More Bad News For Mobile Maker HTC As Haptics Company Immersion Applies To Restart Patent Litigation & Push For Damages

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As if smartphone maker HTC doesn’t have enough to worry about in an Android space so saturated with Samsung-branded hardware it’s driving HTC’s sales back to 2010 levels. But now the Taiwanese company is facing the prospect of having to fork out for damages if haptics company Immersion gets its way. Immersion, which counts Samsung among the licensees for its “touch feedback technology”, had been content to stay a U.S. lawsuit against HTC — in order to wait for the completion of an International Trade Commission investigation into whether HTC has been infringing some of its patents. But, given HTC’s recent performance in the mobile space, Immersion has decided this strategy is no longer appropriate and today said it plans to ask for the stay of its lawsuit to be lifted — so that it “may prosecute its claim against HTC for damages immediately”.

The ITC action was originally scheduled for “final determination” on October 28, 2013 — after which Immersion may have been able to secure an exclusion order against HTC preventing infringing devices being imported into the United States. But with HTC’s fortunes in the doldrums, Immersion reckons it can get a better outcome via the U.S. District Court route, where it can win damages, attorneys’ fees, and potentially injunctive relief.

“Given HTC’s recent performance in the mobile market, we believe an exclusion order preventing HTC from importing infringing devices would no longer be an impactful win, and we are turning our energies to seeking damages for past and ongoing shipments of infringing devices,” noted Immersion CEO Victor Viegas in a statement.

Immersion filed its original complaint against HTC (and also Motorola) with the ITC on February 7, 2012, alleging infringement of six U.S. patents relating to the use of haptics technology — namely: 6,429,846 (“the ’846 patent”); 7,592,999 (“the ’999 patent”); 7,969,288 (“the ’288 patent”); 7,982,720 (“the ’720 patent”); 8,031,181 (“the ’181 patent”); and 8,059,105 (“the ’105 patent”).

A multi-year license for Immersion’s haptics technology signed by Samsung last week included a patent license covering “Samsung’s prior and future use of simple forms of haptic effects, sometimes referred to as Basic Haptics, in its smartphones and other mobile devices”, according to the company.

Immersion, which was founded back in 1993, says it has more than 1,300 issued or pending patents in the U.S. and other countries.