Is The Next iPhone Already In Patent Trouble?

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At the upcoming Apple event on September 12, the company is expected to release a new iPhone compatible with 4G LTE connectivity around the world. Yet, competitors such as Samsung and HTC are already warning Apple that if it releases a new iPhone with LTE connectivity, they will sue the company for patent infringements and will demand a sales ban in the U.S.

When it comes to 4G LTE connectivity, smartphone makers have accumulated patents over the years in order to be prepared for any patent lawsuit. As Apple has not released a 4G phone yet, it is late to the game. Competitors want to take advantage of the situation and prevent Apple from releasing a 4G LTE iPhone.

Apple already released the iPad with LTE connectivity back in March. HTC accused Apple of two patent infringements targeting every Apple LTE device and demanded a sales ban in the U.S. Apple requested to quash HTC’s U.S. patents. But Businessweek reported that U.S. International Trade Commission Judge Pender would not proceed with the request without evidence.

HTC acquired those LTE patents in April 2011 before releasing its first LTE phone, the HTC Thunderbolt. Of the original accusation of eight patent infringements, only two are still considered as valid by the International Trade Commission. Apple is trying as much as possible to avoid going any further in the lawsuit.

Samsung, on the other hand, is continuing its global legal battle against Apple. “It’s true that Samsung Electronics has decided to take immediate legal action against the Cupertino-based Apple. Countries in Europe and even the United States — Apple’s home-turf — are our primary targets,” said a senior Samsung employee to The Korea Times.

Apple considers that issue very seriously, as the company recently acquired a lot of patents related to LTE. According to the Korea Intellectual Property Office, while it had zero patents last year, it now has 4.9 percent of total LTE patents, compared to 12.7 percent for Samsung.

Patent-based lawsuits are certainly not ending soon.