Friday, August 5, 2022

Nokia wins two patent injunctions against OPPO in Munich (on top of two previously-granted Mannheim injunctions): Apple may be next in line

There was good news for OPPO this week with respect to one VoiceAge EVS patent, but the Munich I Regional Court adjudicated two Nokia v. OPPO patent infringement actions today--and found for Nokia in both of them.

Nokia has now won four out of four German patent cases against OPPO: two each in Mannheim and, just today, Munich. In all of these cases, injunctions have come down, and the question is now whether the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court (for the Mannheim decisions) and the Munich Higher Regional Court will allow Nokia to enforce--or stay enforcement pending the appellate proceedings. For the law firm of Hogan Lovells, there is a lot at stake. They must fight hard now for enforcement stays or other Hogan clients--such as Apple--may lose faith in that firm.

Bird & Bird's IP practice group leader Christian Harmsen was Nokia's lead counsel in both cases, with Dr. Stephan Waldheim (also Bird & Bird) having handled the FRAND part.

Even if one or more of Nokia's injunctions got enforced, it is not a given that OPPO will settle: according to estimates, it generates only a fraction of a percent of its worldwide sales in Germany.

Today, the Munich I Regional Court's 21st Civil Chamber under Presiding Judge Dr. Georg Werner granted Nokia injunctions against OPPO over two standard-essential patents (SEPs):

  • EP2080193 on "pitch lag estimation" (case no. 21 O 8891/21) which is related to audio coding, and

  • EP3557917 on a "method and apparatus for providing efficient discontinuous communication" (case no. 21 O 8879/21), which is about a flexible allocation of resources with "keep awake messages" in discontinuous communications.

According to an official Nokia statement, the court "found that Nokia has acted fairly." It also deemed OPPO an unwilling licensee, as did the Mannheim Regional Court last month in a standard-essential patent (SEP) case. I didn't attend any of the FRAND discussions (the courtroom was sealed anyway) and don't know what royalties Nokia is seeking or what OPPO's counterproposal is. All I know is what the courts in Mannheim and Munich have concluded--and to the best of my knowledge, no SEP defendant has been deemed a willing licensee in those venues since the Federal Court of Justice decision in Sisvel v. Haier.

FRAND is not an issue in the WiFi non-SEP case, the first one that Nokia won against OPPO in Mannheim.

OPPO is a major 5G SEP holder and countersuing Nokia over true 5G patents, but it will take some more time before any OPPO v. Nokia cases are adjudicated.

While it is unclear what OPPO will do under these circumstances, pulling out of the German market would not be a profitable option for Apple. Apple, whose license agreement with Nokia is rumored to have expired very recently, has reasons to be worried now: