Wednesday, June 13, 2012

HTC v. Apple - ITC Dismisses Five "HTC" Patents

FOSS Patents had an interesting article: ITC doesn't allow HTC to assert Google's patents against Apple -- Rent-a-Patent model fails. Apple's opening move? HTC, you don't have the right to sue! How embarrassing it must be to hear the judge agree. Specifically, Apple filed a motion that eliminated five of eight patents HTC asserted against Apple in the ITC. The administrative law judge (ALJ) ruled HTC lacked standing (the right to sue) because Google failed to transfer "substantial patent rights" to HTC.

Mr. Mueller suggests the dismissal impacts the HTC v. Google ITC proceeding and the patent aggregators. The first point is right, but patent aggregators shouldn't see a standing issue if they take action based on what can be learned from this case.

As to the HTC v. Apple ITC proceeding, Mr. Mueller notes that (1) Apple is unlikely to have to defend itself against the five dismissed patents, (2) an appeal against this dismissal is unlikely to succeed, and (3) Google could join as a complainant with HTC, but this would escalate the Apple-Google conflict. Further, Mr. Mueller notes that Google was not making phones at the time the complaint was filed so may not be able to join as it would not satisfy the domestic industry requirement.

Mr. Mueller suggests the limitations and restrictions in Google's agreement show Google's support for the Android ecosystem has "clear limits." I don't have a copy of the agreement, but Mr. Mueller must be kidding about the clear limits!

As to patent aggregators, Intellectual Ventures and RPX allow their members to "check out" a patent in order to bring a counterclaim. Mr. Mueller suggests this may raise standing issues, but amending the language of the agreement to transfer substantial rights should eliminate any standing issue as long as the patent is not already in litigation.

Copyright © 2012 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.