Android does not infringe on Nokia patent, German court rules

A "major setback" to Nokia's attempt to license its non-essential patents to Android handset manufacturers, defendant HTC said

The Android operating system has been cleared of patent infringement in a case brought by Nokia against Android smartphone maker HTC.

Nokia on Friday lost two patent suits it brought against HTC in the District Court of Mannheim, Germany, court spokesman Joachim Bock said in an email. In both cases, the suits were rejected because, according to the court, there was no patent infringement, Bock said.

"Nokia's main demands were -- as usual in similar cases -- to stop HTC making use of products which make use of the patent and to get compensation for the damage," he said.

Nokia alleged that HTC infringed on its EP0812120 patent (the 120 patent) entitled Method for using services offered by a telecommunications network, a telecommunications system, and a terminal for it, a patent that describes the working of application stores.

"HTC is delighted with todays decision of the District Court of Mannheim," an HTC spokeswoman said via email. "We are gratified that the court apparently shares HTCs view and that, given the positive ruling of non-infringement today, the Android platform is now safe from oppressive enforcement of this patent," HTC said, adding that Nokia "has exaggerated the scope of its patent" in order to extract unwarranted licensing royalties from Android handset manufacturers.

HTC said it believes the patent to be invalid and will continue with invalidity actions pending before the English Patents Court and German Federal Patents Court. "We fully expect the patent to be revoked before any Nokia appeal proceedings take place," HTC said. "While Nokia will doubtless try to downplay the significance of this victory, the 120 patent is Nokias flagship patent, and appears to be one of the reasons that Apple was forced to settle with Nokia after it was asserted against Apple in the same court," it added.

Nokia was asserting the patent against HTC's distribution of the Google Play app and content store client app, said Florian Mueller, a legal consultant who has been tapped as an advisor for tech companies including Oracle and Microsoft who attended the court in Mannheim on Friday to hear the verdicts in a blog post.

In a separate judgment handed down on Friday, the Mannheim court also dismissed an infringement complaint by Nokia alleging that HTC infringed EP1312974 (the 974 patent). That patent is entitled "Electronic Display Device and Lighting Control Method of Same", and relates to a method for controlling the lighting of a display in an electronic device, lighting the display on the basis of the ambient light.

HTC said it was "extremely pleased" by the court's second decision and will also continue the invalidity actions against the '974 patents pending in the U.K. and Germany. In this case too, HTC expects the German Federal Patents Court to revoke the patent before any appeal by Nokia is filed, it said.

"While 974 patent is apparently less important to Nokia than the 120 patent, this decision nevertheless represents another major setback for Nokia in its attempt to license its non-essential patents to Android handset manufacturers," HTC said.

In May 2012, Nokia filed claims against HTC, Research In Motion and Viewsonic in the U.S. and Germany alleging that products from those companies infringe a number of Nokia patents. Nokia wants the companies to pay licensing fees. Nokia settled its dispute with the BlackBerry maker in December when the companies entered into a licensing agreement. HTC however, decided to continue its dispute with Nokia in various courtrooms.

"Nokia respectfully disagrees with the courts decision and we are considering our options," said Nokia spokesman Mark Durrant in an email. "As we said in May 2012, we took these actions to end HTCs unauthorized use of our proprietary innovations and technologies. A further 34 Nokia patents have been asserted against HTC in other actions brought by Nokia in Germany and the U.S. and we anticipate that we shall prevail in these. HTC must respect our intellectual property and compete using its own innovations," he added.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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