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Taiwan prepares fund to fight patent war

The fund comes in response to the patent dispute between HTC and Apple

A Taiwanese research institute plans to create a multimillion-dollar fund to help local technology firms fend off patent infringement lawsuits in response to the ongoing patent disputes between Taiwan's HTC and Apple.

Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) announced on Thursday the establishment of an intellectual property "bank," which will consist of a fund aimed at acquiring key patents in Taiwan and abroad. The fund will be set up as a private company this month, according to a statement from ITRI.

ITRI said the formation of a fund to protect patents has been an ongoing topic among Taiwan's manufacturers, but that recent patent disputes caused the research institute to further push for its establishment.

The biggest of those disputes is between HTC and Apple, which has filed multiple lawsuits against the Taiwanese smartphone maker for allegedly infringing on its patents. The legal action could ban HTC from importing phones to the U.S or force the company to pay damages to Apple.

HTC is a maker of smartphones and tablets that use Google's Android OS. But companies shipping devices running Android have been sued by Apple and Microsoft.

Along with HTC, Taiwanese PC makers Acer and Asustek Computer also make Android devices. The companies could not be reached for immediate comment.

An ITRI subsidiary, Industrial Technology Investment Corporation, will own the fund, which currently has NT$200 million ($6.9 million). ITRI wants to grow the fund through investment from other Taiwanese firms.

Previous news reports in Taiwan have said ITRI plans to use the fund to attempt to annul competitors' patents through lawsuits. The fund would also be used to acquire patents in mainland China, one of the world's largest markets. Taiwanese companies could then use those patents to try to block the sale of competitors' products in the country.

In a statement, ITRI said the approaches were typical among the companies' strategies to protect their intellectual property and that their effectiveness would depend on the situation.


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