In a preliminary ruling the ITC has found that HTC infringes two Nokia patents to do with sending and receiving signals. The move could block 7 older HTC handsets in the US, including the HTC Amaze 4G, Inspire 4G, Flyer, Jetstream, Radar 4G, Rezound and Sensation 4G, most of which are no longer on sale.
Despite Nokia choosing the ITC as a rapid venue for action, the full ITC is scheduled to make a final decision on the matter only January 23, 2014, by which time I doubt any of the handsets will have any market relevance.
Once divested of its handset division next year, Nokia may become more aggressive in pursuing patent litigation, as as a non-practicing entity they will no longer be vulnerable to countersuits from the companies it is suing.
In the mean time however there is a bigger threat looming for smartphone makers from the rapidly fading Blackberry, which may itself soon exit the handset market. The company owns around 5,135 patents, most related to now obsolete features like keyboards, but others still fundamental given the company was around at the start of the smartphone market.
Wikibon analyst Scott Lowe notes there is a risk some-one could buy Blackberry’s patent portfolio and “start suing everyone.” Even Fairfax holdings may be looking to leverage the asset for a return on their investment.
Ultimately Blackberry’s death throes may present a bigger risk to its competitors than when it was alive.