Nokia has been granted an injunction to stop HTC from shipping its One Mini smartphone to the UK, but its flagship One smartphone can stay on sale. The injunction is subject to an appeal for 6 December, but if that fails the ban will go ahead.
The decision comes after a case in late October, which found HTC to have infringed patents owned by Nokia. At the time Nokia said it would push for a sales ban and Justice Richard Arnold has now approved this after another court hearing in late November.
“Nokia has a legitimate interest in seeking a final injunction to prevent further exploitation of the patented invention by HTC without its consent,” he wrote in the appeal ruling. HTC is appealing the ruling but has agreed not to ship any infringing devices until the appeal date of 6 December.
Other devices covered in the ban include the HTC One SV, HTC One X+, HTC 8X, HTC 8S and HTC One Max.
However, the judge agreed that the HTC One device should remain on sale as there will be a period between now and when its next flagship will be launched that could harm the firm irrevocably.
"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,” he wrote.
“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 be shortly 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.”
However, the One Mini will face the ban as the judge did not agree that the case was as compelling to exclude it from the injunction.
HTC said it was pleased to have been given the chance to appeal and said it was working to find a way around the potential ban on the patent in question.
"Whilst the Court also granted an injunction that affects other third party chipsets, we have filed urgent application to appeal. In the meantime, we are working with our chip suppliers to explore alternative solutions," it said.
"As always, HTC's primary focus is on supporting our customers and ensuring minimal disruption to them and our business."
Nokia welcomed the decision and said it would be pushing for a ban if the appeal fails. "Nokia is pleased that the UK High Court has imposed an injunction on certain HTC products found in October to infringe a Nokia patent. Pending the appeal, HTC has undertaken not to ship any more of the infringing products into the UK,” it said.
"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."
As well as revealing that HTC has a new flagship device pegged for launch in February or March next year, the court document said HTC sold "approximately 715,000 smartphones in the UK in the period January to September 2013".
The case is just one of many legal spats in the phone market at present, with Apple and Samsung also suing one another around the world, with Apple recently winning a sizeable $290m extra from Samsung after a jury decision in California.
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