HTC just can catch a break. A German court granted an injunction on its handsets in Germany over a patent dispute.
The patents in question deal with voice coding technology owned by Acacia Research Group LLC, which is a patent-licensing firm based in Plano, Texas. The Mannheim District Court ruled in favor of Acacia on November 27, thus blocking sales of HTC handsets through Deutsche Telekom AG. The injunction is likely to take place later this month.
HTC is obviously very disappointed with the ruling and said in a statement that its planning to immediately appeal the decision.
The good news for HTC is that it only affects handsets sold through Deutsche Telekom AG, so it’s considered a partial sales ban. Unfortunately it’s unknown how much market share Deutsche Telekom represents versus other carriers in the country.
Acacia had similar disputes with Apple, Samsung, Amazon, Huawei Technologies, and others, but the company struck licensing deals with all of them. It’s possible that this ruling will force HTC’s hand to negotiate its own licensing deal, which will lift the injunction.
HTC has been struggling for the past few years. The company dropped out of the top 10 handset vendors in terms of shipments in 2013, and hasn’t figured out a way to get back on track. Its latest handset, the One A9, is one of the first non-Google handsets to guarantee software updates timely. However, it’s too soon to tell if it’s helping reverse the trend.
HTC does have a backup plan though. It hopes to capitalize on the growing virtual reality segment with the Vive headset next year. The company is also working on wearable and fitness-related products through a partnership with Under Armour. We expect to see those products next year as well.