Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Nokia suing Vivo in two German courts over standard-essential patents--despite limited market presence--and Vivo countersuing Dusseldorf

[Erratum] Originally, the Dusseldorf case was listed as a Nokia v. Vivo case. It is, however, a countersuit by Vivo. [/Erratum ]

Market size is one of several factors attracting patentees to Germany. However, the direct economic impact of a patent injunction is a function of the revenues and profits a party is actually generating in the relevant geographic market. Conventional wisdom would, therefore, not really suggest that a patent holder should sue Vivo in Germany. The Chinese company is among the world's largest handset makers owing to its tremendous success in a number of Asian markets, but generates only about 1% of its worldwide sales in Europe--of which Germany is just one market, so unless Vivo's European presence is more or less confined to Germany, we're talking about a fraction of a percent of its global sales.

In March, Nokia's patent litigation campaign against Vivo became known. And indeed, the first jurisdictions in which some Nokia v. Vivo cases surfaced were India and Indonesia, with IAM reporting on a Chinese rate-setting action that Vivo had initiated.

But the three major German patent infringement courts have now informed me of a number of cases brought by Nokia against Vivo (Munich and Mannheim) and a countersuit by Vivo (Dusseldorf):

  • Munich I Regional Court

    • Case no. 21 O 2816/22 over EP3396868 on a "method and apparatus for conveying antenna configuration information" (also being asserted against OPPO and OnePlus in Munich) (trial date: February 8, 2023)

    • Case no. 21 O 3172/22 over EP3457586 on a "method and apparatus for conveying antenna configuration information via masking" (granted in September 2021) (trial date: February 8, 2023)

  • Mannheim Regional Court

    • Case no. 2 O 36/22 over EP2981103 on an "allocation of preamble sequences" (last week, the same panel of the Mannheim Regional Court--under Presiding Judge Dr. Holger Kircher--held a Nokia v. OPPO trial over this patent) (trial date: February 7, 2023)

    • Case no. 2 O 37/22 over EP2087626 on "additional modulation information signaling for high speed downlink packet access" (Nokia is also asserting this one against OPPO in Mannheim) (trial date: March 14, 2023)

    • Case no. 2 O 65/22 over EP3220562 on n "allocation of preamble sequences" (same patent family as EP'103, which was mentioned above; therefore, same trial date)

  • Dusseldorf Regional Court

    • And a countersuit by Vivo against Nokia (presumably targeting its base stations):

      Case no. 4b O 25/22 over EP3618530 on a "resource mapping method for demodulation reference signal, base station and computer readable storage medium" (granted in October 2021) (trial date TBD)

The substantial overlap between these patent assertions and the ones against OPPO (and its affiliate OnePlus) may lead to cost-saving synergy effects on Nokia's side. Still, the scope and scale of the German part of Nokia's patent litigation campaign against Vivo is counterintuitive.

I'll try to find out if there are even more cases.

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