As part of his latest ruling in a patent dispute between HTC and Nokia, high court judge Richard Arnold has said he expects HTC's next flagship smartphone to arrive in the first quarter of next year. The handset could come as soon as February or March, according to Arnold, who based his estimate on evidence provided by Nokia in the case. HTC opted not to dispute the timeframe, which Arnold suggests lends further credence to the release window. Aside from the early 2014 launch, Arnold's ruling doesn't spill any additional secrets on the HTC One's proper successor. But the date is significant, as it factored into the judge's decision.

Sales of HTC's flagship will continue

Arnold ruled that HTC can continue sales of the One in the UK, despite the fact that the phone (along with the One Mini) was found to infringe on a 1998 patent held by Nokia. Arguing against a sales ban, HTC had insisted that an injunction — especially during the holidays — would be "catastrophic" for business. "HTC paints a dramatic picture of what will happen," reads Arnold's ruling. "I am bound to say that I am somewhat skeptical about this evidence given that HTC will shortly be launching its new flagship phone. Still Arnold says he accepts "there is a period between now and February or March 2014 when HTC is vulnerable" and agrees "the damage which HTC will suffer if prevented from selling the One during this period will be both considerable and very difficult to quantify."

The HTC One Mini wasn't so lucky, as Arnold agreed to issue an injunction against the smaller-sized handset unless HTC's application for appeal is accepted. "In this case the potential harm is more evenly weighted, but importantly the phone was launched much more recently and HTC designed and launched it at a time when HTC knew it was facing a claim for infringement of the patent."