Monday, April 12, 2021

European Court of Justice assigned case numbers to preliminary references in Nokia v. Daimler and Phoenix Contact v. Harting patent cases

In November, the Dusseldorf Regional Court decided to refer to the European Court of Justice certain questions of component-level licensing of standard-essential patents (SEPs) as well as questions regarding the application of the Huawei v. ZTE SEP injunction framework. In February, Nokia withdrew its interlocutory appeal of that order.

In January, the Munich I Regional Court's 21st Civil Chamber (Presiding Judge: Tobias Pichlmaier) identified a different patent-related question that it would like the top EU court to answer. The Munich court, which is clearly the most popular patent injunction venue in the world by now, would like to enjoy broader discretion in preliminary injunction decisions than its appeals court (which decides patent PI cases consistently with the appeals courts in Dusseldorf and Karlsruhe) allows. I translated that order.

Both preliminary references have been assigned case numbers by the CJEU:

  • C-44/21 for the preliminary injunction matter (Phoenix Contact v. Harting, Munich case no. 21 O 16782/20), and

  • C-182/21 for the SEP case (Nokia v. Daimler, Dusseldorf case no. 4c O 17/19).

It may seem counterintuitive that the earlier preliminary reference (the one from Dusseldorf) has a significantly higher case number than the later-filed one (the one from Munich). I've asked the Dusseldorf Regional Court's press office, and that court actually sent the preliminary reference to Luxembourg on November 26, 2020--about two months before the Munich court's preliminary reference. But apparently the CJEU, in an effort to avoid a potential waste of time, firstly awaited what would come out of Nokia's interlocutory appeal.

From what I heard, the translations in the automotive case will be sent to the governments of the EU member states and the parties later this month, with a likely deadline for the European Commission's, the EU Member States' and the parties' observation in early to mid August. I have not been able to find out about the timeline in the preliminary injunction case.

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