Friday, September 4, 2020

Huawei's private antitrust action against Nokia over refusal to make component-level patent licensing offer likely to be referred to top EU court

This is going to be a short post--just a follow-up, for the sake of complete coverage, to yesterday's post on the Dusseldorf Regional Court's superstrong inclination to refer a Nokia v. Daimler patent infringement case to the Court of Justice of the EU, with the formal decision having been scheduled for November 12, 2020.

Right after that patent infringement trial, the same court also held an early first hearing in Huawei v. Nokia, an antitrust lawsuit in which Huawei is asking the court to obligate Nokia to make an exhaustive component-level standard-essential patent (SEP) licensing offer on FRAND terms. Huawei brought that case last year.

While Nokia was granted leave to file another pleading the week before Christmas, the most likely course of events is now going to be that the court will, even well ahead of Nokia's filing deadline, refer the question of component-level SEP licensing to the CJEU along with Nokia v. Daimler. Presiding Judge Sabine Klepsch indicated this much. It's unclear whether there will be a single referral with a common set of questions, or some limited overlap. Huawei's complaint was actually filed as a third-party counterclaim (Huawei is an indirect Daimler supplier), so this used to be the same case until the counterclaim over an entitlement to a licensing offer got severed.

This adds to what I wrote yesterday about history repeating itself. Apparently, Huawei is always involved as a party when the EU's top court gets landmark SEP cases. Then, they simply hold a huge and statistically strong SEP portfolio, and they implement SEPs in numerous ways, from smartphones and tables to automotive components to network infrastructure. Europe's top judges are not going to care about the parties. It's about the issues, and an overwhelming majority of the companies making smartphones, tablet computers, network routers, mobile infrastructure, automotive components, cars, and other IoT products will want Daimler and Huawei to defeat Nokia for good. Nokia will be able to count on support from Ericsson, Qualcomm, and some of the world's most infamous patent trolls.

Share with other professionals via LinkedIn: