Apple is preparing to launch a relatively smaller tablet device in a few months as it tires to maintain its edge in an increasingly crowded tablet market.
Unnamed sources on Thursday were cited as saying that component parts manufacturers had been ordered to gear up for mass production of the tablets in September, indicating the launch may be close.
It said the new tablet’s screen would likely be smaller than eight inches (20cm), compared to the 9.7-inch (25cm) screen on Apple’s market-leading iPad, launched in 2010.
Apple has dominated the market for tablet computers since the release of the iPad but faces increasing competition as Samsung, Amazon, Microsoft and Google roll out competing devices.
The high court in London on Wednesday found HTC did not infringe on Apple Inc’s photo management patent while deeming three other Apple patents – for slide-to-unlock, multi-touch and multilingual keyboard capability – invalid.
In an 80-page ruling the court ruled Apple’s “multi-touch” patent was invalid partly due to “obviousness over common general knowledge”. Multi-touch refers to the ability to touch a screen with for example two fingers at a time.
“HTC is pleased with the ruling, which provides further confirmation that Apple’s claims against HTC are without merit,” the company said in a statement.
“We remain disappointed that Apple continues to favour competition in the courtroom over competition in the marketplace.”
HTC touts its own brand of smartphones and also makes handsets for a number of leading US companies, including Google’s Nexus One.
An Apple spokesman declined to comment on a specific case but added “we think competition is healthy but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours”.
Patent lawsuits are a regular occurrence among technology giants and Wednesday’s ruling was among a string of legal defeats for Apple in recent months.
A Dutch court last month ruled Apple had infringed on a patent held by South Korean rival Samsung and ordered the US firm to pay unspecified damages.