Wednesday, December 29, 2021

InterDigital's German patent litigation campaign against OPPO: two cases filed in Munich, one in Mannheim

This is a quick follow-up to Monday's post on InterDigital v. OPPO:

I have been able to obtain the basic information that InterDigital has filed two complaints with the Landgericht M√ľnchen I (Munich I Regional Court) and one with the Landgericht Mannheim (Mannheim Regional Court). It is, however, difficult to obtain further information right now. In principle, the courts are operational, but many judges and their staff are on vacation. Also, I have not been able to find out more about InterDigital's filings in the UK and India yet.

InterDigital won a landmark anti-anti-anti-antisuit injunction ("A4SI") in Munich against Xiaomi earlier this year. Munich is now the #1 patent enforcement venue outside the United States, particularly when it comes to cases in which smartphones and connected vehicles are the accused products. The only potential risk factor is the appointment of a "dark horse" in the patent infringement context, Judge Lars Meinhardt, who will preside over the Munich appeals court's patent-specialized senate.

Mannheim continues to be very popular as well, as InterDigital's new complaint there shows--and from time to time there are interesting developments in Dusseldorf, such as a recent decision relating to standard-essential patent pools in favor of a defendant-counterclaimant (Turkish electronics maker Vestel) that I have yet to obtain a copy of so I can analyze and comment on it.

IAM has already reported and described that Dusseldorf ruling as "a significant setback for patent pools relating to the HEVC standard," though I believe there is actually one patent pool administrator whom the decision strengthens: MPEG LA, from whose HEVC pool some rather greedy patent holders broke away to form the Access Advance pool, a conduct that has the Dusseldorf court concerned. Again, I only have second-hand information on it for now (not just from IAM but from the Dusseldorf litigation community). I understand the ruling is well over 100 pages long, so it will probably take a few weeks (at least) until a redacted version becomes available.

FRAND decisions like in the Vestel cases are much appreciated by an industry seeking relief from ever more aggressive royalty demands, but they do lead SEP holders to avoid Dusseldorf and sue in Munich and Mannheim (and possibly even Hamburg, which I hear about more and more). There are no forcible venue transfers in Germany on forum conveniens or similar grounds, a fact that enables unfettered forum-shopping (and sometimes even judge-shopping by bringing follow-up complaints as "amendments" to complaints already pending before a particular panel, knowing that the new filing will be immediately severed but not reassigned unless a different division of a court already dealt with the patent previously).

For the avoidance of doubt, InterDigital is not among the SEP holders affected by the Dusseldorf rulings. The plaintiffs there are GE, Dolby, Philips, and IP Bridge. Another key defendant besides Vestel is Xiaomi, with various rulings scheduled for early next year.

Share with other professionals via LinkedIn: