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HTC's supplier allegedly stole microphone technology that it had produced for Nokia on contract

As the old saying goes, "When it rains, it pours."

Thus far it's been mainly stormy weather for struggling Taiwanese phonemaker HTC Corp. (TPE:2498), which saw its "hero phone", the HTC Onestymied by supply shortages.  Now just as HTC appears to be expanding its deliveries on the 1080p Android handset, it's been hit by another setback from a familiar foe.

A suit in the Amsterdam District Court, Netherlands has been filed against HTC and its microphone supplier, Geneva, Switzerland-based STMicroelectrics N.V. (EPA:STM), looking to block shipments of the HTC One.  And on Monday Nokia announced that it had won a preliminary injunction against the One, an injunction that it will look to mirror in other markets.

According to Nokia, it invented, engineered, and designed the microphones that are currently used (without permission) in the HTC One.  It said it had used the microphones in its own phones, but supplier STMicroelectronics funneled the technology to Nokia's Taiwanese rival.  

Comments a Nokia spokesperson; "HTC has no license or authorization from Nokia to use these microphones or the Nokia technologies from which they have been developed."
HTC BlinkFeed
HTC's microphone on the one was allegedly stolen from Nokia.
 
The microphone in question was billed by HTC as one of the phone's selling points.  HTC dubbed it a "dual membrane HDR".  Nokia felt this sounded suspiciously similar to the "high amplitude audio capture" mic that it designed for capturing subtle details of music or speech.  It took apart and HTC One and inspected the mic, allegedly finding evidence that its technology had been pilfered.

As virtually all handsets today are manufactured in China, a preliminary injunction -- a ban on shipments into a region -- has become a powerful litigation tool that multiple phonemakers have looked to use against each other, of late.

This is hardly the first time Nokia has been down this road.  A pioneering veteran in the phone industry, Nokia has filed around 40 cases against HTC, a relative industry newcomer.

HTC and Nokia are both vying for third place in the smartphone market.  Nokia is the biggest seller of Windows Phones, while HTC is among the largest Android phonemakers.

The injunction for now only blocks sales in the Netherlands.  But it represents yet another painful delay for HTC.  These delays have cost HTC a potentially head-start on Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KSC:005930) Galaxy S IV.  While HTC's unibody One is an eye-catching design, HTC has traditionally struggled to compete with Samsung in marketing.  Now it will have to do precisely that, even as it struggles with patent litigation.

Source: Reuters



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maybe it is just me...
By CaedenV on 4/23/2013 7:22:19 PM , Rating: 2
but wouldn't Nokia want to play nice with HTC? I love my L920 and all, but today HTC has a ton more recognition in the market than Nokia does (at least in the world of smart phones).

I am not saying that they look the other way, because obviously they need to protect their IP and all, but you would think that they could work something out. Something like "we will let you do this, but in return you will need to x" where x is either royalties, or a forced pattent lease agreement that starts affordable, but gets a bit rediculous down the road when HTC gets back on their feet, or something.

Every block of a sale of an HTC One is a win for the GS4, not a potential sale of a L920. L920 is a great and solid phone, but it is not a sexy phone like the One is. And people buying the One are looking for a high end Android phone, these are not people who are simply in the market for a generic high end smart phone.

Do what you can to help HTC today while profiting from it later, because helping HTC is the best thing Nokia can do to fight Samsung in the future.




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