TAIWANESE PHONE MAKER HTC has pulled its smartphones from sale in the UK, but not for the reason you might expect.
No, the company hasn't finally decided to throw in the towel despite flogging just 0.25 million smartphones in the last quarter of 2018. Rather, it's embroiled in an intellectual property row with patent licensing company IPCom, forcing it to yank its devices from shelves in Blighty.
The move follows a 2015 ruling by the UK High Court which found that HTC infringed on a standard-essential patent owned by IPCom which "governs how a handset connects to a network, prioritises emergency calls, and adheres to internationally recognised telecoms standards."
At the time, HTC pledged to only introduce products to the UK market which were designed in accordance with an approved workaround, but testing carried out by IPCom last year on a Desire 12 handset found that this workaround had not been implemented.
"We were disappointed to learn that, after failing to take out a FRAND [fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory] licence for the patent and stalling negotiations for over a decade, HTC displayed further disregard for the law by contravening a UK Court ruling," remarked Pio Suh, MD, IPCom.
"The technology industry is dependent upon the fair, transparent and legal use of IP, and the recent development with HTC highlights the impact on those businesses which don't play by the rules."
As a result of IPCom's findings, HTC has stopped selling all of its phones in the UK on its website, with the likes of the HTC U12, U11 and Exodus 1 blockchain phone now displayed as out of stock. Carphone Warehouse, EE and O2 have also stopped selling the company's phones.
"As a leading innovator, HTC takes intellectual property issues very seriously," an HTC spokeswoman told the BBC. "We are proactively investigating an infringement claim by a third party with respect to a single handset model."
IPCom is now going after Chinese phone maker Xiaomi after its flagship Mi Mix 3 was found to be utilising the same patent. The R&D outfit has filed a complaint in the UK High Court against Xiaomi, seeking relief against the Chinese giant unless it enters into a reasonable licence agreement. µ
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