Ruling Whittles Down HTC’s Patent Case Against Apple
If HTC thought its acquisition of S3 would be a handy club with which to beat down Apple’s patent infringement attacks, it best think again.
A U.S. International Trade Commission judge has ruled that some of Apple’s Mac computers do infringe two of the four patents S3 asserted against the company. But it also ruled that Apple’s iOS devices do not and that Macs running Nvidia GPUs have an implied license to use them.
In other words, the iPhone and iPad are no longer at risk for an importation ban if things go sideways for Apple in this case. And neither are any Macs protected by that implied license I mentioned earlier. Really the only infringing products at issue in the case are Macs with Intel GPUs. So, worst case scenario, if the ITC’s initial ruling should be upheld, Apple could presumably switch its Mac line over to Nvdia GPUs and dodge an ITC ban. Which significantly blunts S3′s helpfulness to HTC in its ongoing IP war with Apple, as Litigating Apple’s Matt Macari suggested last week.
“As S3 goes, so goes HTC — at least when it comes to using the S3 acquisition as leverage against Apple,” Macari, an IP attorney, wrote. “Such a turn in events would effectively put HTC back where it was before it purchased S3, forcing HTC to face Apple’s initial ITC win head on.”