Apple And HTC Reach A Global Settlement
November 12, 2012

Agreement Reached Between Apple And HTC

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Apple yesterday announced a move towards patent peace with Taiwanese handset maker HTC. In a brief press release, the iPhone maker acknowledged the 2 companies had reached a global settlement as well as a 10-year licensing agreement.

Apple has said these licenses will cover current and future products for both companies, but said the rest of the details for this settlement are confidential. Apple and HTC, much like Apple and Samsung, have been battling all over the world over the use and misuse of one another´s patents.

Last December, the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that some of HTC´s phones had violated an Apple patent from 1996 pertaining to the way data, like phone numbers, were turned into actionable items in emails and text messages. The ITC placed a ban on these violating devices, (the HTC One X and EVO 4G) delaying the release of the One X by a few weeks.

Apple has seen more success against HTC, the fifth largest smartphone maker, than they have against Samsung, a larger and more formidable foe in the courtroom. And while they´ve come out on top more often than not against HTC, they´ve also lost a few battles. A London judge ruled in July that HTC was not guilty of infringement in their use of the “slide-to-unlock´ feature.

Judge Floyd also ruled that HTC phones did not violate 4 other Apple patents, saying another 3 patents Apple accused HTC of violating weren´t valid.

Both CEOs have said they are pleased to have reached this agreement with one another.

“HTC is pleased to have resolved its dispute with Apple, so HTC can focus on innovation instead of litigation,” said HTC´s CEO Peter Chou in the joint press release.

“We are glad to have reached a settlement with HTC,” remarked Apple CEO Tim Cook.

“We will continue to stay laser focused on product innovation.”

This announcement is likely to please not only those who feel that this kind of litigation hinders innovation, but also those companies who fear being stamped out by a much larger company. With their tough, legal past behind them and a licensed future ahead, many begin to wonder what kind of arrangements have been made in their ten-year deal.

According to Florian Mueller at the Foss Patents blog, it´s important to remember the licensing deal Apple has given Nokia.

“Apple told the court that only one out of the three multitouch patents it asserted against Samsung at the summer trial was licensed to Nokia,” writes Mueller.

“Considering that Nokia has a far stronger patent portfolio than HTC, it's hard to imagine that HTC would get a sweeter, more comprehensive deal unless it offered Apple an unusually high royalty.”

Mueller also points out that while this deal is good for companies everywhere, Apple likely gave up some leverage when it comes to requesting injunctions in the future. Should Apple try to ban other devices in the future, HTC or otherwise, companies could simply point to this agreement. As for Samsung, the company Apple defeated in this summer´s widely covered legal drama, this news comes too late for them to use in their December 6th hearing with Judge Koh.