The Tsinghua University expert predicts that the legal battles were set to continue. 

"So there are a suite of suits against the Android system. I think what Google will argue is that they're new and young, which puts them at a disadvantage as they don't have a history of legal battles in this area, they don't have a portfolio of patents, so that's one issue here. Apple is obviously unhappy that this (Android) has become very, very successful very, very quickly. So I think the legal battles will continue."

Prior to this case, the ITC ruled that Apple had violated two patents registered by S3 Graphics, a company that HTC later acquired. This is the smoking gun that HTC is likely to use in order to defend itself, some analysts have predicted.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, an internationally published technology author, composed an analysis published on his personal blog, Hardware 2.0, saying that HTC isn't defenseless after all. "If HTC didn't have any patents to fight Apple with, it's likely that Apple wouldn't choose to settle. But given that HTC has something that Apple wants (at least it'll be HTC's when its buyout of S3 is complete) then a settlement seems far more likely."

Patent disputes are currently widespread in the mobile handset market, with Apple leading the wave of disputes, while other smartphone manufacturers, including HTC, Samsung, Motorola and Nokia, follow suit.

Last year alone, Apple sued HTC over 20 separate cases of patent infringement, all of which dealt with various elements of the iPhone.