(Adds HTC comment, details)
By Tarmo Virki
HELSINKI, April 25 Finland's Nokia
and Taiwan's HTC won a key European ruling that a
patent of German firm IPCom, which was threatening sales of
their phones in Germany, was invalid in its current form.
Wednesday's ruling by the European Patent Office was a rare
spot of good news for Nokia, which is struggling with dwindling
sales and credit rating downgrades in recent weeks. Nokia said
it meant it could continue selling products in Germany.
IPCom said it would immediately appeal against the ruling
and that its patent 100A, which standardises a cellphone's first
connection to a network, was valid until there is a final
decision on the appeal.
"Today's judgment does not impact the successful rulings
regarding infringement proceeding against Nokia and HTC in
Germany and UK," it said.
IPCom acquired Bosch's mobile telephony patent
portfolio, which was created between the mid-1980s and 2000 and
includes about 160 patent families worldwide.
Those patents, including 100A, include some key technologies
for the wireless industry.
Several top phone makers have signed a licensing deal with
IPCom, but HTC and Nokia have challenged IPCom's patents in
courts across Europe.
Nokia and IPCom have been fighting in several courts for
around five years over the patents and Nokia has said IPCom's
licensing fee demands are excessive and unjustifiable.
"IPCom needs to recognize its position and end its
unrealistic demands," Paul Melin, vice president, Intellectual
Property at Nokia, said in a statement.
HTC - whose German retailers IPCom has sued for patent
infringement - said it was pleased with the ruling and said it
hoped it would end the long patent fight.
"This ruling undermines IPCom's licence infringement claim
against us. We trust IPCom will now reconsider its opportunistic
dispute with HTC and withdraw its legal action against us," the
Taiwanese company said.
(Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Keiron Henderson and