Bloomberg News

Apple Must Tell HTC Today What Handset Features Infringe Patents

December 06, 2011

Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc., embroiled in global patent litigation to protect sales of its iPhone, was told by a U.K. judge to disclose to HTC Corp. which features of its competing mobile phones may infringe Apple’s European patents.

Judge Richard Arnold in London told Apple yesterday that it had until today to describe which aspects of HTC’s handsets allegedly violate the company’s “swipe-to-unlock” function and other features covered by Apple’s four patents in the case.

HTC’s earlier attempts to get clarification from Apple received vague responses, forcing the company “to go to court to get the clarity” imposed by the ruling, HTC’s lawyer, James Abrahams, said at yesterday’s hearing. HTC will argue that Apple’s patents are invalid at a trial scheduled for April.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, is involved in a global battle with Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC over both smartphones and tablet computers. Apple sued HTC for patent infringement in Germany in July, triggering a countersuit by HTC in London. Apple also sued in the U.K., naming HTC and Samsung in a complaint filed in September.

If HTC wins the London case and invalidates Apple’s patents, it could use the U.K. judgment to help prove during the German trial that it isn’t infringing Apple’s European patents. Under German legal precedent, German judges give weight to British judgments on a patent’s validity when considering whether the patent has been infringed.

Apple was prepared to hand over the additional information and didn’t respond fully to HTC’s initial questions because they weren’t clear enough, the company’s lawyer, Guy Burkill, said at the hearing.

The case is: HTC Europe Co. Ltd. v. Apple Inc., High Court of Justice, London, HC11C02703

--With assistance from Christopher Scinta in London. Editors: Christopher Scinta, Heather Smith

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net


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