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IPCom GmbH & Co., a patent license manager, will get another chance to defend one of its patents against HTC Corp., the world's largest maker of Android phones, thanks to a recent ruling of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.
Holding that a lower court judge was wrong to invalidate IPCom's patent concerning mobile-device base stations, the Federal Circuit remanded the case back to the judge to consider additional arguments on the patent's validity.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia had granted summary judgment for HTC because it held IPCom's claims were indefinite since they concerned both an apparatus and method steps, which violated Federal Circuit precedent prohibiting hybrid claiming of apparatus and method steps. The Federal Circuit, however, held that the lower court's claim construction was erroneous and, based on the claim language and specification, it only covered an apparatus.
IPCom offers patents for global licensing on behalf of the patent holders, effectively acting as a bridge between mobile communication patent developers and patent users. It is seeking royalties from a family of mobile-technology patents that it acquired in 2007, including the patent in question which covers a way to maintain phone service as you move from one coverage area to another. It is also reportedly suing German stores that sell HTC's 3G mobile phones.
The Federal Circuit has been kept busy in the smartphone patent wars, as various consumer electronics behemoths like Apple and HTC and smaller tech companies play lawsuit-hot-potato.
Another patent-infringement trial is just another drop in the bucket in the ongoing war.