HTC Beats Claims by German Patent Plaintiff IPCom
HTC Corp. and its lawyers at Perkins Coie won a big ruling Monday in a transatlantic fight with the German company IPCom Gmbh, which has been called Europe's first bona fide "patent troll."
In a one-sentence order, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a prior ruling that HTC doesn't infringe two IPCom patents relating to wireless technology. The ruling resolves most of a long-running U.S. patent case between HTC and IPCom.
The Federal Circuit's decision follows an oral argument held on Dec. 3. Michael Oblon of Perkins Coie argued for HTC. Mitchell Stockwell of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton made the case for IPCom.
IPCom is patent monetization firm led by German lawyer Bernhard Frohwitter. Its main business is asserting a portfolio of wireless patents that the engineering company Robert Bosch Gmbh sold off when it exited the handset business in 2007. As our own Michael Goldhaber explained in a recent column, Frohwitter learned about the U.S. patent litigation system while working in Texas during the 1990s. Defendants say he's exporting innovation-stifling "patent trolling" to Europe. Frohwitter told Goldhaber that the criticisms are off-base.
HTC was one of IPCom's first targets. In 2008, as worldwide litigation between the companies was heating up, HTC sought a declamatory judgment that it didn't infringe a U.S. patent that IPCom bought from Bosch. IPCom counterclaimed infringement of two of its other U.S. patents. In a series of summary judgment rulings, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer in Washington D.C. ruled that HTC doesn't infringe all three patents at issue.
Monday's Federal Circuit decision affirms Collyer but relates to only two of the patents. Once the case is remanded, Collyer will decide what to do about the third patent. That patent has had a tortured history. The Federal Circuit revived it in 2012, but HTC's lawyer wrote in a recent court filing that they've chipped away at it in a proceeding before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
IPCom has also struggled in European patent litigation against HTC and Nokia. The main bright spot for IPCom was a June 2013 settlement with Deutsche Telekom, rumored to be in the hundreds of millions of euros. HTC is represented in the European litigation by Martin Chakraborty of Hogan Lovells.
HTC counsel Oblon and IPCom counsel Stockwell did not immediately return calls seeking comment.