1. Igor Nikolic has posted a paper on ssrn titled Alternative Remedies for Standard Essential Patents Disputes. Here is a link to the paper, and here is the abstract:
2. Georg Nolte and Lev Rosenblum have posted a paper on ssrn titled Injunctions in SEP Cases in Europe. Here is a link to the paper, and here is the abstract:
The possibility to seek and obtain injunctions for the infringement of Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) is limited in both the US and the EU. The reasons for restricting the use of injunctions is due to concern of patent holdup, i.e. the possibility of SEP holder to force standard-implementers to accept onerous licensing terms, exceeding patent’s true economic value, as well as seeing injunctions as incompatible with the commitment given by the patent holder that it will license its SEPs on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.
Limiting the use of injunctions by SEP holders may enable implementers to engage in a holdout, i.e. delaying taking a license for as long as possible, forcing the patentee to engage in expensive and protracted litigation in order to settle for below FRAND terms.
Instead of focusing on injunctions, courts may use some procedural remedies in SEP disputes to restore the balance between the interests of patent holders and implementers. Courts could, at the beginning of the trial, order the defendant to make interim payments into escrow, or provide another type of security, reflecting the value of SEP holder’s whole portfolio, and not just for the patents in the litigation. Once interim payments are in place, courts may separate patent and FRAND issue and try patent issues first, as such could provide parties a sense of the overall strength of the SEP portfolio. Courts may adjust the level of interim payments, after patent issues have been resolved, by setting the higher amount if most of the patents have been confirmed valid and infringed or, conversely, lower the amount if most of the patents have been found to be invalid and non-infringed.
Interim payments could therefore secure the interests of SEP holders and make holdout strategy more costly, while at the same time dispense the need for injunctions and mitigate the concern about holdup.
This paper discusses several public cases from Germany that deal with SEPs and FRAND and have been decided after the CJEU’s decision in Huawei v. ZTE. It starts with the patent law system and appeal possibilities in Germany, explains briefly the Orange Book decision, sets out some details of the Huawei decision and explains the questions sent by the Regional Court of Düsseldorf that form the basis of the CJEU decision. The paper also discusses the decisions or orders from the Regional Courts of Düsseldorf and Mannheim as well as the Higher Regional Courts of Düsseldorf and Karlsruhe that followed the Huawei decision. Although many open questions still remain, the Huawei decision has brought quite some clarity to the courts in Germany, setting out when a SEP owner can obtain an injunction while offering a safe harbor for licensees that seek protection from such an injunction. But still it is rather difficult for both parties to predict the outcome of a specific case.3. Peter Picht recently has posted two papers on ssrn that may be of interest to readers of this blog. The first is titled Unwired Planet/Huawei: A Seminal SEP/FRAND Decision from the UK. Here is a link to the paper, and here is the abstract:
With its decision in Unwired Planet (UWP) v. Huawei, Birrs J has not only handed down the first major ruling on SEP/FRAND issues in England but also decided a case that poses a number of questions which are key for this area of the law. Well aware of this, he has drafted a thorough and extensive opinion that is likely to have considerable impact – not only – on the development of EC law. Inter alia, the decision discusses the legal nature of an ETSI FRAND declaration; the question whether “FRAND” is a range or a single set of licensing conditions; the procedural component of FRAND; the existence of a qualified “unFRANDliness”-threshold below which competition law is not triggered; the sequencing of negotiation and litigation over FRAND licences; hard-edged vs. soft-edged discrimination; the role of “Comparables” for calculating FRAND; and the anti-competitiveness of offering a mixed portfolio of SEPs and non-SEPs.
The other is „FRAND wars 2.0“ – Rechtsprechung im Anschluss an die Huawei/ZTE-Entscheidung des EuGH („FRAND wars 2.0“ – Survey of court decisions in the aftermath of Huawei/ZTE), which is forthcoming in Wettbewerb in Recht und Praxis. Here is a link to the paper (in German), and here is the abstract (in both German and English):
German Abstract: In seiner viel beachteten Huawei/ZTE-Entscheidung hat der EuGH einen Rechtsrahmen für die FRAND-Lizenzierung von standardessentiellen Patenten (SEPs) skizziert. Viele Einzelfragen sind damit indes noch nicht geklärt, sie tragen zu einer weiterhin sehr regen Prozessaktivität in diesem Bereich bei. Der vorliegende Beitrag gibt einen Überblick über die gesamte im Anschluss an Huawei/ZTE ergangene Rechtsprechung, wobei die Entscheidungen deutscher Gericht eingehender besprochen werden, Entscheidungen aus anderen Ländern immerhin kursorisch. Zu den von den Gerichten (und dem Beitrag) näher erörterten Fragen gehören die Möglichkeit einer Erfüllung der Huawei-Anforderungen nach Einleitung des Rechtsstreits; die Verpflichtung einer Partei, ihre Huawei-Verhaltensanforderungen zu erfüllen, obgleich die andere Partei dies nicht tut; Zeitpunkt, Adressat und Inhalt der Verletzungsanzeige sowie der beiderseitigen Lizenzangebote; die Geltung der Huawei/ZTE-Vorgaben für Schadensersatzklagen wegen Patentverletzung; sowie der Umgang mit Patentverwertern, die SEPs durchzusetzen versuchen.
English Abstract: In its landmark decision Huawei/ZTE the ECJ has sketched a conduct-based framework for negotiating FRAND licenses regarding standard-essential patents (SEPs). Many details remain un-clear, though, and they keep fueling intense SEP litigation. This paper undertakes to summarize the decisions rendered by German courts in the wake of Huawei. Decisions by non-German courts are briefly listed as well. Among the issues that have kept courts busy are the questions of whether Huawei requirements can be fulfilled even though a lawsuit has already been filed; whether a party has to comply with Huawei in spite of the other party not doing so; how and when exactly the notice of infringement and the respective licensing offers have to be communicated; whether the Huawei-rules of conduct extend to claims for damages; and how patent assertion entities are to be treated in SEP litigation.4. Haris Tsilikas has published a paper titled Huawei v. ZTE in Context--EU Competition Policy and Collaborative Standardization in Wireless Telecommunications, 48 IIC 151 (2017). Here is a link to the article, and here is the abstract:
Collaborative standardization, an efficient and inclusive form of organized innovation under the auspices of standard-setting organisations (SSOs), has demonstrated significant technological achievements in the field of wireless telecommunications. At the core of collaborative standardization is a working balance of interests and incentives of all stakeholders involved, i.e. contributors of technology and users of standards, epitomized by licensing on FRAND terms. Standardization contributes to significant gains in consumer welfare, in the form of lower prices, more innovation and more consumer choice and convenience. At the same time, standardization fosters competitive markets, upstream and downstream. Public policy has not always been successful in accommodating collaborative standardization. The enforcement of Art. 102 TFEU by the EU Commission, for instance, reveals an underlying mistrust of the operation of markets in the context of collaborative standardization and a strong preference for court-determined FRAND terms. However, the recent CJEU ruling in Huawei v. ZTE provides strong incentives for private stakeholders to determine FRAND through bilateral commercial negotiations and as such it is a welcome shift in EU competition policy in collaborative standardization.