Wed, Dec 21, 2011 - Page 1 News List

HTC Corp says it is happy with ITC ruling in the US

By Jason Tan  /  Staff Reporter, with Bloomberg

HTC Corp (宏達電), the world’s No. 4 smartphone maker, yesterday hailed the US verdict on its patent lawsuit with archrival Apple Inc as a “win,” even though the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled it had infringed on one Apple patent.

“This decision is a win for HTC ... we are very pleased with the determination and we respect it,” HTC general counsel Grace Lei (雷憶瑜) said in a statement, adding that the company would soon remove the user interface that violated the Apple patent from all its smartphones.

On Monday, a six-member panel of the ITC partially upheld the preliminary findings of a patent complaint filed by Apple in March last year against HTC, finding that the Taiwanese firm had infringed one of four patents in Apple’s complaint.

The patent HTC was found to be violating — the “647” patent — deals with data detection that enables users to tap on a telephone number or address contained in an e-mail to immediately call the number or find the address on a map.

HTC said the “647 patent is a small user interface experience and HTC will completely remove it from all of its smartphones soon.”

HTC has until April 19 to come up with an alternative or face a ban on sales of handsets with the function in the US.

The list of affected products and a full reason for the commission’s decision, which is subject to appeal and a presidential review, was not immediately made public.

Apple’s original complaint named HTC’s Nexus One, Touch Pro, Diamond, Tilt II, Dream, myTouch, Hero and Droid Eris smartphones.

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, declined to discuss the possibility of a settlement.

She repeated the company’s position that “competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology.”

Boosted by the ruling, shares of HTC soared by the 7 percent daily limit to close at NT$476 on the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday.

“The verdict seems to have a limited impact on HTC in terms of dampening its market visibility in the US. Even if some of its smartphone models were banned, it could still sell other models given it has a variety of smartphones to offer,” Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center (產業經濟與趨勢研究中心) research manager Andrew Wang (王英裕) said.

While the Apple versus HTC saga can take a breather for now, the industry is still closely monitoring the pending lawsuits that Apple has against the Google Inc camp that includes Samsung Electronics Co and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.

International Data Corp senior analyst Joey Yen (嚴蘭欣) told the Central News Agency that developing a self-owned operating system, such as Samsung Electronics’ Bada, could partly ease Android makers’ pressure from Apple, but this might create uncertainties for HTC.

“Self-owned operating systems allow room for imagination, but are dependent on a company’s strength,” Yen said. “HTC may not have enough manpower or capital to develop one since it has put a lot of resources into the Android and Windows platforms.”

Meanwhile, Apple, which on Dec. 9 lost a bid to keep Samsung’s Galaxy 10.1 tablet out of Australia, claims the case for the device and cases for Samsung smartphones infringe its patents and registered designs.

Apple issued a notice of infringement to Samsung in Australia over the cases, and it will file a statement of claim, Apple lawyer Stephen Burley said at a hearing in Sydney yesterday.

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