HTC threatens ROM site with legal action

HTC is threatening legal action against Shipped ROMS, a website that shares a variety of phone ROMS, primarily those of the Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer.

On Thursday the webmaster of Shipped ROMS received a Cease and Desist e-mail from the Legal Counsel of the HTC Corporation, requesting that all HTC software and material be removed from the website, with a threat of further legal action should the people behind Shipped ROMS fail to comply.

The website, which carries the tagline “world’s largest collection of shipped ROMS” was only established on 11 May this year, showing that HTC does not wait long before springing into action. The Shipped ROMS guys do not charge for the ROMS they share, but they do have a donate button at the bottom of the page, which HTC’s legal team could argue amounts to profiting from the endeavour.

The e-mail from HTC stated: “We have very strong reasons to believe that the HTC Intellectual Property was illegally obtained by fraudulent means. The subject dissemination and publication of HTC’s Intellectual Property is in clear violation of HTC’s legal rights and is an infringement of the HTC’s copyrights, goodwill, as well as the other intellectual rights. The continuing distribution of HTC’s Intellectual Property without authorization has constituted a serious criminal offence under the Copyright Act in the U.S. and the EU and other countries where similar laws are enforced.”

The message said the Shipped ROMS website was causing HTC “irreperable harm” and asked for “all infringing works” to be removed immediately. It went on to say that if HTC has “not received an affirmative response from you within two weeks indicating that you have fully complied with these requirements, we shall take further legal action, and pursue all means necessary to protect HTC’s legal and equitable rights.”

Since receiving the letter it has not uploaded anything else, but has also not removed the offending ROMS. 

Update: Tommy Hoffman, of Shipped ROMS, got back in touch with us. He explained to TechEye:

“I plan to comply to HTC orders as best that I can. If they are asking for me to take down the entire site, I will try and work a deal with them. This is not something I want to do. This site has been a huge success with the XDA-Developers community. Through June 17 that site has had over 3.5 Terabytes of bandwidth, and 30,000 visitors.

“This shows me that there is a huge call for a site similar to this one. That was the reason I created this in the first place. I figured if I was mirroring files that were already available from various other sites and placing them all in one central location, it would be a benefit for everyone. I never expected something like this would happen like it already has. So I do plan to do everything I can to comply to HTC orders. I just hope they are not asking for much. I hope it does not come down to a legal battle. I really do not feel like I have the time or money to try and take on a multi-billion dollar company.

“I think this is a simple misunderstanding that I hope to get cleared up. I will be heading to the HTC America Headquarters next week to try and clear this up, and find out what steps I can take in the future.  Personally yes I strongly believe that users should be able to download these for free. These files have saved many devices that may have been unable to boot up.

“This past week I had someone at a news site doing a review on the new HTC Aria. Something happened to the device, and it was no longer working the way it should. What this person was able to do is download the correct file from Shipped ROMS and restore the device back to its original state. That was the reason for this, because mistakes happen, and software fails, but if you are able to restore to original factory settings, then you have no need to send this device in for repair.”