Mobile device maker HTC’s ongoing legal dispute with Apple Inc. just took a turn that likely made some people at HTC very happy. Yesterday, U.S. International Trade Commission Judge Thomas Pender set a high bar for Apple to prove that two HTC patents at issue should be invalidated. Judge Pender stated that “Clear and convincing means something to me,” and went on to say, “I have to be pretty darn certain a U.S. patent is invalid.”
The two patents concern LTE technology that is integral to 4G internet on mobile devices, including Apple’s newest iPads and iPhones—meaning that a victory could allow HTC to seek an import ban against Apple’s most lucrative products. A U.S. import ban on Apple’s mobile devices would obviously be a monumental blow to Apple, which could give HTC some leverage to force a settlement in the infringement case Apple has brought against it. The case originally included five other patents, but that portion of the case was thrown out because Judge Pender decided that HTC did not have adequate ownership of the patents in question. Pender’s newest statements indicate that the two LTE patents are not likely to follow the same path.
Legal patent battles between various smartphone and other mobile device makers have exploded in the past few years as the smartphone market continues to grow by leaps and bounds and companies look for any way to get an edge over the competition. After Apple’s huge victory against Samsung in August, a verdict against Apple would come as welcome news to Apple’s many competitors, particularly those using Google’s Android operating system who have been heavily targeted by Apple’s legal team.
More on mobile patent litigation:
Smart Phone Litigation Continues: Google’s Motorola Mobility Takes Apple to Court
Apples to Apples? The Patent War with Samsung Continues
A Glimmer of Hope for Improving Mobile Patent Law