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HTC scores patent victory over Nokia in Germany

The maker of Android phones is cleared by a German judge of infringing Nokia patents in two separate cases.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

HTC and Android have both emerged as victors in a patent squabble with Nokia in Germany.

The District Court of Mannheim ruled today that HTC did not violate two Nokia patents in question, according to the IDG News Service.

The two cases stem from last May, when Nokia filed lawsuits against HTC, BlackBerry, and Viewsonic, citing 45 different patent violations among the three sued companies. HTC has been seeking licensing fees from the three companies for using the technologies described in the patents.

Nokia had accused HTC of infringing on its EP0812120 patent, which details a "method for using services offered by a telecommunication network, a telecommunication system, and a terminal for it."

Specifically, Nokia had claimed that HTC's distribution of the Google Play app and its content-store client app violated the patent, Foss Patents' Florian Mueller said in a blog today. As such, Google had a vested interest in the final ruling and so had joined the case as a third-party intervener. Nokia had asserted that its patent referred to certain functionality in a mobile app store, such as Google Play, an argument the judges apparently didn't buy.

HTC declared the ruling a win for itself and for Android, per the following statement sent to CNET by a company representative:

HTC respects the intellectual-property rights of others but believes that Nokia has exaggerated the scope of its patent in order to extract unwarranted licensing royalties from Android handset manufacturers. We are gratified that the court apparently shares HTC's view and that, given the positive ruling of noninfringement today, the Android platform is now safe from oppressive enforcement of this patent. HTC also believes that the '120 patent is invalid, and will continue with invalidity actions pending before the English Patents Court and German Federal Patents Court. We fully expect the patent to be revoked before any Nokia appeal proceedings take place.

The other suit Nokia lost today involves patent EP1312974, which describes "an electronic display device and lighting control method of same."

Known as the light guide patent, it refers to a method for controlling the display on an electronic device based on the surrounding light.

HTC touted its win in this case as well.

"While the '974 patent is apparently less important to Nokia than the '120 patent, this decision nevertheless represents another major setback for Nokia in its attempt to license its nonessential patents to Android handset manufacturers," an HTC representative told CNET.

Nokia obviously was not as pleased based on a statement sent to CNET from company spokesman Mark Durrant:

Nokia respectfully disagrees with the court's decision, and we are considering our options. As we said in May 2012, we took these actions to end HTC's unauthorized use of our proprietary innovations and technologies. More than 30 further Nokia patents have been asserted against HTC in other actions in Germany, the U.S., and the U.K. and we anticipate that we shall prevail in these. HTC must respect our intellectual property and compete using its own innovations.

So the victory by HTC and Android is far from final.

Nokia will likely appeal the decision to a higher court in Germany, according to Mueller, and forge ahead with its other patent violation claims against HTC.

CNET contacted HTC for comment and will update the story if we receive any information.

Update, 10:15 a.m. PT: Adds statement from Nokia and 11 a.m. PT: Adds statement from HTC.