U.S. judge: HTC patents likely valid in Apple suit; U.S. ban of iPhone and iPad devices possible

“Apple Inc. may face a difficult task invalidating two HTC Corp. patents for data transmission in wireless devices, a U.S. trade judge said at a trial that could lead to import bans on the newest iPad and next version of the iPhone,” Susan Decker reports for Bloomberg. “‘Clear and convincing means something to me,’ U.S. International Trade Commission Judge Thomas Pender said yesterday in Washington, referring to the legal standard in determining that a patent shouldn’t have been issued. ‘I have to be pretty darn certain a U.S. patent is invalid.'”

“HTC accuses Apple of infringing two patents it owns for ways to reliably transmit a larger amount of data. Taoyuan, Taiwan-based HTC said the patented methods are critical to the 4G technology known as LTE, or long-term evolution, that allow faster downloads,” Decker reports. “A victory could let HTC seek an import ban of the latest iPad and even the newest iPhone, if it uses LTE when it’s unveiled as early as next week. That could give the Taiwanese handset maker leverage to force a settlement with Apple, which has made its own patent-infringement claims against HTC.”

Decker reports, “HTC acquired the patents at issue in April 2011, around the same time it began selling its first LTE phone, the Thunderbolt. The patents are part of a portfolio HTC bought for $75 million from ADC Telecommunications Inc. ‘I don’t care if they bought these patents to sue you or not,’ Pender told Apple lawyer Michael McKeon. ‘They are a property right.’ …Pender said yesterday he probably won’t side with Apple’s argument that HTC didn’t have proper ownership rights of the two former ADC patents.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We highly doubt that iPhones and iPads will be banned in the U.S. as a result of this case.

35 Comments

  1. FRAND anyone. If it’s a standard and they get the chips from Qualcomm, who licenses that standard, from various license holders, at which point does double dipping come into play?

    1. “the patented methods are critical to the 4G technology known as LTE”

      I agree with your assessment. Apple just successfully defended its iOS developers from the same kind of suit.

      The issue is going to be whether the technology is embedded in the chips Apple gets from Qualcom, or if its technology embedded in iOS that does not rely on Qualcom chips.

    1. idiot … the whole point about “standards essential” is that you cannot implement a standard without incorporating that patent, and those patents must be licensed under FRAND terms

      the whole point of a standard is for people to pool resources, including patents, so devices can work with each other. Suing via S.E. patents is just how losers defend their actual infringement.

    2. Legally, a patent is a patent. However, Apple didn’t “steal” or “copy” technology – the bought a chipset from Qualcomm.

      Samsung made visual replicas of Apple hardware and software. They went out of their way to copy Apple because of the commercial success of Apple. Apple bought a component from a supplier.

      With regard to “karma”, I infer that you mean Apple’s victory of Samsung for their shameless copying is somehow morally wrong. I disagree with that. The design of Apple’s products is part of their appeal.

      Note that from what I have read, the iPhone 5 will not use the same chipset as the iPad (Qualcomm MDM9600) because it does not have “voice capabilities”.

        1. Yep. Between this, people saying that AMZN will outperform AAPL, people saying the iPhone 5 will be a flop, etc, there was a nice buying opportunity today. Will be watching it in the morning.

  2. “Taiwan-based HTC said the patented methods are critical to the 4G technology known as LTE…”

    If this is true, why are they not covered under Qualcomm’s licenses to build the chips?

    If this is true, then why are they not covered under the SEP and FRAND rules?

    Apple claiming that HTC does not have legal standing to bring the suit was just legal maneuvering by lawyers. They almost always try that BS and very, very rarely succeed.

    Apple needs to stop this BS way of defending themselves and just say to the ITC: We’ll pay any SEP and FRAND rates that everyone else is paying for the exact same technology and exact same implementations. Then Apple needs to present the ITC with a check made out to HTC at the STANDARD rate.

    If the ITC won’t uphold SEP and FRAND then the whole system is even more broken than anyone has envisioned.

    1. The suppliers do deal with it. Qualcomm, for example, explicitly passes along the licensing for their standards-based chipsets.

      The question is, what if a particular patent holder objects?

      Samsung “ordered” Qualcomm to modify their agreements so as to provide licensing (of the Samsung standards-support patents) only to “non-Apple device manufacturers.” Qualcomm refused to do any such thing. Nonetheless, Samsung has in multiple cases sued Apple over violation of the patents and in some courts has won (likely temporary) recognition.

      Yes, it’s nuts.

      1. can you share the source?

        My understanding is that Qualcomm and Samsung signed an agreement not to go after their customers for infringement many years back. That agreement effectively ended last year when Apple filed multiple global lawsuits against Samsung. Is that what you are talking about?

  3. Sorry C/Net Apple haters, but if Apple buys a radio chip,
    from say Intel or any other manufacturer, Intel will have already paid the license fee to
    HTC for their part of the 4GLTE. HTC can not double dip!
    This is just a hit bait, to get all you C/Nuts excited!

    1. Not necessarily. That’s why in a recent Dutch case, the court found that Apple’s devices using Infineon chipset didn’t properly license Samsung’s patents (Qualcomm based iDevices were exempt from this ruling) and ruled in Samsung’s favor. With so many patents these days, I could imagine some patents falling through the cracks.

      Let’s not jump to conclusion yet. We don’t know whether Apple’s radio chip supplier, Qualcomm, is indeed a legitimate licensee of HTC’s LTE patents.

  4. This could be a big reason why the stock is down 2%. If these are SEPs, it’s ridiculous. Apple should really be more aggressive in purchasing patents, if only to keep them from the hands of others.

  5. Hey, put Lucy Koh on the case. It’ll be at least 3 years before a verdict is handed down, and then she’ll need another 6 months to make a decision. By that time we’ll be on to 5 or 6G!

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