Judge reveals HTC One smartphone replacement

By Leo Kelion
Technology reporter

image captionThe HTC One is the Taiwanese smartphone maker's flagship device

A High Court judge appears to have revealed when HTC plans to release its next flagship smartphone.

Richard Arnold has published a ruling saying that a new model would be launched in the UK in either February or March 2014.

That would be just under a year since the HTC One's April release.

Phone manufacturers typically keep such details secret so far in advance of a launch so as not to discourage consumers from buying existing models.

A spokeswoman for the Taiwanese firm said she had no knowledge of any such plan.

However, the judge noted that Nokia had brought evidence of a first-quarter launch for the so-called HTC One Two to his attention during a patent dispute, and that HTC's lawyer had chosen not to contradict this, leading him to conclude the information was accurate.

The timing was important to the case as it helped influence the judge's decision that the One should not be banned from sale at this time.

No imports

Nokia has been seeking an injunction preventing the sale of several HTC phones following a ruling in October that the Asian firm had infringed one of its patents.

The case centred on an invention filed in 1998 for the design of a modulator - equipment used by phones to transmit data.

HTC had argued that it was not at fault as the tech had been included in a chip made by another firm - Qualcomm. But the judge ruled that it should have still paid Nokia licence fees.

In the latest ruling the judge agreed that several HTC phones should in theory be removed from UK shop shelves on Friday.

image captionHTC has promised not to import more models of the 8X and One Mini until an appeal is resolved

These include the firm's Android-powered One Mini and One Max - small and large versions of its main handset - as well as its Windows Phone 8X and 8S

HTC can prevent this from happening if its application for an appeal is accepted.

However, the firm has agreed not to import any more copies of the disputed handsets until a decision is taken, meaning there is the potential it could run out of stock.

Nokia had pressed for a sales ban to be imposed on the One - HTC's bestselling phone.

This would have been a major blow since the UK is HTC's biggest market in Europe and the Christmas period is one of its busiest for sales in the country.

HTC had claimed its use of the offending component did not warrant such "catastrophic" action - an argument that swayed the judge.

"HTC paints a dramatic picture of what will happen," he wrote.

"I am bound to say I am somewhat sceptical about this evidence given that HTC will shortly be launching a new flagship phone which cannot be assumed to infringe and therefore be caught by the injunction.

"Nevertheless, I accept that there is a period between now and February or March 2014 when HTC is vulnerable."

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