HTC has won a UK High Court battle against Apple over patents for touch-screen technology, including the Cupertino company's slide to unlock feature.
Lawyer Peter Bell called today's ruling a 'considerable defeat for Apple in the smartphone patent wars'. Patent claims have been thrown back and forth between manufacturers in courts around the world.
Bell, a senior associate in the intellectual property team at law firm Stevens & Bolton, said: '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.'
The ruling found two of the patents were invalid, including the slide to unlock feature. One was thrown out in part and the fourth was held not to be infringed by HTC. In a statement, Apple did not comment on today's decision. It said: 'Competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.' A HTC spokesperson told Bloomberg: 'We remain disappointed that Apple continues to favor competition in the courtroom over competition in the marketplace.'
Bell expects Apple to appeal the decision and said the ruling would not affect manufacturer's appetite for litigation. He said: 'Given the current thirst for patent litigation in the smartphone market, Apple seems more likely to react by launching a counter-offensive than by backing down. In the meantime, consumers will continue to suffer from a market where litigation rather than innovation is the order of the day and where any companies brave enough to try to enter the market are almost guaranteed to be greeted by an onslaught of court proceedings.'
Editor: Graeme Neill