* IPCom says has sued German retailers
* IPCom won injunction against HTC almost 3 years ago
* Ruling became enforceable after HTC pulled appeal in Nov
By Christoph Steitz and Tarmo Virki
FRANKFURT, Dec 22 Patent firm IPCom has
sued German retailers for patent infringement for continuing to
sell phones made by HTC, the No. 4 smartphone vendor
A court in Mannheim, Germany, ruled in February 2009 against
HTC in a patent fight with IPCom, allowing an injunction against
sales of HTC phones using UMTS technology and setting a penalty
of up to 250,000 euros ($326,200) each time the injunction was
All HTC smartphones use UMTS technology.
In late November, a court in Karlsruhe, Germany, said the
injunction against HTC smartphone sales in Germany could be
enforced after HTC dropped an appeal.
IPCom said in a statement on Thursday that it sent 100
retailers cease and desist requests on Dec. 6, asking them to
stop selling HTC's 3G handsets by Dec. 20.
"Since this deadline has passed without any of the retailers
complying, IPCom has sued them for infringement of patent #100A
themselves," IPCom said, adding so far it has sued around 30
The legal battle could cost HTC millions of euros and hurt
its relations with retailers in one of its key markets.
The company sells around 2 million smartphones a year in
Germany, some 4-5 percent of the group's total, according to
research firm IDC.
"This poses another challenge for HTC in managing confidence
of key distribution partners -- a further reminder of the
destabalisation effect patent claims threaten to exert on the
industry in 2012," said Geoff Blaber, analyst at research firm
HTC was not immediately available to comment.
It has said the battle would have no impact on its business
in Germany because the injunction covered only one HTC handset -
which is no longer sold in Germany - and it has also modified
its implementation of the UMTS standards.
The ruling does not mention any particular model.
Earlier this week HTC lost a patent case against Apple in
the United States, the market generating half of its revenues,
but HTC said that it could soon replace phones with the disputed
technology with new models.
IPCom acquired Bosch's mobile telephony patent
portfolio, created between the mid-1980s and 2000, which
includes about 160 patent families worldwide, including some of
the key patents in the wireless industry, such as patent 100,
which standardises a cellphone's first connection to a network.
Several of the top phone makers have signed a licensing deal
with it, but HTC and Nokia have challenged IPCom's
technology patents in courts across Europe.
IPCom said by continuing to use its patents without paying a
fair compensation IPCom could in the future legally refuse HTC a
licence for its standard-essential patents.
($1 = 0.7664 euros)
(Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Tarmo Virki; Editing by