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back to article Turn off the mic: Nokia gets injunction on 'key' HTC One component

Nokia has said it bagged a court injunction in Amsterdam that effectively prevents HTC from using the microphones that are a "key" component of its HTC One smartphone. The Finnish phone maker won a preliminary ban on the mikes, made by ST Microelectronics, stopping the firm from selling them on to HTC or anyone else. "In its …

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Stop

Wait a minute

If the microphone is genuinly good and contains stuff designed by Nokia, this may actually be a story about patents working the way they should.

I think I need to lie down.

Of course Nokia may have simply patented using a microphone in a mobile to record stuff.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wait a minute

http://www.androidcentral.com/htc-injunction-will-not-affect-current-one-phones-new-mic-design-progress

Nokia has NOT obtained an injunction in The Netherlands, or anywhere else, against the HTC One.

The Dutch proceedings were brought by Nokia solely against STM. HTC was not sued by Nokia in the Netherlands.

The Dutch injunction prohibits STM from selling certain microphones to any company other than Nokia for a limited period.

The judgment against STM states that HTC can continue to use microphones already purchased from STM in its products, because they were purchased in good-faith. Nokia's attempt to obtain a recall of microphones already sold to HTC failed.

HTC will transition to improved microphone designs once its inventory of STM microphones is exhausted.

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FAIL

Maybe HTC could focus on

bringing what customers want, instead what they wanted to push, they'd sell a lot better? The crap mic doesn't matter.

I still think HTC has solid build, but the stupid copying Crapple no SD card policy, is a really killer.

Nokia, well, that company died long time ago.

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Re: Maybe HTC could focus on

Eadon,

I believe Nokia have got $10bn in their cash-pile. Or perhaps, given where they're from, hoard would be be the word... So they've got enough cash to dump MS and go the Android route, if they fancy a last throw of the dice.

One of their problems is that it's not just smartphones where they're failing. From the figures I saw a while back they only made half their phone profits from smarties, and the other half from the larger number of cheap dumb-phones. That's before Elop joined. The Chinese had finally caught up with their brilliant supply-chain and started beating them on price a few years ago, and I'd guess one of the reasons they went with Elop and Windows may have been that they wanted some higher profit smarphones to counter the loss of the dumb-phone market share, and they saw MS as the better chance to achieve that than Android or fixing Symbian / Meego.

As for their hardware being a generation behind, I think that's utter bollocks. They may be using lesser chips than the top 'Droids and iPhones, but most of that stuff is bought in anyway. They can always put in better ones and faster RAM if required. But Win Pho doesn't seem to need the top hardware, MS may actually have written some decently efficient code. Although it may equally be that there aren't enough demanding apps to make the multi-tasking in WP8 break sweat. I've not played much with WP8, so I've no idea how it handles heavy loads of simultaneous running apps.

Also, they've got some excellent camera hardware/software. Possibly some of the best amongst the mobile lot. That may even be a reason they dump Windows. If MS don't make OS changes that allow them to do their full Pureview goodness, I'd have though Android would be a more flexible option.

The phone is killing off the mp3 player, I don't see any reason why it shouldn't kill the cheap compact camera market as well, in a few years. Obviously if you want a big lens, then it's bridge cameras of SLRs you need - but if you can have a 3x zoom fold out lens on a tiny camera, why not on a phone? Or if the Pureview thing means you can get almost as good results without, then so much the better.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe HTC could focus on

Talking bullcrap as ever Eadon.

Name a phone that has the following:

High brightness and sensitivity touch screen.

Qi Charging.

Mechanically stabilized camera.

High amplitude mic (they record concerts with no distortion).

There's only one, the Nokia 920. You call this behind the times?

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Pint

Re: Maybe HTC could focus on

@I ain't Spartacus - How long did it take you to type that?

I hate to say that's however long of your life you're not getting back. Trying to make Eadon see outside his little Microsoft-hate-bubble is like trying to teach a whelk the trombone. Doesn't matter about the actual merits and flaws of the system/situation/whatever - if Microsoft or anything associated is involved, you can guarantee it'll be "wah wah wah WHATEVER FAIL".

Pint - because you've earned it trying. But in future, save your intelligence for others who are willing to consider both sides of the story, mate!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe HTC could focus on

"I hate to say that's however long of your life you're not getting back. Trying to make Eadon see outside his little Microsoft-hate-bubble is like trying to teach a whelk the trombone."

