HTC ‘s Peter Chou is generally a rather softly spoken guy, happy to let his products do the talking for him. However, following a ruling against HTC in a patent battle with Apple, the Taiwanese chief executive has issued a warning to the Cupertino company.
Last week the International Trade Commission (ITC) made a preliminary ruling that HTC was infringing two Apple patents in relation to smartphones. HTC is set to appeal the decision, and Chou is fully confident it will win. "We have enough patents to make a stand," Chou told the BBC. He added that the “war” for smartphone dominance should be fought in the market place and not the courts.
The final decision of the full ITC panel, and not just one judge who made the preliminary decision, is due on 6 December. Chou’s confidence may stem from the recent purchase of S3 Graphics which is part-owned by HTC co-founder and chairwoman Cher Wang. While HTC is a large player in the smartphone market, it only holds a couple of hundred patents, making it very susceptible to patent lawsuits. However S3 Graphics holds 235 further patents, a couple of which Apple has already been found to be infringing upon.
To send Apple a message, Chou chose the medium of Chinese parable (as you do): "We all have been living in this village for a long time, making war. But one day this powerful man came and took all weapons and said these are my powerful weapons. But this war belongs to all and nobody has a right to ask other people to leave. "
"What it means," explains Chou, is "we started making smartphones before him... We don't want to copy anyone, we want to be a premium product. This world, this market is very big... is for all of us. Nobody should tell other people to leave and we should compete in the market place, let consumers decide... rather than in court."
The battle with HTC is just one part of Apple’s growing battle with Google’s operating system as a whole, and analysts are predicting a large patent war brewing between Apple and the entire Android ecosystem – which should be fun.