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HTC suspends selling smartphones in UK due to IPCom patent row

Jasper Hart
August 6, 2019

Patent firm still negotiating with Xiaomi over infringement of same patent

HTC has pulled all phones for sale from its UK website due to a patent infringement claim from patent firm IPCom.

The Taiwanese vendor, which has lost much of its market share in the country, is also taking steps to suspend sales of its devices overall. Carphone Warehouse has some HTC devices listed in its device search results, but the individual product pages are no longer online. HTC phones are currently still available to buy in the UK from Amazon.

However, HTC’s 5G Hub is still available to buy from EE, and its VR headsets are also still available.

According to IPCom, HTC’s decision comes in the wake of its having been found guilty by the UK High Court of infringing upon IPCom’s Patent 100A in 2015, which relates to how mobile phones connect to their networks.

A workaround was approved on the condition that HTC only sold products in the UK with the workaround implemented.

However, following testing of HTC’s Desire 12 phone earlier this year, IPCom discovered the workaround had not been implemented.

“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,” said IPCom managing director Pio Suh. “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.”

An HTC spokewsoman said: “As a leading innovator, HTC takes intellectual property issues very seriously. We are proactively investigating an infringement claim by a third party with respect to a single handset model.”

IPCom is currently still negotiating with Xiaomi over its infringement of the same patent, having filed a complaint in the UK High Court against the Chinese vendor. Suh added that he was hopeful that the issue would not resolve in the same way as that of HTC.

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