HTC is facing a sales ban on handsets sold through Deutsche Telekom AG, after a German court granted an injunction request against the Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer. This ruling is likely to compound HTC’s financial problems, which have been hindered by poor smartphone sales this year.
The case was filed by Acacia Research Group LLC, a patent licensing firm based in Plano Texas. Acacia had issued a suit against Deutsche Telekom over standard essential patents related to voice coding technology last year. The group has licensing deals with Apple, Samsung, Amazon, Huawei and others over these standard technologies, but not with HTC. It is not clear if HTC and Acacia are actively participating in licensing discussions or not.
Deutsche Telekom has confirmed the ruling but states that sales of its HTC devices are still currently available through its online shop. The carrier says it is working with HTC to minimise disruption to consumers.
This news is just the latest in a year full of disappointment for HTC. Although HTC saw a boost to its monthly revenue in November following the launch of its new One A9 smartphone, it is still facing a situation where revenue is 40 percent lower than last year and the company is struggling to break even each quarter. HTC has already announced a 15 percent reduction in its workforce and is preparing to launch new products, such as the Vive virtual reality headset, to diversity away from stiff competition in the smartphone market.
The injunction is expected to take effect later this month, although HTC has said that it intends to launch an appeal.