HTC is using Nokia's High Amplitude Audio Capture technique in the new HTC One
Today Nokia has been granted a preliminary injunction by the Amsterdam district court concerning the technology HTC used in its current flagship HTC One, Engadget reports. Now it's not PureView, but since the PureViewClub is about Rich Recording as well, I think this news will interest you.
Nokia has been granted this preliminary injunction for the supply to HTC of microphone components invented by and manufactured for Nokia. It's (probably) all about the HAAC microphones you'll find in the Nokia 808 PureView, Lumia 920 and Lumia 720. Here's the full text from the Press Release as quoted by Engadget:
"The Amsterdam District Court has today granted Nokia's request for a preliminary injunction against the supply to HTC of microphone components invented by and manufactured exclusively for Nokia.
Nokia filed this action after it discovered these components in the HTC One; HTC has no license or authorization from Nokia to use these microphones or the Nokia technologies from which they have been developed.
In its marketing materials, HTC claims that its HDR microphone is a key feature for the HTC One, but it is Nokia technology, developed exclusively for use in Nokia products. This is one of the latest in a number of cases brought by Nokia to end HTC's unauthorized use of Nokia's inventions.
More than 40 Nokia patents have been asserted against HTC in Germany, the US and the UK. An injunction against HTC devices in Germany, which were found on March 19 to infringe Nokia's patent EP 0 673 175, is now in effect. The latest case, on Nokia patent EP 1 579 613 B1 was filed in Mannheim, Germany on April 16. Once again, Nokia calls on HTC to compete using its own innovations and to stop copying from Nokia."
This means that Nokia may try to ban the HTC One from the Dutch market, but if Nokia will do so is unclear at this moment - also, it looks like Nokia may even go a lot further than just the Dutch market. This looks like a major setback for HTC anyway, since many are eagerly waiting the arrival of the HTC One - like I am, to test its camera... (and sound :-)
I don't have enough knowledge about the implications of this verdict, and I understand Engadget will update as they learn more about the issue. As far as I've understood, the guilty party is the producer selling Nokia's technique to HTC (which would be ST Microelectronics). So this is not about "blatantly copying": it's about the use of a protected technique, and in general that makes for a much stronger case. But I'm not a lawyer, so I can't write in detail about this matter.
I'd just like to mention one thing though, that on february 19 I noticed that Nokia has been a big inspiration for HTC, a post from which I quote: "I read in The Verge’s coverage that “HTC has also improved the capture with “HDR sound recording.” Two mics, with membranes to record undistorted audio” – and that reminds us all of Rich Recording in the Nokia 808 PureView, doesn’t it?"
Well, now we know why. It appears to be the exact same microphone technology after all. It that's really true, it looks like HTC could be in pretty big trouble...
Update: I just received a short statement from HTC in The Netherlands - in Dutch, so I'll try to translate it as good as I can...
"Although HTC is a limited party in this matter we regret the decision. At the moment we are in agreement with STM and look at whether it is necessary to look for alternative solutions. In the meantime, we do not expect that this decision will have a direct impact on the sale of our phones."
That's quite optimistic I'd say... But it seems obvious ST Microelectronics is at least as responsible for the current situation, after breaking down on the Non Disclosure Agreement with Nokia (which is what has happened if I understand correctly).
To be continued, no doubt.
Update 2: BBC News has a patent lawyer from the UK commenting on the implications of this prilimanary injunction, which appears to be limited to The Netherlands at this moment.
According to patent lawyer Andrew Alton, from law firm Urquhart-Dykes and Lord, the ruling will be limited to the Netherlands. "The injunction was issued by a Dutch court and the extent to which is is enforceable in other jurisdictions is a complicated matter," he said. "Nokia will have to start legal processes in each country as there is no such thing as a worldwide enforceable injunction."
However, any other European court asked to pass judgement on it will have to consider the Dutch ruling. It is a fairly minor win for Nokia, according to Mr Alton. "This is going to be a pain for HTC, but it isn't going to cripple them. No-one buys smartphones on the basis of it having a really great microphone."
Nokia, which is struggling to gain ground on rivals such as Apple and Samsung, has filed about 40 patent infringement cases against HTC. It also has cases pending against Blackberry. "Nokia has got a decent patent portfolio. It was in the business from the start so have telephony patents as well as software ones so it is in a strong position," said Mr Alton.