Nokia hits HTC with German power saving patent injunction [Update: HTC statement]

Nokia has been granted a patent injunction against HTC in Germany this week that has to do with power saving technology. The injunction was handed down by Judge Dr. Holger Kircher presiding over the Mannheim Regional Court. Kircher and the panel of judges he presides over found that HTC infringes Nokia's patent number EP0673175. The patent is for "reduction of power consumption in the mobile station."

The trial was conducted on February 5 and reports indicate that the HTC legal team was unable to deny infringing on the patent with devices from HTC that use a QUALCOMM baseband chip. The ruling would seem to indicate that Nokia would now have the leverage to force HTC to license the patent unless HTC and QUALCOMM can deactivate the power saving technique. The problem with simply deactivating the power saving technique is that users of the affected devices would see less battery life.

The technology covered in the patent at its basic level is able to save battery power by identifying specific packets of data that can be reconstructed using a portion of an encoded message. The patent covers a system that whenever possible provides power to the receiving component only when further portions must be received in order to decode the message and packets of data sent. The technology is able to save battery power when it senses a strong and clear radio signal by not receiving redundant data.

The technology covered in the patent is apparently particularly effective when the phone is in standby mode. The injunction handed down by a German court is permanent and not preliminary. Nokia was also granted a recall of infringing devices from retail locations and a declaration that it is entitled to damages to be determined during subsequent litigation. Nokia is also alleging that HTC is infringing on the same patent within the US and the UK.

Update: HTC has given us the following statement, and highlighted the fact that the injunction affects only devices which are no longer offered in the German market.

Today, the District Court of Mannheim handed down a judgment that HTC had infringed the German part of patent EP 0673175 (the '175 patent) entitled "Reduction of Power Consumption in a Mobile Station". HTC is naturally disappointed with the decision of the court, as it believes that Nokia failed to prove its case adequately. However, as the judgment only covers three handsets that HTC no longer imports into Germany (the Wildfire S, Desire S and Rhyme), this judgment is of little significance. HTC's German business will not be affected by it.

The power-saving technology described in this patent is trivial and contributes only a negligible reduction in power-consumption, so HTC has removed any allegedly corresponding functionality from all of its current German handsets as a precaution against any attempt by Nokia to extend the scope of the judgment unfairly. HTC will be appealing the present decision but also believes that this patent is invalid and so will be continuing with the invalidity actions pending before the German Federal Patents Court and the English Patents Court.

To date, of the twenty-two infringement actions that Nokia has brought against HTC in Germany, two (EP 1329982 and EP 1474750) have been stayed because of concerns over validity and two (EP 0812120 and EP 1312974) have been dismissed outright. This decision cannot be described as a 'win' for Nokia because it only applies to handsets that are no longer imported into Germany, and newer HTC handsets do not use the accused technology. As Nokia clearly went to great lengths to assert its strongest patents first, we are confident that its non-essential patent portfolio poses little threat to HTC.

[via Foss Patents]