Eadon might not be capable of learning, but I am, and as I know nothing about smartphones - still using an ancient Motorola dumbphone that does all I need - posts like I ain't Spartacus's are useful to me.

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Happy

Re: Maybe HTC could focus on

RyokuMas,

It would be worth many hours of my life of pointless blathering if I could see a whelk playing the trombone.

There's also the story from Greek myth to consider. The thief who promises he'll teach the king's horse to sing in a year, in order to avoid the death penalty. When challenged on the impossibility of this he say, well I get to live a year longer, and who knows, maybe the horse will learn to sing.

I suppose the other proverb is that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him think.

Anyway, as soon as I'm convinced (yet again) that Eadon is a 16 year-old troll in the stereotypical mother's basement, he posts something sensible - or gets into an intelligent discussion. Maybe he's amanfrommars AI's emergency backup personality (now I want you wrap up nice and warm, and no playing with any naughty bug-eyed monsters), or a Microsoft shill with a better grasp of psychology than most people in marketing - who knows? We can but try.

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Coat

@Sparticus: Re: Maybe HTC could focus on

Or, in this case, you can lead a horse's ass to water, but you can't make him think.

There. Fixed it for you.

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Re: Maybe HTC could focus on

> As for their hardware being a generation behind, ... They may be using lesser chips ... They can always put in better ones

No they can't. With WP7 and WP8 MS dictated which specific SoCs they would support and even dictated which OEMs would deal with with SoC makers. The OEMs (such as Nokia) do not have the ability to change the code to support different or better chips. Those that MS wrote for were chosen over a year ago and thus are falling behind the leading edge, with no sign of newer ones becoming available.

Apple control their own hardware and software and release new models with the latest designs of chips. Android makers have the software and can write their own drivers and modify it to suit the absolute latest, or for completely different architectures.

WP makers must rely on MS getting around to coding for new stuff, one day.

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Re: Maybe HTC could focus on

> Mechanically stabilized camera.

It is not "mechanically stabilized", that implies a mechanism as used by camera makers such as motorized optics. The 920 has its camera spring mounted.

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Re: Maybe HTC could focus on

> but if you can have a 3x zoom fold out lens on a tiny camera, why not on a phone?

You mean like this from 2010 ?

http://pda.photoscala.de/Artikel/Kamera-mit-Telefon-Altek-Leo

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Mushroom

Re: @Sparticus: Maybe HTC could focus on

"Or, in this case, you can lead a horse's ass to water"

What does a horse's donkey have to do with anything?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe HTC could focus on

"It is not "mechanically stabilized", that implies a mechanism as used by camera makers such as motorized optics. The 920 has its camera spring mounted."

I would say a spring mounted camera is a mechanism of sorts...

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Anonymous Coward

@Richard Plinston (Re: Maybe HTC could focus on)

It seems to me that having a camera spring mounted is indeed a form of mechanical stabilisation. I think the point that you are trying to make is that it uses passive rather than active stabilisation, which wasn't even discussed.

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Anonymous Coward

Oops

Replying to the wrong person. The person my reply should have been directed to was Anonymous Coward.

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Re: @Richard Plinston (Maybe HTC could focus on)

> It seems to me that having a camera spring mounted is indeed a form of mechanical stabilisation.

It may be mechanical, but the question is: is it 'stabilization' or merely 'damping'.

The HTC One, on the other hand, has a real mechanism. Comparison videos don't show much difference, but that is because both only work over a very limited range and each image of a video is taken with the camera pointing at a different place as the operator walks. On average the results will be much the same. The actual differences should show up in the sharpness of each individual image.

Any stabilization system will try to steady the image for a short time but then will get to some limit and have to return to a neutral position.

With springs some images will be better and some will be worse as the springs will not know when the image is taken. It may be when the lens is stable, it may be when the lens is bouncing back.

With the HTC One shifting the sensor, the system should know when the image is being taken and activate stability for the duration of that and then return to neutral between shots.

It may be that with the 920 it does take great shots, but it also takes rubbish ones (as the spring bounces back to the neutral point) but those are discarded and never shown.

For taking videos a completely different system is required for getting stablity and that is holding the complete camera pointing the same way for each image and also not bouncing up and down as the operator walks. Neither camera has any way of doing that.

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Re: @Richard Plinston (Maybe HTC could focus on)

"It may be mechanical, but the question is: is it 'stabilization' or merely 'damping'."

Damping is a form of stabilisation.

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Trollface

Re: Microsoft - sorry Nokia - on the patents rampage

EADON IN BLOCK CAPS SHOCKER

Maybe your tin-foil hat needs adjusting?

