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HTC, Apple patent deal unsealed, but heavily redacted

BusinessNews
by Chloe Albanesius, 07 Dec 2012News
HTC, Apple patent deal unsealed, but heavily redacted

The full, 143-page patent deal between Apple and HTC has been added to the record, and while most of it is heavily redacted, there are a few tidbits that provide some insight into how Apple and HTC will be conducting themselves over the next decade.

Last month, Apple and HTC announced that they had settled a patent battle that dated back to 2010. The deal means the two companies will dismiss all current lawsuits in favour of a 10-year licensing agreement.

The document was made public, meanwhile, because Samsung demanded to see it. Samsung is also battling Apple on patents - and has said it won't settle like HTC - but argued in court that it was only fair that it know what HTC was paying, and the judge agreed.

According to the document, that agreement touches on "cloned products." The filing points to the iPhone's slide-to-unlock prompt at the bottom of the screen as something that "could qualify as a distinctive Apple user experience; however, a different animation (for example, a bubble slider) or an animation at another location ... would not be considered substantially similar and would not constitute a cloned feature."

Functional features, like "pinch to zoom" will not be considered a distinctive Apple experience, the deal says.

If Apple suspects HTC for violating its patents, it must notify HTC within 30 days of a product's release on one of the top carriers in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Taiwan, China, Great Britain, or Germany. HTC has the option to remove the offending features, but the two parties must make "good faith" efforts to resolve their differences before taking it to court.

If all goes well, however, HTC will be making quarterly payments to Apple. However, it will offer no refunds if the deal falls through. HTC will retain all records of sales relating to technology that includes Apple patents for three years. If Apple requests an audit of HTC's files, HTC must comply within 15 days. Apple can only request one audit per year unless HTC was found to have underpaid by 10 per cent or more.

If HTC behaves, Apple will pay for the independent auditor. But if HTC is found to have underpaid by $25,000 (£15,573) or 10 per cent on the amount due, HTC must pay for the auditor.

If HTC acquires a company, meanwhile, the patent deal can apply to that company - but only if Apple is not already suing them. This means that Samsung will not be applicable.

Apple has also ordered HTC not to "materially assist in the assertion of patents in a specific suit, action, or proceeding against" Apple.

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