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Analyst: Nokia likely to prevail over HTC in patent dispute over USB

Just over two weeks ago, Microsoft announced plans to buy the hardware and services division of Nokia. It’s the part of the company that actually makes all the hardware you’ve come to appreciate over the years. The remainder of Nokia will focus on three core businesses: location services (Here platform), Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN), and its advanced technologies division.

Nokia also keeps its patents portfolio, which Microsoft has licensed for 10 years. For others, they'll continue to need to pay royalties to use patents that Nokia owns and Nokia will continue to protect those patents. It’s happening right now in Germany. And according to one patent analyst, Nokia is closing in on one victory over a USB configuration patent against HTC.

In Germany, HTC and Nokia are duking it out over a handful of patents in various courts. One of those battles is in Munich over patent EP1246071. That patent describes a “method of configuring electronic devices”, specifically over USB. When do you use this patent? Basically anytime you plug your Windows Phone into your PC and transfer pictures, documents, movies, music and more over USB. It’s a pretty big deal since a lot of HTC devices run Android, where syncing and transferring items to and from the PC is still very popular.

Florian Mueller is an intellectual property analyst. He runs the popular software patent blog Foss Patents. He was at the most recent court hearing for Nokia vs. HTC trial over patent EP1246071 and offers some of his insight to how the proceeding went. It’s worth noting that he was the only person in attendance besides the three judges, a court secretary, and the in-house and outside counsel for Nokia and HTC. He notes that Nokia was winning all arguments against HTC over the patent. Do check out his blog post, sourced below, to get the full picture of what’s happening in the heat of battle.

What happens if Nokia wins? HTC could and would still sell phones in Germany, but it would need to remove the USB functionality that so many people rely on. Which is something they would never do, so instead they’ll most likely pay Nokia a royalty to license the patents.

Curious about the patent in question? Read up on it. What do you guys think of the court case so far between Nokia and HTC? Sound off below

