- Tools for Investors
- Stock News
- Investing Ideas
- Econ & Policy
- Personal Finance
It looks as though Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) finally picked a fight it couldn’t win after the High Court in London ruled in favor of HTC in a patent dispute brought by Apple. The judge ruled Thursday that HTC had not infringed four technologies that Apple had claimed as its own.
The judge said Apple’s slide-to-lock feature was an “obvious” development in the light of a similar function on an earlier Swedish handset, negating any claim Apple might have to the technology. Apple has already cited the patent in claims against firms using Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android mobile operating system.
Don’t Miss: Google’s Latest Product Explosion.
The four patents were:
It was HTC that initiated the London-based lawsuits a year ago in an effort to invalidate European patents Apple had previously cited in a German court case. Apple subsequently countersued, but the judge ruled that the first three patents were invalid in this case, while the fourth did not apply to HTC’s devices.
The ruling will hold weight in other lawsuits Apple has launched regarding its slide-to-unlock patent. The judge said HTC’s “arc unlock” feature would have infringed Apple’s technology had it not been for a device released in 2004, a few years before Apple’s first touchscreen device. The Neonode N1 showed a padlock on its screen with the words “right sweep to unlock,” the text later replaced by an arrow.
That earlier technology, the judge said, made Apple’s slider an “obvious” improvement, but not new. In fact, the concept of a “slider” had already appeared in Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) CE system.
But that hasn’t stopped Apple from asserting its slide-to-lock patent in other disputes against Samsung, HTC, and Google’s Motorola unit, with varying levels of success. A U.S. court recently ruled the slide patent was valid in a dispute that led to a sales ban being imposed on the Google-branded Nexus smartphone. And to that end, the impact of the London ruling will be limited.
Andrew Alton, a lawyer at U.K. firm Urquhart-Dykes and Lord who used to do work for Apple, told the BBC, “National patent laws thematically are very similar, but can be applied very differently.”
“Not only are the tests different but also the evidence that can be introduced in different courts varies. If the Neonode wasn’t released in the U.S. it might not be able to be cited there.
“So the fact that Apple has lost this particular patent battle in the U.K. shouldn’t mean it should be seen to have lost the global war.”
Still, further claims against other firms over the same technology will be a moot point in the U.K., a major market for Apple products.
Don't miss one of the biggest bull markets in history! Covers Gold, Silver, Gold & Silver stocks, and miners.
There's always a bull market in some sector! Find the best opportunities in commodities.