High Court finds HTC devices don't infringe Apple patents

4th Jul 2012 | 13:53

High Court finds HTC devices don't infringe Apple patents

Gesture unlock and multi-touch functionality upheld

There could be light at the end of the Android / Apple patent feud after a UK judge dismissed Apple's claims against HTC.

The trial found that patents regarding multi-touch input, gesture unlocking and the 'bounce' interface to denote reaching the end of a list were full or partly invalid, and could not be upheld.

The patents were mostly found to be considered obvious implementations of the notions expressed, and therefore could not be held as valid patents within the UK.

Update: HTC has commented on the ruling, stating it's 'pleased' with the outcome:

"Today, the English High Court found that three of four patents claimed by Apple to be infringed by HTC were invalid, and that HTC did not infringe the fourth. One of the invalidated patents is Apple's flagship 'slide to unlock' patent.

"Apple's photo management patent was found not to be infringed. HTC is pleased with the ruling, which provides further confirmation that Apple's claims against HTC are without merit. We remain disappointed that Apple continues to favour competition in the courtroom over competition in the marketplace."

This means manufacturers are able to implement the features Apple maintains it has rights over, and could have an effect on previous rulings in Europe regarding judgments with other cases.

Slide-to-unlock for all!

Peter Bell, senior associate in the IP team at law firm Stevens & Bolton LLP, told TechRadar in a statement:

"This judgment of the English High Court marks a considerable defeat for Apple in the smartphone patent wars."

"Two of Apple's prize patents have been knocked out in the UK, including the patent that protects the "slide-to-unlock" mechanism that consumers are likely to associate with Apple's products, and a third patent has been knocked out in part.

"The fourth patent that was in dispute was held not to be valid but not infringed by HTC's devices."

"The judgment is likely to have significant ramifications across Europe. As well as suing HTC in the UK, Apple has also asserted all of these patents against Samsung in the UK and it has asserted the foreign equivalents of some of these patents against HTC, Samsung and Motorola in Germany and the Netherlands.

"Apple has even succeeded in getting injunctions against some of Samsung and Motorola's products in the Netherlands and Germany on the basis of some of these patents, in circumstances where the validity of the patents has not been considered thoroughly."

However, this likely won't be the last we'll hear of this case, with Apple set to continue litigation globally against competitors and will likely appeal this ruling too:

"Apple is likely to appeal the case to the Court of Appeal. Provided the judgment is upheld on appeal, all mobile phone manufacturers will be free to implement the features that were protected by the patents that have been knocked out in their UK devices without recourse from Apple, " added Bell.

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