Source: Foss Patents

  • Proofreading, Sam. :( However, interesting news this. Let's see how this pans out.
  • Where? What passed me?
  • "For others, they're continue to..."
  • Oh yeah, that was corrected, but I must have done it in Word vs. the post. All fixed now. Thanks :)
  • You're welcome, Sam. Thankfully, there ain't too much autocorrection on Word though, otherwise, we would end up with a lot of gems to remember. :D
  • Also... " HTC could and would still SELL phones in Germany"...
  • Also, Foss should be FOSS - Free and Open Source Software.
    Not sure how it comes into play specifically in that blog, but that's almost certainly where the name comes from. Guessing it was the original focus and then he expanded scope.
  • This also seems fishy - HTC could and would still phones in Germany
  • Yeah, this one too. ⤴
  • Poor HTC..
  • What a silly patent. Who granted something this broad and obvious?
  • When nobody thought it was a big deal. That's innovation... thinking ahead.
  • Yeah silly and obvious?? Every patent at the time of filing is a new solution/technology (that's why its patent), which becomes silly and obvious in later time
  • How is Nokia's dick tasting lately?
  • Classy
  • You must be knowing it better than me..
  • Did you actually read the patent, or did you just assume?
  • I glad Nokia could win. But at the same time all this patent stuff is ridiculous. Seriously I patented the ability to transfer data thru a wire now pay me. I think all patents should be thrown out the door and let the company that makes the best product over all win by getting customers money a legit way. I'm honestly starting to think its just a way for companies to transfer large amounts of cash around.
  • how many innovations/process have you created spending your money and allowed others to use them without paying you.
  • The point is is that a lot of these patents are to broad, generic. Makes it so a little guy can never get up started because he's run out of money paying fees to other companies first. Its like glass, you can't patent that (or shouldn't be allowed to) unless you change the way it is like corning is doing. If I started making my own steel to sell I'd be damned if I'm gonna pay someone royalties to do it. Technology is too much into each others arse. To nit picky for everything.
  • This was very specific technology when it was patented. It wasn't generic. It only seems generic to you now because it was proven to be so useful that many adopted it.
  • Generic? By the time this patent approved, as far as I recall, none of other phones (or smartphones) using this multi-driver USB connection. The only smart device back then, Palm and Windows Mobile, only use synchronization app to transfer data back and forth. Back then, only S60 (that run on the kind of 6600) offer multiple selection of USB connection. So it isn't obvious at all. Unless you acuse that Nokia came from the future and makes money on obvious thing in the future.
  • If people would just be happy. If something that is a standard comes about I can see something like all companies doing a one time pay in to help cover costs of the research but to keep getting pay for something sucks for everyone else. Lets just agree to disagree.
  • If YOU were the one who created that patent and noticed every other company making money off of you genius you would be a little upset. Why can't they find another way to transfer files? They should pay ME royalties if their going to continue using my technology! It's not fair for someone to use someone elses technology for free unless they want them too... Innovation, that's how the little guy becomes the big guy someday.
  • So if I had a recipe for a food that was identical to yours then that's wrong? Lol. I just don't think anyone company should keep getting paid for something that the world over uses. There's only so many ways to do one thing. I said before though if companies wish to use some thing that another company has made then pay a one time fee to help reimburse the cost of r and d. Over time the company that made whatever product would be then profiting from it all. But they shouldn't have to milk everyone out there. I also stated that I'm glad that Nokia could win this because sadly its how the world works right now.
  • If you had a recipe identical to mine I'd sue you for everything you got lol there's only so many ways to cook food...
  • When it comes to taste there is only so many ways. You don't pay royalties on top of buying the ingredients to the companies that made those ingredients do you?
  • No matter how you cut it you lose.
  • So your telling me someone out there has a patent on pepperoni pizza and is getting royalties for it? Lol I don't think so.
  • I obviously don't know how food works compared to mobile technology which is not edible. You can argue your point all you want about how unfair it is but the business is driven by money and if you want a USB on your phone then you have to pay.
    It's cheaper copying other devices otherwise phone OEM's would need to invest & create a new device that the world would have to adapt to... No guarantees that it would be successful.
    Look at the bigger picture and stop focusing so much on pepperoni pizza.
  • The bigger picture is that in patents current state is flawed big time. But until some big entity forces a new way of doing it, things will remain the same. And yea the tech world is about 95 percent greedy (much like everything else in the world) but I believe it should be more on the quality of products that should win out not ok who's using this or that lets get them! But whatever. Everyone has there own opinions.
  • I'm with you Zeroplanetz. The patent system in much of the West is messed. When you are able to patent "unlocking a device by sliding your finger across the screen" then something is messed up. I swear WP Central users don't read the news at all. People have been asking for software patent reform for some time and for good reason.
  • Thank you.
  • No one said it was perfect but unless a better option is presented that's the way it is.
  • Now answer all comments above me!
  • What about other companies?
  • They are paying royalties.
  • Even Apple?
  • Apple doesn't use micro USB, they have a proprietary ishit cable..
  • I thought because they have syncing software, Nokia would sue them as well. Lol. In fairness, the lightning cable charges a lot faster, is sleeker, and can be put both ways. I hope microUSB 3.0 comes out soon.
  • One word, wireless charging and (some time in the future) wireless syncing? Wait, Didn't WP7.x devices sync to your PC using Zune over WiFi when you charge the phone? What happened to that? Dammit MS!
  • lmao good point dude. I heard everyone's been crying about that feature. and with good cause. incredible how we are moving forward yet you lose such a cool functionality like Wi-Fi syncing :(
  • Windows Phones never had WiFi sync, the Zune did though.
  • False.  All the 7.x phones had it. 
  • Um, they most certainly did (and do). WP7 devices could.sync with Zune over WiFi every night. Was awesome.
  • I went looking for a replacement for my daughter's ipad mini and they want $15 for the generic ones. A micro USB would run you about $2
  • They need to target samsung.. but i think samsung might sue them similiar to how they are doing with apple.. So once they get out of devices, there is nothing stopping from going after everybody who is using their patents without paying.
  • I believe Nokia has more patents than any other company. Approximately 49,756 results found in the Worldwide database for: Nokia corp as the applicant.
  • That's depended on whether Samsung is already paid the royalty or not I suppose. So, did they or didn't they? That is the question :)
  • While I have nothing against Nokia protecting its patents, I read a comment on the internet about how if it were up to Apple, they would also patent wearing pants one leg at a time.
