HTC suspends smartphone sales in the UK due to alleged patent infringement
Munich, Germany, 6TH August 2019 – IPCom, an IP management and patent licensing company, has announced that, as a result of its claim of infringement of an IPCom-owned patent, smartphone manufacturer, HTC, has indicated that it will suspend the sale and importation of the recently launched Desire 12 handset to the UK market. Furthermore, HTC has signalled that it is taking steps to suspend sales of all its mobile devices in the UK. IPCom is currently in discussion with Chinese electronics company Xiaomi regarding its use of the same patent.
The move follows a 2012 ruling by the UK High Court that found HTC to have infringed upon IPCom’s Patent 100A, a standard essential patent (SEP), which governs how a handset connects to a network, prioritises emergency calls, and adheres to internationally recognised telecoms standards. A workaround was approved by the Court, with HTC indicating that it would only introduce products to the UK market which were designed in accordance with the approved workaround.
Following testing of the Desire 12 in an R&D lab in Germany earlier this year, IPCom found the workaround had not been implemented, and since no licence had been obtained, IPCom asserted that HTC was still infringing the patent.
“We were disappointed to learn that, after failing to take out a FRAND [fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory] licence for the patent and stalling negotiations for over a decade, HTC displayed further disregard for the law by contravening a UK Court ruling,” commented Pio Suh, MD, IPCom. “The technology industry is dependent upon the fair, transparent and legal use of IP, and the recent development with HTC highlights the impact on those businesses which don’t play by the rules.”
IPCom is also in ongoing negotiations with Xiaomi, after having offered it a licence on FRAND terms, for its use of Patent 100A, part of IPCom’s global patent portfolio, in its handsets. Xiaomi recently launched its flagship Mi Mix 3 mobile handset to the UK, which has also been found by IPCom to utilise the patent, and which is currently on sale in a number of retail outlets. As a result, IPCom has filed a complaint in the UK High Court against Xiaomi, seeking relief against the Chinese giant unless it enters into a reasonable licence agreement.
“Xiaomi is a newcomer to a pretty crowded mobile market in the UK – and first impressions count,” continued Suh. “Launching in a new region means adhering to the laws of that region, and engaging with other players in an open, cooperative manner. A failure to do so – and a failure to obtain the necessary patent licences beforehand – is a risky move by Xiaomi, and one that also puts retailers selling its products in the firing line. We’re in conversation with the team at Xiaomi and hope to conclude the matter and avoid it going the way of HTC.”
IPCom GmbH & Co. KG is an intellectual property (IP) rights licensing and technology R&D company, which supports companies with asserting patent rights and concluding patent licence agreements on FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) terms. IPCom holds over 200 patent families in the field of mobile communications, with more than 1,000 patents registered in Europe, the US and Asia, most of which have been granted. Committed to the principles of FRAND, fair play and competitive advantage, IPCom also offers consulting services to companies in the telecoms space, with the aim of levelling the playing field and ensuring those behind the development of standard essential patents (SEPs) are fairly rewarded for their technologies and work.
IPCom is headquartered in Pullach, Munich, Germany, and operates on a global basis.