Taiwanese handset maker HTC, the fourth largest smartphone maker in the world, has found itself on the receiving end of a legal battle with German patent firm IPCom, which won an injunction against HTC almost three years ago. HTC at first appealed the 2009 ruling and then withdrew the appeal last month, making the original decision enforceable.
IPCom is now asking the Mannheim court in Germany to fine the handset maker for not complying with the 2009 sales injunction involving HTC phones using UMTS technology (meaning every handset they make). They asked HTC to stop sales a week ago and took them to court yesterday because the phone maker failed to comply.
According to Reuters, “HTC says the injunction covers only one HTC handset which is no longer sold in Germany”. The fines could be measured in millions of euros as HTC sells an IDC-estimated two million smartphones per year in Germany, or one in twenty handsets they ship globally. Additionally, IPCom is also threatening to sue retailers that continue selling HTC phones. The patent firm has licensed its intellectual property to several phone makers and is also fighting Nokia over the patents IPCom acquired from Bosch.
HTC has certainly seen better days. Their newest legal woes with IPCom arrived just as the United States International Trade Commission postponed the hearing in the Apple vs. HTC case until December 14, indicating the body is close to a decision on a possible import ban of HTC phones in the United States. Earlier today, HTC announced the unaudited consolidated revenues for November 2011 that showed a 30 percent growth decline amid the iPhone 4S launch. HTC management blamed the worrying sales decline on global macroeconomic downturn and strong competition in the marketplace.
Apple’s new iPhone hit the market in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Japan on October 14, selling four million units during the launch weekend – more than double the iPhone 4 launch. It should be noted that the iPhone 4S is the first iPhone to launch simultaneously on three carriers in the United States. The iPhone is available for the first time on the Sprint network, which together with Verizon certainly helped boost sales numbers stemming from an expanded distribution footprint.