On both sides of the Atlantic one can watch interesting examples of "reverse protectionism":
Not only did this blog comment on the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division's intervention on behalf of a foreign-owned industrial-scale patent troll against Apple and Intel, but Reuters also noted that the DOJ "backs [a] prolific patent litigant in antitrust fight with Apple." ("Prolific" in the sense of three dozen lawasuits against Google and two dozen against Apple, to name but two major defendants.)
Meanwhile, over in Europe, the automotive industry--which accounts for roughly half a trillion euros in tax contributions in the EU and generates a €84.4 billion trade surplus for the EU--is still waiting for formal investigations of its antitrust complaints over Nokia's refusal to license automotive suppliers. The math just doesn't work for the case against the case against Nokia: on the bottom license, Europe has far more to gain from enforcing settled competition law (in Huawei v. ZTE, the Court of Justice of the EU held that every implementer of a standard is entitled to a license) than from letting Nokia off the hook only because of its role in 5G development and deployment.
Today, PaRR's Khushita Vasant reports that Daimler and Continental confirmed the receipt of new questionnaires from the EU Commission's Directorate-General for Competition (DG COMP), which PaRR considers a "reviv[al]" of those long-pending complaints.
Antitrust enforcement should simply be a question of legal merits. But the industrial-policy argument that some forces within the European Commission make in Nokia's (and, by extension, Ericsson's) favor just doesn't withstand even superficial scrutiny.
Three charts that I've quickly produced with OpenOffice Calc, relying on data points published on the Internet, show that the European Union would ultimately help Asian and American patent holders extract license fees from European product makers more so than it would strengthen Nokia and similarly-situated Ericsson:
According to the latest IPlytics figures, Nokia (including Alcatel-Lucent) owns 8.63% of all 5G declared-essential patent families, and Ericsson 5.32%. That's a total of 13.95% for the only two European companies on the list--all others are American and Asian patent holders:
Therefore, no matter how much (over)compensation those two licensors--Nokia and Ericsson--may be able to obtain, the EU economy will remain a net licensee in the greater scheme of things.
Europe's automotive industry dwarfs Nokia and Ericsson with respect to investment in research and development. According to ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers Association), "EU automotive investment in R&D has increased by 6.7% to reach €57.4 billion annually." Macrotrends says "Ericsson research and development expenses for the twelve months ending December 31, 2019 were $4.107B, a 8.3% decline year-over-year." Statista shows that Nokia's R&D spend is also in decline, down to €4.41 billion. Here's a column chart (click on the image to enlarge):
Finally, it's also interesting to compare the number of jobs in the EU's automotive industry (ACEA: "13.8 million Europeans work in the auto industry (directly and indirectly), accounting for 6.1% of all EU jobs") to the entire population sizes of the two countries whose "national champions" hold 5G patents (click on the image to enlarge):
The underlying patent licensing issue affects more than the automotive sector. There's an emerging Internet of Things industry, and countless European IoT startups are simply not equipped to deal with end-product-level SEP licensing but could make highly innovative products if the wireless chips they incorporate into their products were exhaustively licensed.
Share with other professionals via LinkedIn: