HTC 'One Mini' faces UK ban after court ruling on patent infringement

LONDON/TAIPEI Wed Dec 4, 2013 10:15am IST

Customers look at HTC smartphones in a mobile phone shop in Taipei July 30, 2013. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang/Files

Customers look at HTC smartphones in a mobile phone shop in Taipei July 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Pichi Chuang/Files

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LONDON/TAIPEI (Reuters) - HTC Corp(2498.TW) will have to stop selling its One Mini smartphone in Britain from December 6 after a British court ruled the Taiwanese company had infringed patents owned by Finnish rival Nokia(NOK1V.HE).

Justice Richard Arnold of the England and Wales High Court on Tuesday granted Nokia a final injunction to stop HTC from continuing to infringe upon a European Patent held by Nokia related to mobile phone microchips. The judge had ruled in October that HTC's One phone contained the microchips.

HTC, responding to the lawsuit, said on Wednesday it would appeal the ruling. "We have filed urgent application to appeal. In the meantime, we are working with our chip suppliers to explore alternative solutions," it said in a statement.

Analysts said the ban would have limited impact on HTC's sales as the One Mini is also not its flagship model. Europe accounts for around 20 percent of the company's overall sales, they added.

Shares in HTC slid 3.6 percent in early trading on Wednesday, underperforming a 0.2 percent gain in the broader Taiwan market.

PENDING APPEAL

The British judge had allowed HTC a partial stay on the ruling, so that it can continue selling its flagship One model pending an appeal, because a ban would cause "considerable damage" to HTC's UK business.

But for the smaller One Mini, the judge said the balance came down in favour of refusing a stay because HTC had designed and launched it when it knew it was facing a claim for infringement of the patent.

Nokia in a statement said "pending the appeal, HTC has undertaken not to ship any more of the infringing products into the UK, except the HTC One, which it may continue to sell until the conclusion of any appeal."

"If HTC does not succeed on appeal, the injunction will take effect on all infringing products. Nokia is also claiming financial compensation for the infringement of this patent."

HTC started selling the One series in March.

(Reporting by Aashika Jain in Bangalore, Paul Sandle in London and Clare Jim in Taipei; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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