In light of the coronavirus crisis, I double-checked with the Munich I Regional Court's (Landgericht München I) press office and found out that the Nokia v. Daimler standard-essential patent ruling scheduled for this week's Thursday (April 9) has been pushed back to May 20, 2020.
The court did not cite any particular reason for the postponement. A postponement of a ruling date is not unheard of in complex cases, and this is a big one in every respect. It's always better if courts take their time than to rush to judgment.
Without speculating on whether this has anything to do with corona, it's simply a fact that the Free State of Bavaria has not imposed any new restrictions in more than two weeks. The current rules (social distancing, partial lockdown) will be in force until at least April 19, 2020. Presently, courts can hold hearings and trials they deem time-sensitive, and they are free to announce decisions, with the presiding judge of a given panel determining courtroom modalities such as a minimum distance to keep between any two persons.
What's more relevant now than court-internal reasons is the impact on parallel proceedings in other places. This gives the European Commission's Directorate-General for Competition (DG COMP) more time to decide on whether to launch formal investigations into Nokia's refusal to license automotive suppliers. DG COMP resumed its preliminary investigations last month after a couple of rounds of mediation had failed.
DG COMP won't necessarily be the only competition authority in the world to take a closer look at this in the near term.
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