Friday, June 16, 2023

OPPO effectively defends 5G standard-essential patent against Nokia's opposition: EPO upholds claims based on minor clarification; Mannheim trial scheduled for 6/27

The patent spat between Nokia and OPPO is about two weeks away from its second anniversary. It became known this month that Nokia obtained injunctions against a dozen German resellers of OPPO and OnePlus devices. The parties' efforts to invalidate each others patents (not only the ones that are actually being asserted) are a major part of the earth-spanning dispute. Last month OPPO invalidated another two Nokia patents and a written decision in favor of Nokia's opposition to one OPPO patent came down as well.

This week, OPPO achieved something that might have paved the way for a Mannheim injunction against Nokia this summer. At the end of an opposition hearing held on Tuesday (6/13), the European Patent Office (EPO) upheld, with only a minor clarification added to the claims and the description, one of OPPO's patents-in-suit (click on the image to enlarge):

The patent-in-suit is EP3672346 on an "information transmission method, terminal and network device." The Mannheim Regional Court's Second Civil Chamber (Presiding Judge: Dr. Holger Kircher) will hear the OPPO v. Nokia infringement case over this 5G standard-essential patent the week after next (June 27 to be precise). That trial could get really interesting.

All that it took for OPPO (lead patent attorneys: Bardehle Pagenberg's Tobias Kaufmann and Dr. Patrick Heckeler) to fend off Nokia's opposition was the following insertion into the claim language as well as the first page of the description:

determining, by the terminal, that the time interval is not less than a preset time interval;

An interval defined by a standard is only meaningful if a minimum period of time is predefined. Presumably the relevant determination here is made by the end-user device, so I assume that this insertion is not going to change anything about the essentiality analysis. While OPPO has already exited the German market, I doubt that Nokia would want to do so, and that's why Nokia must defend itself against OPPO's offensive cases or it might have to settle before it gains decisive leverage in another jurisdiction.