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Talk of the Day -- HTC-Apple legal battle not 'zero-sum' game

2012/07/06 23:06:08

The patent battle between HTC Corp. and Apple Inc. has never been a "zero-sum" game, according to a senior executive of the Taiwanese smartphone maker.

Grace Lei, HTC's general counsel, said Thursday that the company, while endeavoring to enhance its patent portfolio, has never given up its efforts to hold dialogue with the U.S. consumer electronics giant on patent disputes.

As a U.S. federal court has ordered Apple and HTC to discuss a possible settlement to their patent disputes, Lei said legal personnel from both companies are scheduled to hold their first round of talks on the case in Delaware in September.

The following is an excerpt from the Friday edition of the Economic Daily News on HTC's patent battle with Apple:

Lei said she has not found any sign of a slowdown in Apple's patent battle against its business rivals after Tim Cook succeeded the firm's visionary founder Steve Jobs as chief executive officer.

In reality, Lei said, Apple has continued to ramp up patent battles with competitors.

"My observation is that patent battles in the smartphone sector could get even more ferocious," Lei said.

Against this backdrop, she said, HTC -- one of the world's major smartphone makers -- will continue to purchase patents to expand its portfolio.

"We will buy whatever patents we need to protect or boost our corporate interests," Lei said.

Apple began to file patent suits against HTC in 2010 and has since continued to take legal actions whenever HTC makes progress or launch new products.

Lei recalled that HTC received a notice about Apple's new patent suit against it shortly after Cook announced that Apple was willing to strike certain settlement with other companies to many of their patent disputes.

"We have spared no efforts to explore possibility of settling patent disputes with Apple," Lei said, adding that HTC will not give up any opportunity to dialogue or negotiate with Apple.

With deep pocket, Apple has typically retained a large legal team comprising more than 1,000 attorneys, patent engineers and legal counsels to deal with its patent suits, Lei said.

In comparison, she said, HTC's legal squad only has 70 members.

Given its relatively limited resources, Lei said, HTC has to adopt an elite strategy.

She stressed that HTC is willing to pay for needed patents. But she added that the company would not pay for unreasonable, unnecessary patents.

On Thursday, HTC hailed a victory over Apple after a London court ruled that the Taiwanese smartphone maker has not infringed on any patents belonging to the U.S. company.

"HTC is pleased with the ruling, which provides further confirmation that Apple's claims against HTC are without merit," the company said in a statement.

The litigation victory is expected to help HTC in its other patent cases in Europe, the Intellectual Property Office said.

In May, a U.S. federal court in Delaware ordered the lawyers as well unspecified decision makers of Apple and HTC to meet in Delaware in September to discuss a possible settlement to their smartphone patent disputes.

The talks will be moderated by Magistrate Judge Sherry R. Fallon. (July 6, 2012).

(By Sofia Wu)