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HTC suspends all UK smartphone sales

The decision comes after a patent infringement claim was set in motion against the firm

Taiwanese consumer electronics firm HTC has taken steps to halt the sale of its smartphones in the UK amid a patent dispute with research and development firm IPCom. Its handsets are currently all listed as “out of stock” on the HTC website, with sales of the recently launched HTC Desire 12s also suspended in the UK market.

The decision comes during an ongoing row with IPCom, which filed a patent infringement claim against HTC regarding its use of a specific wireless technology for car phones.

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HTC first landed in hot water back in 2012, with the UK High Court ruling that the firm had infringed upon an IPCom patent. The smartphone manufacturer then promised to sell its phones in the UK only with a court-approved workaround, so as to avoid infringing further upon the patent.

IPCom conducted tests on the Desire 12 in a German R&D lab earlier this year, with the results failing to show that the agreed-upon workaround had been implemented. HTC’s decision to pull its smartphones from the UK market comes as the firm takes further steps to explore whether it is or is not infringing on the patent, as IPCom alleges.

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This is not IPCom’s first foray into the world of patent infringement disputes; the mobile communications intellectual property and R&D specialist is currently embroiled in a spat with Chinese firm Xiaomi with regard to its use of the very same patent.

Meanwhile, the dispute comes as another blow to HTC, for whom business has not been booming in recent years. The company sold a hefty chunk of its smartphone division to Google in 2017, while Carphone Warehouse and major mobile networks O2 and EE had, prior to the altercation, stopped selling HTC phones on their platforms. HTC has since relied on Amazon and its own website to sell products, although the dispute has prompted it to halt sales on the latter. Its phones are still available for purchase on Amazon.

HTC’s range of other products, including its 5G router and virtual reality headsets, are still available to buy in the UK.

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