Nokia wins court injunction over HTC microphone technology


Nokia has successfully won a court injunction banning HTC from using the same microphone parts as Nokia mad by STMicroelectronics in its flagship product the HTC One. The decision was made by the Amsterdam district court which follows Nokia’s claim that it they invented the parts, which are made by STMicroelectronics exclusively for its own phones.

The discovery of this treachery follows a “teardown” of the HTC One by Nokia’s engineers, they then discovered the part which is supposed to be exclusively made for Nokia. The Mobile phone giant then filed this action after the discovery that HTC were using Nokia parts, a spokesman for Nokia had this to say “In its marketing materials, HTC claims that its HDR microphone is a key feature for the HTC One. But it is Nokia HAAC technology, developed exclusively for use in Nokia products.”

The global injunction against HTC will last for a year and will also stop STMicroelectronics from selling the part to HTC,  In a statement Nokia said “HTC has no licence or authorisation from Nokia to use these microphones or the Nokia technologies from which they have been developed.”

This is a major set back for HTC who have had to delay the release of the flagship device in serval countries because they could not source enough camera parts for the demand and now the injunction will set them back even further, it looks like the HTC One won’t be hitting the shelves anytime soon.

Since the mobile market is becoming an even more competitive market to be in companies like Nokia are using their intellectual property aggressively against other mobile companies, this  began with Apple – Nokia won an ongoing settlement in June 2011 & and in December 2012 against BlackBerry.

STMicroelectronics will have to pony up €50,000 (£43,000 or $65,000) for each microphone sold to competitors up to €1m. The company gave a statement saying they were considering other alternative solutions. In a statement HTC  said: “HTC is disappointed in the decision. We are consulting with STM and will decide whether it is necessary to explore alternative solutions in due course. In the meanwhile, we do not expect this decision to have any immediate impact on our handset sales.”

The HTC One was supposed to be the device that put HTC back on the radar of the bigger companies, and not the device that was ripping their technology off. HTC has been crushed in a number of markets by Samsung using its broader distribution network and using their relationships with mobile phone carriers to their advantage. The set back to HTC will definitely give Samsung a comfortable lead ahead of HTC in the mobile phone market.

HTC is seeing their profit dwindling as competitors Apple and Samsung tighten their grip even more on the high end and mid range smartphone market. In the first fiscal quarter of 2013 HTC’s revenue was £948m and operating income was just £950,000. Revenue for HTC has fallen to less that a quarter of their peak from the third quarter of 2011 when they were very popular in the mid-range smartphone market.

In comparison, Nokia’s first-quarter revenues in the mobile space were €2.89bn but it had made operating loss of about €42m. Nokia is struggling to overtake BlackBerry in the race to become the third big player in the smartphone market, behind Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating system.

The image below shows the same microphone part invented by Nokia but in both a Nokia phone and the HTC One.

Nokia and HTC microphone debacle


Source – The Guardian

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