Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been looking pretty hard at its LTE patent portfolio and has been trying to grow it as much as possible, but if it is going to have any significant impact in LTE with its new iPhone (due to be revealed Wednesday, officially), the company is likely going to have to deal with a few roadblocks. One potential one was already announced by Samsung Electronics, Co. Ltd., which has already stated that it is prepared to sue Apple for using some of its LTE patents for use in the iPhone, and now HTC has been fighting for its patents against Apple directly in a case that is before the International Trade Commission in the U.S.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) seems to be running an uphill battle against HTC, if preliminary feedback from the judge in the case is any indication. Apple is contending that some of the HTC patents are invalid because of the timing of the purchase of them, but the judge has indicated a likelihood that he would allow HTC to maintain possession of them, saying to Apple’s counsel, “I don’t care if they bought these patents to sue you or not.” HTC is suing on some of its LTE patents, on the claim that several of them have to be used by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in order for its iPhone to work on an LTE network, and that patent use was not officially requested or settled upon.
HTC bought the patents as part of a portfolio in April 2011, and very shortly thereafter sued Apple claiming a pre-emptive strike to protect its paents from “aggressive tactics.” Not all is rosy for HTC, however, as the judge has not granted HTC control over some of its patents that it bought from Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), saying there were questions regarding the agreement between the companies and whether HTC has full control.
However, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been warned that it will have to provide “clear and convincing” evidence that the HTC patents it’s challenging are invalid, and that there seems to be evidence in the other direction. “Clear and convincing means something to me. … I have to be pretty darn certain a U.S. patent is invalid,” said the judge.
This may have some bearing on the impending success of the iPhone, which may be big news for investors in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) – including hedge-fund manager David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital, who had an $849 million investment in Apple at the end of June.