Friday, December 2, 2022

BATTLEMAP: 17 months after Nokia sued OPPO, litigation is pending in 20 venues around the globe--either party has won some and lost some

When Nokia sued OPPO in early July 2021, I wouldn't have predicted that they were still going to be embroiled in litigation at this point. But they are. In fact, they are keeping 20 courts around the globe (19 infringement courts plus the USPTO's PTAB, but not even counting appeals courts) busy.

It's been about a decade since I last produced a battlemap of patent enforcement actions (as opposed to antitrust battlemaps such as in 2018). But the Nokia v. OPPO/OPPO v. Nokia patent dispute is so big that I thought it was worth the effort. Here it is, first as a PDF and then four images (click on them to enlarge), followed by a recap of the key events:

Nokia-OPPO: The patent battlefield as of 02 Dec 22 (four pages)

Page 1 (Germany):

Page 2 (Europe apart from Germany):

Page 3 (China):

Page 4 (Rest of the World, i.e., anything other than Europe and China)):

So the venues of this dispute include four infringement courts in Germany (plus the Federal Patent Court for validity challenges; it is not shown on the battlemap because it is the normal course of business to challenge patents in the Federal Patent Court unless they are young enough that one must first file an opposition with the patent office), six in other European countries, six in China, and one each in India and Indonesia--plus the PTAB as I mentioned further above. Temporarily there were cases in Russia, but they were withdrawn earlier this year for obvious reasons.

The battlemap always shows the last three digits (unless more are needed) of each patent-in-suit. In Europe, all of them are EPO patents ("EP"). You can just follow the lines all the way to each line's final arrow to see in which venues they are asserted against which companies or brands.

The first decision was that the Munich I Regional Court granted Nokia an anti-antisuit injunction (the same month that the dispute started, July 2021) on an ex parte basis. Jurisdictional issues were also raised in the UK. In November 2021, the High Court of Justice in London (formerly known and still often referenced as the England and Wales High Court) declined to stay the UK proceedings initiated by Nokia, but indicated a willingness to afford some deference to a Chinese rate-setting decision. OPPO appealed the denial of a stay, but the appeals court affirmed the lower court, and the UK Supreme Court declined to deal with the matter.

In September 2021, the Supreme People's Court (SPC) of the People's Republic of China affirmed a jurisdictional decision (over global FRAND terms) in an OPPO v. Sharp case. Nokia was not a party to those proceedings, but later (i.e., 2022), the same jurisdictional decision came down in OPPO v. Nokia.

In May 2022, the Munich I Regional Court held a first hearing (not yet a full trial) in an OPPO v. Nokia case. OPPO appeared likely to win that countersuit.

In June 2022, Nokia won a Mannheim case over a WiFi-related, but non-standard-essential, patent. The following month-July 2022--Nokia also obtained a SEP injunction in Mannheim. And another month later, in August 2022, Nokia won two SEP injunctions in Munich.

That same month, it became known that OPPO decided to also seek injunctions in Germany (sales bans on Nokia's base stations).

It all seemed to be going according to plan for Nokia, apart from an Indonesian court's dismissal of all four Nokia v. OPPO complaints before it (in July 2022), but then OPPO decided to exit the German market, not forever but indefinitely.

In September 2022, a Dutch court ruled in Nokia's favor over the same two SEPs that won Nokia the Mannheim injunction in July. OPPO had brought a declaratory judgment action in the Netherlands, and a finding of non-infringement and/or invalidity would have increased the chances of an enforcement stay in Germany. But Nokia brought infringement counterclaims and requested (and obtained) an injunction.

Nokia's first setback on the infringement litigation front was when the Dusseldorf Regional Court stayed two of its cases in August 2022. The same happened in Munich in September 2022.

In October 2022, Nokia felt forced to withdraw an infringement case in Mannheim, and it became known that the USPTO and the EPO doubt the validity of a key Nokia patent.

In late November 2022, the Delhi High Court deemed a motion by Nokia for interim patent royalty payments "fundamentally misconceived." Shortly thereafter, Nokia won a third Munich injunction, but on the same day the Dusseldorf court rejected a Nokia complaint (no infringement).

Yesterday (December 1, 2022), the Dusseldorf Regional Court stayed another Nokia v. OPPO case.

It's a monumental patent spat, and the entire industry now knows that suing OPPO or being sued by Nokia is not for the faint of heart...