HTC did not infringe Apple patents, judge rules


Visitors try out HTC Corp. mobile handset devices near an HTC Sensation XL, in foreground, at an HTC store in Taipei, Taiwan, on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011. (Ashley Pon/BLOOMBERG)

A British judge ruled Wednesday that smartphone manufacturer HTC has not infringed on patents held by Apple, and found that three of the four patents Apple tried to assert against the company were not valid.

The judge said that Apple’s patent for electronic photo management was a valid claim but that HTC’s smartphones did not cross the line in implementing similar technology.

Three European patents, including one for “slide-to-unlock,” were deemed by the judge to be too obvious to warrant protection, FOSS Patents reported — something blogger Florian Mueller said is typical of British courts.

“According to statistics, only about 15% of all patent infringement claims brought in the UK result in a finding of a violation,” Mueller wrote.

He added that he doesn’t believe the British ruling will have much bearing on cases in the U.S., though it could have “some relevance” in the rest of Europe and Australia.

A German court had previously granted Apple an injunction against Motorola Mobility, saying that the company had infringed on the slide-to-unlock and photo management patents. Motorola has managed to work around those rulings.

HTC said in a statement that it is “pleased with the ruling, which provides further confirmation that Apple’s claims against HTC are without merit.  We remain disappointed that Apple continues to favor competition in the courtroom over competition in the marketplace.”

Apple recently won two judgments against Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus smartphone and Galaxy Tab 10.1, but lost a separate case with the International Trade Commission in which it asked for an emergency ban on HTC phones.

Related stories:

Apple, Samsung, HTC patent cases slog on

Apple wins injunction against Samsung Galaxy Tab

Apple and Proview settle over iPad name

Bloomberg: Samsung barred from U.S. sales of Nexus phone after Apple lawsuit

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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