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IPCom surprised at HTC’s handset withdrawal

Jasper Hart
August 21, 2019

HTC has suspended smartphone sales in the UK due to a patent dispute

IPCom has expressed surprise at HTC’s decision to withdraw its handsets from sale in the UK.

Speaking to Mobile News, the patent licensing firm’s managing director Pio Suh said he had not previously seen such a decision by a manufacturer.

Sales suspension

The Taiwanese vendor suspended sales on its UK website of all smartphones and announced its intention to suspend sales in the country through all channels on August 6, as a result of a patent dispute with Munich-based IPCom.

IPCom alleges that HTC continued to infringe on IPCom’s Patent 100A, which governs how a handset connects to a network and prioritises emergency calls, after a UK court ruled in 2017 that HTC had to implement a workaround in its devices.

“The withdrawal of any devices from a national market such as the UK is a harsh step,” said Suh. “I have not heard of any case of an alleged infringement that has resulted in a manufacturer stopping any selling.”

IPCom offered HTC a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licence that would act as a package deal, preventing the vendor from infringing on any of IPCom’s patents in its LTE portfolio.

“Given the situation, I would say HTC is afraid to risk further infringement and that is why they have taken such a harsh step,” Suh added. He said that the “ideal outcome” for both parties was for HTC to buy this licence.

Suh added that IPCom was in ongoing negotiations with Xiaomi over its infringement of the same patent (see Mobile News 683), and was hopeful that Xiaomi would settle before the High Court made its decision.

“The validity of the patent has been confirmed before. I think Xiaomi knows this and that’s why we are in continuous negotiations. I’m hopeful that we
are able to conclude the settlement agreement before a decision needs to be made by the UK High Court,” he said.

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