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FAIL

Re: Microsoft - sorry Nokia - on the patents rampage

Thanks for your use of CAPITAL LETTERS. That really helped you to get your point across.

Oh...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Microsoft - sorry Nokia - on the patents rampage

@Eadon - Just for a change, please could you try to write a positive comment about FOSS, rather than the constant stream of anti-MS bile.

If you like FOSS and want to support its adoption this would be your best course of action, the constant ill informed ranting about MS and the total absence of positive comments in FOSS related stories doesn't support the FOSS movement in the way you seem to think it does.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Microsoft - sorry Nokia - on the patents rampage

Again talking crap.

Nokia invents something, gets a 3rd party to manufacture it for them. Said 3rd party manufacturer sells these parts to another vendor illegally.

Nokia owns the design, it did not licence the technology to ST Micro to produce for OEMs.

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@silver starred eadon Re: Microsoft - sorry Nokia - on the patents rampage

Would you mind sharing your total upvotes and downvotes?

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Re: Microsoft - sorry Nokia - on the patents rampage

> Nokia invents something, gets a 3rd party to manufacture it for them. Said 3rd party manufacturer sells these parts to another vendor illegally.

It seems to me that this is a contract issue. There is a contract between Nokia and ST Micro. There is _no_ contract_ between Nokia and HTC.

Nokia are suing the wrong people, but probably don't care, they might even win. They probably don't want to sue ST micro because then their supplies would disappear.

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Anonymous Coward

@Jamie Jones: Eadon's Votes

Totals at the moment

Up 8215

Down 9854

(I used wget, DOS .bat files, sed ported to Windows, and MS Excel. Just to rub salt into the wound.)

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Thumb Up

Re: @Jamie Jones: Eadon's Votes

Thanks for the windows-crunching, anon!

Seems Eadon has been quite a busy boy!

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WTF?

"The microphones represent innovations known at Nokia as "High Amplitude Audio Capture", the company claimed, adding that they allow users to record music "that sounds as good as when you first heard it"."

Hmmm. Who exactly writes / believes this rubbish?

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Actually, this not a patent issue. HTC didn't just copy the technology. They actually used the same hardware component (the same microphone), that was based on a Nokia design:

See this picture showing the component:

http://www.blogcdn.com/www.engadget.com/media/2013/04/htcnokiainjunction.jpg

Nokia had an NDA with ST electronics about this component, and ST seems to have failed to follow the terms of the NDA.

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Anonymous Coward

It's called RichRecording

If you didn't already know, it's called RichRecording. Best to go on youtube, find an example taken with Nokia's 808 PureView and then set the player to HD 1080p to see/hear for yourself how this works. It really is amazing tech, with plenty of hi quality examples taken from live concerts. The range on these mics is incredible (up to 160dB)...a huge improvement that rivals a purpose built device.

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Paris Hilton

Would the problem then be ST electronics?

Nokia: "Here's our tech, use it only in our phones."

ST: "Okay."

HTC: "We need a good mic, any ideas?"

ST: "Well, we have this one lying around..."

How was HTC to know that the component wasn't "freely" available?

Paris, because she sounds better on mute anyway.

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> How was HTC to know that the component wasn't "freely" available?

Ignorance isn't a defence. You need to ask.

Even if you did ask and were told lies I suspect you probably still lose the patent case, but you do have a good case against your supplier.

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It depends if HTC asked/pressured ST for it specifically, but yeah, ST should be feeling some heat from Nokia as well, certainly I'd be surprised if many tech firms trusted them to build kit for them for some time.

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Anonymous Coward

Have you heard it? It allows a phone to record sounds that the human ear would too, but an average phone would distort.

There's been lots of concert footage recorded on the 920 by people where it sounds pretty good. You could even hear people talking as well as the music.

http://www.slashgear.com/nokia-lumia-920-haac-rich-recording-microphones-confirmed-07246489/

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Anonymous Coward

Thank you for a proper posting about this issue, not some Eadon troll rubbish.

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Re: It's called RichRecording

I'll bet the music industry vultures are just going to love this! I suspect that given time, the bootlegs are going to be better quality than the stuff that the biz will be trying to flog us..

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re: Would the problem then be ST electronics?

Yes, RTFA.

But then ST can no longer supply HTC, so it also becomes HTC's problem too.

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Anonymous Coward

"Who exactly writes / believes this rubbish?"

