In sad proof that the U.S. is not the only market hobbled by an arcane and unnecessarily obtrusive patents system, Nokia has won an injunction in the Munich I Regional Court in Germany banning the sale of smartphones from Android-packing rival HTC nationwide.
According to the patents blog FOSS Patents, HTC is infringing on a 2oo5 patent (EP1148681 (B1) ― 2005-12-07, which, incidentally, does appear to be a genuine original Nokia patent, rather than one bought on a patent litigation fishing exercise) for a “method for transferring resource information” over NFC or Bluetooth. Naturally, an injunction enforcing a total nationwide sales ban on all products is completely proportionate to this infringement, rather than an injunction for, for instance, a software patch to disable the offending feature – which, in any case, hardly seems especially to be rocket science or fabulously advanced intellectual property. But the Munich regional court was having none of such arguments.
Also, as further sublimely ridiculous ramifications of the decision unfold, it appears according to ZDnet that HTC’s resellers and HTC-stocking carriers will still be able to sell the One and other devices. Only HTC itself is covered under the ban. Actual enforcement of the ban is pending Nokia posting a €400 million ($545 million) bond.
Nokia and its new owner Microsoft seem to be proceeding on the “if you can’t beat them, milk them” principle. Signs are that, rather than attempt to drive HTC devices, or all Android handsets, off the market, Nokia will simply settle for royalty payments on the supposedly infringing technology.
Exactly how Germany’s courts and lawyers feel about being used as sock puppets in these competitive tussles is not clear from the reporting so far. But it can hardly do the German patent system any credit.
HTC will certainly now move to appeal. Google has apparently recognized Nokia’s litigation campaign as an attack on the entire Android ecosystem, and moved to counter the ban – but, according to FOSS Patents, did too little too late.