PATENT HOLDER Ipcom has ordered HTC to stop selling all of its 3G devices in Germany today after the Taiwanese phone maker withdrew its proposed appeal against the ban.
Ipcom contacted HTC to remind it of a February 2009 ruling by the District Court of Mannheim regarding a patent relating to 3G technology, which puts a wide range of HTC devices at risk in the country.
Ipcom threatened further legal action if HTC does not comply, including the German law called Zwangsgeldverfahren, a penalty system that allows a series of fines to be charged until the infringer agrees to comply with the court order.
The demand comes on the day when a decision on HTC's appeal would have been made by the Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe, but HTC pulled the plug on its appeal at the last minute on Friday, ensuring that it joins fellow Android supporter Samsung on a growing blacklist of mobile products in Germany.
HTC declined to respond to The INQUIRER's questions regarding that decision, but it appears likely that it believed it was certain to lose the appeal and decided to pursue a different strategy instead.
"HTC's claim that it is 'business as usual' in Germany is utterly misleading," said Bernhard Frohwitter, managing director of Ipcom. "Fact is: the patent in question [patent #100; EP 1 186 189] is valid, and the Mannheim ruling of February 2009 covers all HTC 3G devices, since the patent covers a mandatory 3G standard, valid for all devices and networks."
Ipcom also said that HTC cannot evade the injunction through the use of "unspecified work-arounds", which hints that HTC might follow Samsung's approach to its Galaxy Tab ban by altering its products so that they no longer infringe the patents in question.
If HTC is unable to find a way around this injunction it might be forced to sign an expensive licensing deal with Ipcom or face having a number of its phones taken off the shelves in German shops, which could lead to a major dent in its European profits.
HTC has issued a statement, saying "On Friday, HTC withdrew its appeal in the German IPCom EP1186189 case. HTC considers that the appeal had become redundant as the German Federal Patents Court had previously held the relevant claim of the patent to be invalid."
It looks like HTC is far from giving in and will likely continue to sell its 3G products in Germany regardless of what Ipcom demands. This battle looks set to go on for some time to come. µ
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