Monday, February 10, 2014

Samsung, Google lawyers to represent patent licensing firm in tomorrow's $2 billion Apple trial

It's too early to tell how much, if any, of IPCom's $2 billion damages claim in Germany Apple will ultimately be ordered to pay. But even before the trial begins, a long list of German patent litigation and prosecution firms is sure to benefit from this litigation and IPCom's other standard-essential patent (SEP) disputes. Oddly and admittedly, this applies to me by extension: I'm going to watch the trial on behalf of a law firm and its clients, who will get my internal report (I promised a certain degree of exclusivity, so I won't be able to blog about it, at least not about the core FRAND issues in the case).

IPCom's previous assertions of the patents-in-suit were heard by the panel Judge Andreas Voss ("Voß" in German) presides over. The Presiding Judge of the Mannheim Regional Court's Second Civil Chamber (panel), Judge Dr. Holger Kircher, will be in charge of tomorrow's trial. Judge Dr. Kircher hears many patent infringement cases and saw some of these lawyers only recently in connection with the now-settled Nokia-HTC dispute. Initially I thought he was rather plaintiff-friendly in one particular SEP-related context (Motorola v. Microsoft), but later I saw him dismiss and stay a number of Nokia lawsuits (though he also sided with Nokia on two patents). I don't doubt anymore that he's balanced. He's always very well-prepared and usually makes clear at the very beginning of a trial which side faces a steep challenge. I believe IPCom may very well be able to convince him of its infringement theories, but even if so, I doubt that he can be persuaded to award $2 billion in damages over a single FRAND-pledged SEP.

Just because it shows how many lawyers IPCom keeps busy, I wanted to quickly put together this list of various firms and lawyers known to be involved with either this case or other cases involving the same patents-in-suit, and to mention some of their key clients. This list is, despite its length, non-exhaustive. IPCom's litigations are, effectively, the German Patent Attorneys and Litigators Full Employment Act.

Courtroom 1 of the Mannheim Regional Court will be "overlawyered" tomorrow with half a dozen firms involved with that particular case and various others keeping an eye on developments that may be relevant to their own IPCom cases.

In alphabetical order (by firm):

Bird & Bird (Nokia): Nokia and IPCom have been embroiled in litigation for more than five years. At several IPCom trials I saw Oliver Jan Juengst ("Jüngst" in German) defend Nokia. He also represented Nokia in a couple of offensive cases against HTC, one of which resulted in the last Nokia win over HTC before last week's settlement.

df-mp (PCom): Patent attorney David Molnia, who has dual American-German citizenship, prosecuted the patents-in-suit initially and defended it throughout various nullity and opposition proceedings. I also saw him at various IPCom infringement trials.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Apple): Dr. Frank-Erich Hufnagel and Wolrad Prinz zu Waldeck und Pyrmont fended off, at least for the time being, all seven Samsung lawsuits against Apple in Germany, five of them over SEPs. A few months ago they also won a stay of a rate-setting lawsuit brought by Google (Motorola). Tomorrow they are going to face some of Samsung and Google's lawyers, who also do a fair amount of work for IPCom, once again. Given their perfect track record, it's no surprise that Apple keeps relying on them here.

Frohwitter Intellectual Property Counselors (IPCom): Bernhard Frohwitter, the founder of this firm, is also a shareholder and chief executive of IPCom. He advised and represented Bosch in connection with its wireless patent portfolio. After Bosch had exited the car phone business, Mr. Frohwitter raised capital from U.S. private equity investors to acquire those patents. Frohwitter attorney-at-law Dr. Roman Sedlmaier coordinates IPCom's worldwide litigations (with cases pending on three continents, so he spends a lot of time on airplanes and has acquired an in-depth cross-jurisdictional understanding of patent enforcement), and patent attorney Jan Gigerich is involved with IPCom's prosecution and nullity/opposition proceedings. They both did a fair amount of work on the EPO opposition proceeding that resulted in last month's affirmance of the "#100A" patent in a narrowed firm. Ten years ago the two also authored recommendations for the City of Munich in connection with patent infringement risks relating to the city administration's use of the Linux operating system and other free and open source software.

HengelerMueller (IPCom): Dr. Wolfgang Kellenter is IPCom's lead outside counsel in Germany. He also appeared on Samsung's behalf at some German SEP trials, where he focused on FRAND issues including the implications of the European Commission's investigation of Samsung's pursuit of injunctive relief over SEPs for the German infringement proceedings and remedies.

Hogan Lovells (HTC): Dr. Martin Chakraborty will presumably watch tomorrow's proceedings in his role as HTC's lead outside counsel in Germany. He has been defending HTC against IPCom for several years. While Nokia won four patent infringement cases against HTC in Germany (in all of which HTC was represented by Hogan Lovells, though only in one of them -- which resulted in the highest bond ever ordered in connection with a German patent injunction -- by Dr. Chakraborty personally), he and his colleagues fended off 18 (!) other Nokia lawsuits in Germany, an unprecedented number.

Hoffmann Eitle (Ericsson): Dr. Georg Siegert represented Ericsson at the recent EPO hearing on the "#100A" patent. His firm's clients include Apple (Dr. Thomas Koch is on Apple's team in various Samsung cases), but it appears that Hoffmann Eitle is working exclusively for Ericsson in this context.

Krieger Mes (IPCom): Axel Verhauwen, who has also represented (very successfully so) different contributors to MPEG LA's multimedia patent pools in Germany, is on IPCom's legal team in some of the Nokia and HTC cases. It appears that he is not involved with the Apple FRAND damages matter. He did represent Samsung against Apple in two SEP cases.

Quinn Emanuel (IPCom): Internationally, this is the most famous firm on the list. It also represents Samsung and Google's Motorola against Apple -- in the U.S. as well as Germany, where it handles all Motorola litigations and represented Google against Microsoft and as an intervenor in various Nokia cases. The firm also appeared on Samsung's behalf as co-counsel in all of its Apple cases and as lead counsel in a couple of non-SEP matters. The head of QE's German offices, Dr. Marcus Grosch, has been representing IPCom in Mannheim, his home court, for several years. He is now also building QE's presence in Munich, the European patent capital. For what I know, he will be joined at tomorrow's IPCom v. Apple trial by Dr. Nadine Herrmann, Motorola's lead counsel in the Apple FRAND rate-setting case, and Jérôme Kommer.

Samson & Partner (Apple, Nokia): This well-known firm -- specifically, its founder, F. R. von Samson-Himmelstjerna, Dr. Tobias Stammberger and Dr. Oswald Niederkofler -- are traditionally Nokia's lead patent counsel in the German IPCom cases (and were also involved with various Nokia-HTC matters in Germany, where they helped Nokia offensively as well as defensively).

Wagner & Geyer (HTC): HTC's patent attorneys in the German IPCom cases are Eric Emde and Dirk Carstens.

I said before that this list is non-exhaustive. In some IPCom cases there have been numerous intervenors. Also, IPCom brought varous lawsuits against wireless carriers and retailers. Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile) settled with IPCom last year. T-Mobile was represented by leading patent litigation firm Reimann Osterrieth Koehler Haft, which also represented Nokia in various HTC cases (as well as in some Apple cases in 2010/2011, contributing very significantly, if not decisively, to the 2011 Nokia-Apple settlement). Vodafone has not yet settled with IPCom. It also opposed the EPO's decision to grant the "#100A" patent, the patent on which IPCom's $2 billion damages claim from Apple is based.

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