Sunday, November 6, 2022

Huawei obtains German WiFi 6 patent injunction against Netgear: default judgment against NETGEAR Inc. of San Jose, CA

A little over a week ago, I reported on Huawei's WiFi patent enforcement actions against Netgear and its German competitor AVM. My further research into the dispute has resulted in a surprising revelation:

A spokeswoman for the Dusseldorf Regional Court has informed me that on September 27, 2022, a default judgment was handed down against one of the Netgear defendants, specifically against NETGEAR Inc. (of San Jose, California), though not against the other defendants, which is why it's called a "partial default judgment." The case no. is 4c O 8/22; the other case is no. 4c 9/22, but no default judgment is known in that one.

The trials (of both cases) are scheduled for March 21, 2023, so unlike the Motorola v. Apple default judgment of 11 years ago, which resulted from Apple's counsel not showing up for a Mannheim patent trial, this default judgment must be due to a failure to give notice of the intent to defend, or a failure to file a timely answer to the complaint.

Those Huawei v. Netgear cases are pending before the court's 4c Civil Chamber (Presiding Judge: Sabine Klepsch, who will also serve on the Unified Patent Court, but its Hamburg Local Division).

As Huawei is seeking an injunction, the default judgment technically amounts to a Germany-wide sales ban--and NETGEAR Inc. as the parent company of the entire corporate group can be held responsible for whatever its direct and indirect subsidiaries do in the German market.

Whether Huawei can actually enforce that default judgment is another question. In Motorola v. Apple, the Mannheim Regional Court set a new trial date as requested by Apple, and stayed enforcement until its final judgment. Here, there would be a considerable delay if Huawei had to wait until it could enforcement a judgment that would be rendered in the spring of 2023.

As I wrote in my previous post on that dispute, it's surprising that companies like Amazon, AVM, and Netgear--all of which have been making WiFi products for a long time--aren't licensed to what according to certain statistics is the largest and most valuable WiFi 6 patent portfolio. Also, as a large-scale implementer of WiFi (and other standards), Huawei is much less likely than some other WiFi patent holders to demand excessive royalties. In other words, Huawei v. Netgear is a mystery, and the fact that a (partial) default judgment has come down is another oddity that calls into question Netgear's handling of inbound patent licensing issues.