  • better spend money and create a process, patent it and then see others gladly reaping benefits by using the process. lets see if you still have a problem or not.
  • Well, I don't know what you are getting at. But patent trolling seems to be a necessary evil, considering how that 'others' who reap benefits, includes a certain someone of Samsung's wherewithal, someone who is trigger-happy copying ideas at will, and decimating pioneers & competitors with just might of the moolah. It is happy to get away losing money through lawsuits, but only after it has milked much much more through said copying.
  • Wow, it looks like Nokia is shaping up to become a very scary patent troll, with a massive library of patents covering fundamental technology and without a hardware business that they can be counter-sued over. Good reason to sell off the hardware division much?
  • Point!
  • This very much seems to be Nokia's plan going forward. Will be interesting to see though. I am sure Nokia will not cut back on it's R&D.
  • Nokia still owns and therefore uses their hardware division, so Nokia isn't a patent troll (yet, but they will be)
  • Yeah, they still own the hardware division. For now. The creation of the division under the CTO for licensing shows that this is pretty much the way forward for them.
  • How can they been trolling if they inveted/discovered/had idea about time ago, for wich they spend it alot of their money!
    So no matter if they won't be hardwer company, they still made a patent, they didn't just bought it to troll it.
    Patents are for a reason. I'm danm sure, they wouldn't spend so much money on R&D if as soon as they release a phone, the competition would grab all new inovation, without spending any money and be right beside of Nokia in competition.
  • Notice I'm not commenting on whether it's morally right or wrong to do it. If it makes you feel better, replace "patent troll" with "non practicing entity". I'm only saying that its shaping up to be a financially savvy strategy.
  • "patent troll" is not the same as "non practicing entity", and even that is not the right term for Nokia because Nokia did not start out as a "non-practicing entity". You should have used the latter term in your initial comment.
  • So ... If I research on something, found a new materialized idea, tested on my labs, that can benefit lots of people if using this invention, I cannot patent it if I don't really make any products (hence: non practicing entity)? From where can I get those research fund back? Does that costly and long research time are not worth to be paid by the users?
  • Omg can you people read? I didn't say they don't deserve to be paid! I only said that they will make a lot of money from their patents. I think a disclaimer is in order, while I think that the current patent system is flawed, I never said that non practicing entities are evil!
  • Well ... you didn't say that explicitly, but these statement of yours,
    "Wow, it looks like Nokia is shaping up to become a very scary patent troll, with a massive library of patents covering fundamental technology and without a hardware business that they can be counter-sued over. Good reason to sell off the hardware division much?",
    pretty much said that. When you say "patent troll", then I assume you are indeed saying THE pantent troll, those who didn't researching, invent anything, and somehow end up having patents that used solely to sue other that use something that did similar thing like the patent describe
  • You know what? I give up. My original intention was only to point out the profitability of such a strategy. Read more into the wording what you will. I've unsubscribed from this comment thread.
  • You're arguing with idiots or people who don't speak English as their first language. It's not worth the effort.
  • Check Wikipedia on Patent Troll. A company that sues others for patents BUT does not use patents is classified as a patent troll. I personally have no problem with justified lawsuits, but I am using the word as it was intended.
  • Do you even know what a patent troll is? Nokia invented this stuff. They used real research to create real advances.
  • See above response.
  • See my response on above response (I'm assuming your "above response" is your response above Reflexx's response that I responded to) :)
  • Damn!
  • I wonder they didnt sue htc over the ois thing on their htc one ( and i wonder if nokia has a patent on it )
  • Good they make a lot of android devices so we could use the money they poor in from android! Unless they make a deal with Microsoft to sell more quality Windows Phones;)
  • Except Microsoft makes money from android phones already, I'm sure HTC paying Nokia to keep using this isn't a big deal to them (well, not as much as removing the syncing capability would be).
  • well they can make a deal with the devil also.. but still have to pay royalties to Nokia:)
  • Problem will be the companies will all come together to sue Microsoft instead, since Microsoft bought the Nokia hardware division, in order to exact revenge on Nokia. After all they all want Microsoft dead anyway. But they will fail.
  • Microsoft willhave cross license agreements with every body else. So they are covered.
  • Is it just me or does it seem HTC is having no luck lately? I mean, android they are being spanked by Samsung, Apple for a while targeted them for some patent disputes, now Nokia is already dominating WP and they are now duking it out in court. Not sure the situation where MS is buying Nokia will help HTC but we will see. I have a feeling HTC is crumbling by the day...
  • HTC is just putting up a brave face for now. I am sure they are on their way down.
  • Sam, any rumors about Win Phone 8.5 bringing back wifi syncing? I didnt realize my old LG Lotus Elite was able to do something my new Lumia 920 can't do... I do miss that feature.
    As for the patent debate, Nokia and every other company that spends a bazillion dollars on research and development has an obligation to shareholders to protect their investment. Not every idea that is researched is feasible or marketable, so they do need to protect the patents that represent valuable intellectual property. Patents have a limited life (17 years in the U.S.) and tech patents have an even shorter usable life. It's amazing that HTC hasn't gone totally wifi sync, saying to hell with USB... but then, Motorola would be knocking on their door, wouldn't they?
  • Looks like Microsoft somewhat has the mobile market by the balls; 
    Nokia slowing down rivals
    Microsoft having acces to all there patents without having to pay a fee and also having the largest computer industry patent portifolio Now just hope they don't screw this up :D 
  • ..."without having to pay a fee..."
    You mean the $2.2 billion MS will pay Nokia for licensing the patents. :)
  • Nice to know Nokia Licensed many of its patents, but I hope Apple, Google, Samsung, or any other company doesn't attempt a hostile takeover of Nokia. That corporation would have a complete stranglehold of patents; they would never let go and every company would be at their mercy!
  • Unlikely really, MS had somesort of a agreement with them so they could use there services
    Dont think they will sell to Samsung for example, would be a really big middle finger to MSFT, if not violating contract
  • I didn't say selling in my comment. I said "hostile takeover". Hostile takeovers have happened during such agreements and hostile companies have voided agreements such as this.
  • It is obvious HTC would licence them and pay a loyalty to Nokia. And Nokia would definitely licence then so they can continuously get the money .
  • Isn't the point of USB to connect things to the PC? What kind of patent is this?
  • Poor HTC once again catched with pants down.
    HTC - Silently Stealing
  • Crows came to feed upon the weak body of Nokia..!!