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Judge's ruling on patent interpretation could lead to a ban on Android tethering

Posted: , posted by Alan F.

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Judge's ruling on patent interpretation could lead to a ban on Android tethering
A ruling by Judge Thomas Pender on how to interpret a Nokia patent was decided in favor of the Finnish manufacturer and could result in the banning of the tethering feature on Android phones. The patent involved is U.S. Patent No 5,884,190 on a "method for making a data transmission connection from a computer to a mobile communication network for transmission of analog and/or digital signals." With the ruling, it becomes more difficult for HTC to deny that it infringed on the patent during the ITC trial, which is set to start in two months.

Diagram from Nokia's patent
Google tried to get the judge to agree to a narrower "scope" of the patent, but failed. The Mountain View tech giant had hoped to be a co-defendant with HTC in the case and protect Android, but is only a third party intervenor. HTC can escape the charge if it can prove that they did not use even just one element of the patent. For example, Google was hoping to get the judge to accept its view that the patent required the connection involved to be connected to both analog and digital equipment at the same time, something that is not done with Android tethering. Instead, the judge said that "the device tests which network is available and transmits on that mode, whether the mode is analog or digital". 

Remember, the only thing that has been decided at this point, is how to interpret the patent involved. As we said earlier, the trial starts in two months and HTC and Google can try to claim prior art, which might be difficult since it would require finding some reference to thethering from the early 1990's. Or HTC could simply deny the infringement and if that fails, it can ask the 6 member ITC commission to overrule the judge. And if that fails, a ban on Android tethering could ensue. Or, as is most likely, Nokia will be receiving royalty checks from HTC. In case you're wondering, Apple and BlackBerry have already settled their legal difficulties with Nokia.

source: FOSSPatents

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