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HTC and Apple Settle Patent Disputes with 10-Year Peace Agreement

Steven Blum
6

 

If you ever want to read about patent legislation between HTC and Apple ever again, you're going to need to get into a time capsule and fly back a few weeks, because Apple and HTC have kissed and made up. On Saturday, HTC announced that the company had negotiated a 10-year liscense agreement with Apple, which covers current and future patents held by each company. That means no more litigation about search bars and swipe-to-unlock and all the other disputed features that are still unavailable to Samsung.

HTC representative Jeff Gordon told the Verge that the company "does not expect this liscense agreement to have any adverse material impact on the financials of the company," indicating that the deal wasn't as costly as one might imagine such deals to be.

But one big question remains, namely "why?" After Apple scored such a huge win over Samsung in California court, it doesn't follow that they'd give up so easily with HTC. But if you look at the issue closely, you'll see that the deal is actually beneficial for both companies.

From Apple's perspective, it simply doesn't make sense to go after HTC. Not only is it a much smaller competitor than Samsung but it utilizes a design language that would make a successful lawsuit unlikely. With the Galaxy S, Apple found a perfect target that they likely won't be able to find among HTC's current stable.

HTC is also small enough that any court win probably wouldn't result in too much money in damages being handed out to Apple anyway. Apple wouldn't gain too much in a lawsuit against HTC, but they could lose a lot – of time, money and even in the arena of public perception, should they lose. A big court case could result in free publicity for HTC.

Finally, you might want to consider the old adage "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" when thinking about the logic of this agreement. HTC now gets to use all of the Apple features that Samsung is barred from using, making them a trifle more competitive in the smartphone market. In Apple's eyes, any company that could challenge Samsung is a good friend to have.

Overall, this is a very surprising announcement and could pave the way for more agreements over time (next up, Motorola?). But Apple would be hard pressed to find an agreement with a partner more strategically important than HTC. While I would love to think that the patent wars will end tomorrow in more agreements like this, the truth is this is probably a one time thing.

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Comments

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  • Dvoraak Nov 12, 2012 Link

    I wonder if HTC gave up LTE rights in this deal. It's obviously a win for both parties and a loss for Samsung.

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  • Steven Blum Nov 12, 2012 Link

    I'm sure they did give up those rights. It is pretty great news for HTC, assuming they didn't pay TOO much for the agreement.

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  • Patrick R. Nov 12, 2012 Link

    Well, Apple had too little to gain going after HTC. Besides, HTC is a "minor" player and it will be quite a few years before they even think about catching up with Apple. I am also sure, Apple would want to kill all LTE challenges aside from Samsung's. The cost of litigation to defend against htc and Samsung would be the same so I am guessing they are gearing up to defend against Samsung's claims by making a cross license deal with htc and use the licenses they gain out of it in their defense. Good job on both Apple and htc.

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  • Dvoraak Nov 12, 2012 Link

    Poor Samsung. They've become my favorite horse in this race. So..... now I want to see Apple and HTC DESTROYED!!!!

    MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAH...... cough

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  • CJ Brown Nov 13, 2012 Link

    HTC is not as huge (& wealthy) a Corporate entity as Apple & Samsung ...


    I consider this a win for HTC (they're going to gain revenue from Apple); as well as Consumers (I'd rather these merit less patent lawsuits never occurred, I'd rather all that $ wasted on legal fees were used for "research & development"); and this is how I wish the Apple vs Samsung situation ended ...


    For the record, I have no <3 for Apple, I have a lot of <3 for HTC - but if they lose me to Samsung? It's due to the lack of top notch "no contract" HTC Android Smart Phones available (c'mon HTC, you have 3 months to put out @ least an HTC ONE 4G lte with 8 megapixel camera / 4.3 inch screen that is "no contract" 'cause that's when I leave Verizon behind) ....


    Yes. I'm still using a Droid Incredible 3G -


    C J

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  • Jon Kim Nov 14, 2012 Link

    Since apple will gain by having HTC on their side, they made up and friends now. If HTC was little bigger than who they are now, they would have to fight Apple. Just wait until you get little bigger HTC, apple will back-stab you.

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