Shares of the Taiwanese Android phone maker HTC fell 6.5 percent this morning following the ruling by the International Trade Commission (ITC) that the company violated two patents held by Apple. The company’s shares have been pretty much free-falling throughout last week. The agency’s commissioners still have to support the ruling, but investors are already panicking over fears that the ruling will favor the California-based gadget maker. This, in turn, would open doors to ITC’s ban on imports of HTC’s phones into the United States. In response to the crisis, HTC announced a share buy back program worth up to $760 million in an attempt to stabilize its share price and restore investor confidence, reports Financial Times:
The attempt to prop up HTC’s share price appeared to have little effect as the stock fell below HTC’s minimum purchase price of T$900 to close down 3.9 per cent at T$871. The sell-off highlights investor fears that the legal battle could have wider implications for the competitive balance between Apple and Google Android-based phonemakers like HTC, Samsung and Motorola.
HTC is thought to have recently acquired S3 Graphics for $300 million in a bid to secure a stronger ground in its legal dealings with Apple, which filed its patent infringement complaint against the Taiwanese company back in March 2010. Apple accused HTC of violating up to twenty patents related to the iPhone’s hardware, software and its user interface. ITC recently ruled in favor of S3 Graphics, deciding the iPhone maker infringed on two patents held by S3 Graphics. They also acquired a portfolio of 82 patents from US-based ADC Communications for $75 million and signed an Android protection pact with Microsoft. HTC is expected to use all of this in the hope of relieving some of the pressure from Apple’s legal sharks. If ITC decides to ban import of HTC phones into the US and the company does not reach a timely settlement with Apple, its stock price could free-fall further.
Cross-posted on 9to5Mac.com