HTC Drops Stolen HDR Mic Technology from "One" Flagship Smartphone
May 2, 2013 10:21 AM
Judge in Netherlands says HTC didn't realize supplier stole technology so HTC can use up existing mic stock
In a somewhat unusual move, HTC Corp. (
) has seemingly conceded it made a mistake in terms of intellectual property and has dropped a key feature of its
HTC One smartphone
The company had contracted Geneva, Switzerland-based STMicroelectrics N.V. (
) to provide a higher quality microphone to it. The result was a "dual membrane HDR", which promised to capture subtle details of audio and speech, similar to bulkier studio mics of the past.
But it was discovered in teardowns by Nokia Oyj. (
) that STMicroelectronics
had apparently stolen the mic technology
used in Lumia phones from Nokia. Nokia dubbed the patented technology "high amplitude audio capture".
While HTC may have been an unwitting party to this apparently blatant theft and transfer of intellectual property, it was still struck by a Nokia trade lawsuit in the Netherlands. Nokia was eyeing to roll out the ban in other regions, including the U.S. if HTC didn't act.
The HTC One'
Instead of fighting Nokia's claims, it appears HTC has conceded the fight, dropping the mic altogether.
HTC also clarifies the nature of the Netherlands ban in a statement, commenting that
misreported on the lawsuit, and that it was not sued. The suit only applied to STMicrolelectronics. And while the HTC One might have been banned if it had willfully continued to buy and use the microphones, it was allowed to use up its existing stock as the Netherlands judge said that HTC was unaware of the IP theft.
In light of several misleading stories regarding a recent injunction obtained by Nokia against STM (a supplier of components to HTC in The Netherlands) HTC looks to clarify the following points:
• Nokia has NOT obtained an injunction in The Netherlands, or anywhere else, against the HTC One.
• The Dutch proceedings were brought by Nokia solely against STM. HTC was not sued by Nokia in the Netherlands.
• The Dutch injunction prohibits STM from selling certain microphones to any company other than Nokia for a limited period.
• The judgment against STM states that HTC can continue to use microphones already purchased from STM in its products, because they were purchased in good-faith. Nokia's attempt to obtain a recall of microphones already sold to HTC failed.
• HTC will transition to improved microphone designs once its inventory of STM microphones is exhausted.
HTC appears to be relatively responsible in trying to promote patent cooperation between companies. Despite the controversial nature of software/user interface patents, it
pays royalties on every smartphone to Apple
, Inc. (
) for patented software technologies which its interface resembles.
"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes
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