Freshfields defeated as HTC wins patent victory over Apple

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Three New Square have lost a major patent battle for Apple after the High Court ruled that Taiwanese-competitor HTC did not infringe four of the company’s technologies.

Mr Justice Floyd ruled that three of the patents, including Apple’s ‘slide-to-unlock’ feature, were invalid, while the fourth did not apply to HTC devices. As a result, the iPhone maker cannot ban HTC products from being sold in the UK.

Freshfields IP partners Justin Watts and Chris Forsyth instructed Simon Thorley QC and Guy Burkill QC of Three New Square for Apple.

The team went head-to-head with Michael Tappin QC, Daniel Alexander QC and Richard Meade QC of 8 New Square for HTC. Counsel were instructed by Powell Gilbert partner Alex Wilson.

Freshfields has represented Apple in a number of high-profile patent spats, with Watts defending the company in a row with Simmons & Simmons client Samsung earlier this year (16 April 2012).

Yesterday’s decision found that HTC’s ‘arc unlock’ feature – a swiping concept used to unlock screens on HTC smartphones – was not based on Apple’s patent because it was an “obvious” improvement on a Swedish handset that HTC developers released in 2004.

Apple successfully defended its slider feature earlier this year, winning a court ruling against Motorola Mobility in Munich. Most recently the technology giant won a court ruling in the US blocking sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus phone in America.

Read more about Apple’s legal team in this year’s Transatlantic Elite report.