According to a report by Reuters, a judge from the International Trade Commission has issued a preliminary ruling that some HTC products, including the Inspire 4G and the Amaze 4G, infringe upon a pair of patents held by Nokia that deal with the transmission and reception of wireless signals by mobile devices.
That’s bad news for HTC, which is having a hard time gaining traction with consumers for its current generation of smartphones. The Taiwan-based manufacturer recently laid off staff at its U.S. division because of low profits, even while rolling out a major ad campaign featuring Robert Downey Jr.
It’s worth noting that Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s mobile business didn’t include the company’s patents (Microsoft licensed Nokia’s patents but didn’t acquire them) though any remedies issued by the ITC would certainly affect Microsoft’s business.
The full ITC panel is expected to issue a ruling on the case on January 23, 2014.
Blair Hanley Frank is a technology journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril.