Apple/HTC Settlement the End of Litigation for Tech Developers? Maybe Just Breathing Room, Says John Marshall Law School Professor Daryl Lim

(PRWEB) November 15, 2012

One of the ongoing legal battles in the tech industry came to a surprising end on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, when technology giant Apple and HTC, the Taiwanese smart phone manufacturer, agreed to dismiss a series of lawsuits that have kept the two companies in court for more than two years (Cases Apple Inc. v. High Tech Computer Corp., No. 1:10-cv-00166; Apple Inc. et al v. High Tech Computer Corp., No. 1:10-cv-00167).

Will this stave off future legal skirmishes as companies attempt to make improvements on smart phone technologies? Its not the final word on patent complaints and legal fights over technology, according to Professor Daryl Lim of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

This is a partial victory for both parties. Whether HTC can successfully take advantage of this development remains to be seen, said Lim, an intellectual property law professor. In the meantime, Apple may use the settlement it has reached with HTC, the first Android smart phone maker it targeted, as a reference point for settlement in its other disputes.

The dispute focused on Apples accusations that HTC had improperly copied the iPhones graphical user interface, underlying hardware and software design. HTC in turn had accused Apple of copying its wireless technology. The companies said their settlement includes a 10-year license agreement that grants rights to current and future patents held by both parties.

The Apple-HTC settlement is a welcome development. It shows that parties can reach an agreement to resolve high stakes, high cost litigation in a more amicable and efficient manner, Lim noted. The settlement, believed to cost HTC licensing fees between $ 6 and $ 8 per phone, allows the company the time and space it needs to focus on innovation and attempt to re-take lost market share.

HTC is expected to produce nearly 35 million Android smartphones in 2013.

The professor noted that this litigation was one in a number of smart phone disputes, such as the ongoing battles between Apple, Microsoft and Google, on what constitutes a reasonable royalty rate and litigations here and abroad between Apple and Samsung in which they have traded claims of patent infringement. Still to be determined is the appropriateness of the billion dollar verdict against Samsung which rested on both Apples utility and design patents.

Lim concluded that compared with those ongoing struggles, HTC has gained some breathing room from legal issues to focus on its products in a fast growing and very competitive market. It is a global market where one billion consumers, or one in seven people, own a smart phone with the number set to double in the next three years.

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