March 6, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka
Bad news for German Android fans: a German court has found that HTC violated patents owned by IPCom GmBH in its Windows Mobile and Google Android phones. The court finding is likely to lead to further action that threatens to block the sale of HTC-manufactured Android phones in Germany.
IPCom Director Bernhard Frohwitter spoke with German media outlet Handelsblatt and stated that his company expects HTC to pay licensing fees for violating the disputed patents. If his company and HTC cannot reach an agreement on compensation, IPCom will seek to block all sales of HTC devices that violate its patents. The G1/HTC Dream, HTC Sapphire (HTC Magic), and any other Android device that violates the “100 series” patent held by IPCom could potentially be off-limits to German retailers.
HTC told Handelsblatt that it takes the matter “very seriously,” and maintains that it did not violate any patents. The company plans to appeal the ruling on the grounds that IPCom’s claims are not valid.
Google Translate doesn’t produce the most sensible translation of the original German language report, but the gist of the article is clear: HTC can either pay up or watch millions of dollars in potential sales in Germany vanish.
T-Mobile, Vodafone, and Google’s interest are also threatened by this patent battle. The G1 accounted for a large portion of new T-Mobile subscribers last quarter, and Android is clearly a major part of its business strategy. Vodafone “has not been approached” by IPCom yet, but they stand to profit greatly from sales of the HTC Magic. Google, which worked with HTC to develop the first Android phone, has also been sued by IPCom for patent violation.