HTC "One Two" to launch early 2014, UK patent judge reveals

HTC's flagship phone, the HTC One, will have a successor by February or March of 2014, a UK patent judge has revealed in a court document. The name of that successor is the cleverly named "HTC One Two," according to the BBC. No photos or specs were revealed.

HTC can't be pleased with this little revelation. The HTC One Two will be the company's new flagship phone. News of its impending arrival will undoubtedly slow sales of the current flagship phone, the HTC One, at a time when gift shopping is at its high point for the year.

But the judge had little choice in the matter, it would seem. The timing of the upcoming phone was relevant to a patent court case between HTC and Nokia. HTC had been using a modulator — a data transmission chip — that infringed on a 1998 Nokia patent in a variety of HTC phones, including the Android-based One Max and One Mini, and Windows Phone-based 8X and 8S. Nokia wanted the judge to make HTC stop importing and selling these and other HTC phones into the UK until it stopped using the chips (which were made by Qualcomm, but the judge said the fault is with HTC.) HTC did stop importing the phones in question while the case was being heard, but Nokia wanted the injunction to be permanent and for HTC to pay license fees. Since that would also affect any other phones in development at HTC, and because timing was important to the ruling, the judge had to cite the arrival date of the HTC One Two.

Ultimately the judge decided not to prevent HTC from importing the phones for now, but the damage is done. The HTC One Two will arrive in the UK early 2014 and everyone knows it.

The key points in the court document from the hearing which took place Nov. 28-29, 2013:

From section 45:

HTC is close to launching the successor flagship model to the HTC One. HTC has not revealed the launch date. Nokia has adduced evidence which suggests that the launch date is in the first quarter of 2014 and possibly as early as February 2014. HTC has not contradicted this.

Section 81:

So far as the One is concerned, HTC's evidence is that the consequences of an immediate injunction will be catastrophic for its UK business because the One is its flagship model. HTC paints a dramatic picture of what will happen. I am bound to say that I am somewhat sceptical about this evidence given that HTC will shortly be launching its new flagship phone which cannot be assumed to infringe and therefore to be caught by the injunction. Nevertheless, I accept that there is a period between now and February or March 2014 when HTC is vulnerable. Furthermore, I accept that the damage which HTC will suffer if prevented from selling the One during this period will be both considerable and very difficult to quantify.

Are you in the market for an HTC One this year? Does this revelation influence you to hold off until February or March?