Owning a Lumia 920, I can confirm that this is true. You can record live concerts with stupidly loud volumes, that sounds great, but come out massively distorted on other handsets like the iPhone for instance...

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Anonymous Coward

"How was HTC to know that the component wasn't "freely" available?"

Who cares, the injuction isn't against HTC.

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Copyright?

So Nokia have developed a phone mic that is perfect for making bootleg recordings of concerts etc, and they are now suing HTC so that only their phone is able to make these recordings.

I assume the music industry and film industry will now be suing Nokia for producing tools to copy their content.

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Re: Copyright?

Oh come on...

Tools are just that: tools. The fact that a device can be used to record a concert doesn't mean that it's infringing copyright. The person using the tool bears the responsibility.

There are many loud social occasions where you would want non-distorted audio capture (110 dBA is easy to reach if someone is shouting and cheering very near to your mic), few would involve copyright infringement. Sporting events (amateur or otherwise), parties, motorsport, funfairs are a few that come to mind straight away.

The best reading of the situation is that STE have made a huge mistake; the worst is that HTC have stolen another company's work without compensating them. The part is Nokia's design, even the packaging is the same. STE, as manufacturer, had no right to sell the parts to a third party, any more than Foxconn could start selling iPads to a white-label rebrander. The contract they made with Nokia would have made this very clear.

It's bad news, because the HTC One is a nice phone - HTC should not have taken this risk - and this is why I suspect it's STE's failure, not HTC's. Nokia are within their rights to pursue HTC for compensation, or have sales blocked until they change the part (which they are going to do).

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Anonymous Coward

@Kristian Walsh

"Oh come on... Tools are just that: tools."

As is, evidently, Gordon861.

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Re: @Kristian Walsh

""Oh come on... Tools are just that: tools."

As is, evidently, Gordon861."

I think you are being unfair to Gordon. He didn't say any sane group would justly sue Nokia, but that the music and film industry might.... And you only have to look at their track record...

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Could anybody explain...

what is special about the 'high amplitude microphone'? I was under the impression that decent microphones were around for a while and the availability of a high-powered processor capable of handling multiple microphone sources should allow trivial enhancements even in the small form factor of a phone. So what is special about this microphone to give Nokia a valuable patent?

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Go

Re: Could anybody explain...

I'm not hugely up to date with these things but my understanding is that something about it's design allows it to tolerate and record much louder sounds without distorting, this allows the user to make perfect recordings in what would normally be very problematic for anything except high end recording kit. A poster above mentioned that it can faithfully record up to 160db which in anyone's book is bloody loud...

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Re: Could anybody explain...

Human hearing has approx 130 dB of dynamic range. Microphones with good audio quality at this kind of range are expensive, and too large to mount in a mobile phone.

A compromise (used by just about everyone else) is to use a less sensitive microphone, with 100 dB of range, but this means that loud sounds will cause it to distort. Alternatively, it can be mechanically damped so that it will not distort at high volumes, but then you lose the ability to detect softer sounds because the microphone diaphragm is now too resistant to movement.

Nokia's idea was to use two mics, one damped one for high level sounds, and another undamped one for lower level, and use some clever signal processing to mix these dynamically. A different version of the technology uses one diaphragm (with, I suspect, a non-linear amplitude response), and better signal processing to re-form the sound signal afterwards.

It is clever, and it does work. That's why they got the patent. But this isn't about patents... HTC didn't use the method to make their own part; it seems that their supplier, STElectronics, supplied HTC with the *exact* part that they were making on Nokia's behalf. That's not patent infringement, it's breach of contract and possibly theft (STE were making these for Nokia, and Nokia alone, so the components were not STE's to give to HTC).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Could anybody explain...

Obviously, what they need to do is follow the model of the human ear: a sensitive mic, with a mechanical damper that can be actuated at need, like the human tensor tympani muscle.

Then, if somebody claims prior art.....

Oh wait. I forget the courts will allow people to patent things already in the human body.

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Happy

Re: Could anybody explain...

@Schultz The trouble with using small mics with a high maximum amplitude is that they either have a very high noise floor (i.e. they generate a lot of noise themselves, drowning out someone whispering, for example), or they simply don't respond to low level sounds because they're too heavy.

What nokia have done, it appears, is have a "high dynamic range" - that means it can capture both quiet and loud sounds. All whilst presumably not draining the battery by powering power hungry preamps, or by having to supply a massive phantom power voltage to the mic.

I'd like to see the patents actually - anyone got any links to the ones being argued about?

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