Friday, July 23, 2021

Mannheim Regional Court schedules first three Nokia v. Oppo patent infringement trials for March and May 2022: one patent-in-suit carried the day against Daimler

Just like the previous post, which discussed a key decision in a standard-essential patent (SEP) case, this one relates to proceedings before the Mannheim Regional Court's Second Civil Chamber under Presiding Judge Dr. Holger Kircher.

The court's press office has been able to provide the case numbers, patents-in-suit, and trial dates of three Nokia v. Oppo cases. Nokia is suing Oppo in--if I didn't miss anything--seven countries. The dispute broke out three weeks ago after a multi-year patent license agreement expired.

In Germany, Nokia lodged complaints with three regional courts: Mannheim, Munich, and Dusseldorf. Interestingly, Nokia filed almost as many in Mannheim alone as in the other German venues combined. For three of those eleven cases, I've now been able to obtain the following data points:

  • Case no. 2 O 73/21 over EP1700183 on a "method for secure operation of a computing device" (apparently non-standard-essential), trial scheduled for May 3, 2022;

  • case no. 2 O 73/21 over EP1704731 on a "method and apparatus for indicating service set identifiers to probe for" (a WiFi patent, potentially standard-essential), trial scheduled for May 31, 2022; and

  • case no. 2 O 75/21 over cellular standard-essential patents EP2981103 and EP3220562 on an "allocation of preamble sequences", trial scheduled for March 29, 2022.

The '103 patent--one of the two patents-in-suit in the third case listed above--won Nokia an injunction against Daimler last August. Daimler, Continental, and TomTom challenged the validity of that patent. While Daimler--as one would have thought--withdrew all of its challenges to Nokia patents after the recent settlement, Continental and TomTom are still active nullity complainants against many Nokia patents. Together with other suppliers, they're also pursuing EPO opposition proceedings against some other Nokia patents. But very shortly before the Federal Patent Court's nullity hearing on the '103 patent, Continental and TomTom withdrew their complaints. Also, there were some interesting developments regarding the Nokia v. Daimler case over the '103 patent in the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court, and I plan to take a look at the "remnants" of Nokia v. Daimler in the near term. For now, suffice it to say that the proceedings involving the '103 patent deserve some further analysis.

Early first hearings in at least some--if not all--of the seven cases Nokia brought against Oppo in Munich will likely be held before those Mannheim trials. The Mannheim court typically decides after one trial, while according to the Munich court's Patent Local Rules there is an early first hearing (remotely comparable to a U.S. Markman hearing on claim construction), subsequently to which both parties get the chance to further develop their argument, and judgments normally come down only after the second hearing, which is the actual trial.

In other Oppo-related news, patent licensing firm Sisvel today announced the settlement of a SEP dispute with Oppo. The parties agreed on a 3G/4G license. Another Chinese smartphone maker, Xiaomi (which is now selling more phones per year than Apple according to Bloomberg), took a license from Sisvel last month.

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