The issue here is that HTC needs patents to fight off the patent trolling of the steves (jobs and balmer). If S3TC gets freely implemented under an open source license with the blessing of HTC, then all the steves need to do to defang that patent is to publish the source to that very small subset of their code.
In fact, if you ASK HTC for permission, they will *DEFINITELY* say no. If you IMPLEMENT it after asking and being turned down, they MUST litigate to protect the validity of the patent. If you do NOT ask but DO implement it, they have the freedom to "turn a blind eye".