Apple is trying to get two patents held by HTC invalidated. The patents in question relate to data transmission in wireless devices, more specifically technology that is essential for 4G LTE devices. If Apple announces support for 4G LTE networks in its new iPhone, and possibly iPad mini (you can already get an LTE iPad), next week, then HTC will seek an import ban. The strategy is intended to force Apple into a settlement and get the company to drop its many patent infringement suits against HTC.
The International Trade Commission (ITC) Judge, Thomas Pender, had this to say:
“Clear and convincing means something to me. I have to be pretty darn certain a U.S. patent is invalid.”
HTC acquired the patents in April 2011 as part of a portfolio it bought from ADC Telecommunications Inc. for $75 million. That was just before the company began selling its first LTE phone, the Thunderbolt. HTC said it bought the patents as protection against Apple. The Taiwanese company also pointed out that it is an innovator in the LTE space and an early-adopter, even a “pioneer”.
In a previous case HTC was denied the use of patents that Google tried to lend the manufacturer, but this time around Judge Pender told Apple’s lawyer:
“I don’t care if they bought these patents to sue you or not. They are a property right.”
Apple has been aggressive in its pursuit of HTC. Apple requested an emergency ban of several HTC devices just a couple of months ago, and the two companies are embroiled in a number of suits and countersuits in the US and beyond.