updated 07:20 pm EDT, Fri June 22, 2012
Similar to FRAND suits against Motorola, Samsung
Thursday afternoon, Apple filed a lawsuit charging antitrust claims and "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory" (FRAND) abuse on standards-essential patents against rival smartphone maker HTC in a Virginia court. The counterclaim, which involves patents covering the "4G" LTE protocol, comes in the middle of an ITC investigation into Apple filed by HTC. The patents have been described by HTC itself as standards-essential in its complaint against Apple last summer, and claimed in court that Apple devices contain baseband chips that implement the LTE standard, thus proving the standards-essential nature of the HTC-held patent in question.
This counterclaim is similar to the FRAND claims that Apple has filed against both Motorolaand Samsung. According to Apple, HTC "purposefully evaded any obligations to license under FRAND terms, a course of conduct HTC continues even as it participates in work on evolution of these same standards," leading to Thursday's FRAND complaint. The patent isn't native to HTC -- they were acquired from ADC Telecommunications in 2011.
Apple claims that HTC is in breach of contract based on standards-related misconduct, has committed fraud with attendant conspiracy to commit fraud, illegally restrained import trade, violated Virginia state antitrust laws, and violated monopoly clauses of the US antitrust law. MacNN has contacted the courthouse, and can report that the full text of the complaint will be available sometime next week to the public.
Apple's FRAND counterclaims against Samsung withstood two motions to dismiss in the Northern District of California, and are key topics at this summer's trial in front of Judge Lucy Koh. Apple's counterclaim versus Motorola has recently begun in the Western District of Wisconsin. A court date has not been set for Apple's complaint in Virginia.