Thursday, October 14, 2021

OPPO outperformed Daimler and its numerous suppliers in litigation with Sharp, will likely give Nokia a run for the money now

Like my previous two posts (also published today) on IP Bridge v. Ford and Thales v. Avanci & Nokia, this one stems from my research into high-profile Munich patent cases.

Six days ago, Sharp announced a global cross-license agreement with Chinese smartphone maker OPPO. In connection with the Chinese part of the dispute, the Supreme People's Court of the People's Republic of China had made an interesting jurisdictional decision. Sharp was suing OPPO over alleged infringements in Germany, and it appears that OPPO defended impressively well.

The Munich I Regional Court has confirmed to me that Sharp's complaint over EP2854324 on a "communication system and mobile station apparatus (case no. 21 O 3514/20) was dismissed: the patent was not found to be infringed by OPPO.

OPPO defeated two other Sharp complaints by prevailing on its own nullity actions in the Federal Patent Court of Germany:

  • EP2312896 on a "base station device, mobile station device and corresponding communication methods using carrier aggregation" was invalidated further to a nullity hearing on June 24, 2021 (decision (PDF, in German)). Sharp was asserting that patent in Munich (case no. 21 O 2917/20).

  • Sharp's Mannheim case no. 2 O 34/20 suffered the same fate: EP2154093 (same title as the aforementioned EP'896) died in the Federal Patent Court (decision (PDF, in German)) on July 8, 2021.

The remaining two Sharp v. OPPO cases had not been decided at the time of the settlement, but it appears that OPPO was in pretty good shape based on its invalidity arguments. This applies to EP2129181 , which Sharp was asserting in Mannheim case no. 2 O 52/20, and--which is absolutely remarkable, EP2667676 on a "base station device, mobile station device, and uplink synchronization requesting method." EP'676 won Sharp an injunction against Daimler last year, which triggered a settlement. OPPO, however, came up with new prior art, and it looks like Sharp preferred to settle with OPPO rather than take any risks with respect to that patent in Munich case no. 7 O 2919/20.

OPPO is going into its next--and much larger--dispute as an undefeated defendant.

Just like Sharp, Nokia sued Daimler before it brought patent infringement complaints against OPPO. Given OPPO's patent litigation track record, it's probably not going to be an easy win. It also appears that Nokia sued OPPO very shortly after the expiration of a previous license agreement, which is different from Daimler, whose behavior over the years was characteristic of an unwilling licensee, and ultimately inconsistent. There's no reason to assume OPPO would underperform Daimler this time. It's probably going to challenge Nokia's patents-in-suit with greater sophistication than Daimler; it won't be easily portrayed as an unwilling licensee; and unlike Daimler it holds many wireless patents and is already known to be countersuing. This is going to get interesting, admittedly more interesting than I thought when it started back in July. Bring the popcorn!

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