HTC Halts UK Smartphone Sales Amid IP Dispute – Report

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Intellectual property dispute with German firm results in HTC stop offering its phones for sale in the UK

The Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC has reportedly halted sales of its devices in the United Kingdom after an intellectual property dispute with German firm Ipcom.

Ipcom and HTC are said to be locked in a long running dispute centred around a wireless technology developed for car phones.

It comes after questions were raised about the future of the HTC brand earlier this year, after HTC decided to temporarily withdraw its smartphones from two of China’s largest online marketplaces.

Ipcom dispute

HTC’s online store currently lists all of its smartphone models as “out of stock“, despite the fact they remain available in other nations, the BBC reported.

It is reported that in order to resolve the dispute with Ipcom, HTC had agreed to sell only mobiles with a workaround in the UK.

But Ipcom reportedly carried out product testing earlier this year that allegedly showed no workaround had been implemented in the handsets.

Ipcom has told Silicon UK that HTC has agreed to suspend sales of its Desire 12 handset only.

“We were disappointed to learn that, after failing to take out a FRAND [fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory] licence for the patent and stalling negotiations for over a decade, HTC displayed further disregard for the law by contravening a UK Court ruling,” Pio Suh, MD at IPCom told Silicon UK via email.

“The technology industry is dependent upon the fair, transparent and legal use of IP, and the recent development with HTC highlights the impact on those businesses which don’t play by the rules,” Suh added.

“As a leading innovator, HTC takes intellectual property issues very seriously,” an HTC spokeswoman told the BBC. “We are proactively investigating an infringement claim by a third party with respect to a single handset model.”

HTC is of course the longest serving Android smartphone maker, after it released the first ever Android smartphone (the HTC Dream) back in September 2008.

But according to IDC data, the firm has seen its global share of the smartphone market drop from a peak of 10.7 percent in 2011 to just 0.05 percent.

In the UK for example HTC handsets are no longer offered by outlets such as Carphone Warehouse, O2 and EE.

Instead British customers either have to use HTC’s own website or Amazon to acquire the smartphones.

Google factor

It should be remembered that Google actually purchased much of HTC’s smartphone design team (roughly 2,000 HTC staff), after the two firms entered into a $1.1 billion deal back in 2017.

That deal essentially saw HTC engineers migrated across to the search engine giant to create Google-branded Pixel handsets.

HTC always said at the time that it would continue to work on its own flagship phones as well as pushing ahead with developing its Vive virtual reality division.

HTC has also reportedly unveiled a 5G hub to provide homes and offices with next-generation mobile networks.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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