在欧洲联盟法院华为诉中兴通信案判决后所做成的判例
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Updated 6 三月 2018

OLG Düsseldorf

OLG Düsseldorf
18 七月 2017 - Case No. I-2 U 23/17

A. Facts

The Claimant is holder of a patent declared as essential to a standard (Standard Essential Patent, SEP). The Defendant is a provider of telecommuni­cation services. Under the policy governing the relevant standard, the Claimant is obliged to license its SEP on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms and conditions. Against Claimant’s SEP a nullity action is pending. The Claimant, nevertheless, concluded portfolio licensing agreements also covering the SEP in question with two companies.

Since November 2012, the Claimant made efforts to license his SEP also to the Defendant. The parties could, however, not reach an agreement. In January 2016, the Claimant brought an action against the Defendant before the Regional Court of Düsseldorf requesting for a declaration of the Defendant’s liability for damages as well as rendering of accounts (main proceedings). After the main proceedings were ini­tiated, the Claimant made two offers for a license agreement to the Defendant. In order to protect busi­ness secrets connected with these offers, the Claimant requested the Defendant to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). The Defendant refused to sign a NDA. Moreover, the Defendant brought an action against the Claimant before an Irish Court requesting for a declaration that Claimant’s offers did not comply with FRAND.

Subsequently, the Claimant filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against the Defendant before the Regional Court of Düsseldorf. The Regional Court of Düsseldorf dismissed Claimant’s motion. The Claimant appealed this judgement. With the present ruling the competent Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf in­dicated that the Claimant’s appeal has no prospects of success.

B. Court’s reasoning

The court made clear that preliminary injunctions involving SEPs are subject to the same strict prerequi­sites as injunctions referring to non-SEPs. The SEP-holder has, therefore, to adequately establish the va­lidity of the SEP, its use by the alleged infringer as well as the urgency of its request for a preliminary injunction.

Besides this, prior to seeking for a preliminary injunction, the SEP holder also has to fulfill the require­ments set forth by the Court of Justice of the European Union in its decision in the matter Huawei ./. ZTE (Huawei judgement). This follows from the fact that SEP-holders’ claims for injunctive relief are, in prin­ciple, only enforceable, after the prerequisites established by the Huawei judgement have been fully met.

Since preliminary injunctions may severely affect alleged infringer’s ongoing business, such injunctions can only be granted, when both the validity and the use of the SEP by the alleged infringer appear to be given with a high degree of certainty.

The validity of a SEP is deemed to be given, when the SEP has been confirmed in patent opposition or nullity proceedings. Without a prior confirming decision, the validity of a SEP can, exceptionally, also be regarded as being given, when

  • the alleged infringer has unsuccessfully intervened in the proceedings, in which the SEP was granted,
  • no opposition or nullity proceedings were initiated against the SEP, because it is universally consid­ered to be able to receive patent protection (one indication for this being, for instance, the fact that the SEP was licensed to renowned licensees),
  • the objections raised against SEP’s validity can be proven to be unfounded even by the limited means of the summary examination foreseen in proceedings for interim relief, as well as
  • in “extraordinary circumstances”, in which the SEP-holder will face substantial disadvantages, if he is forced to wait with the initiation of proceedings against the infringer, until after the end of opposition or nullity proceedings pending against the SEP.

Against this background, the court argued that the Claimant is most likely not entitled to the requested preliminary injunction.

First, the Claimant failed to establish the validity of the SEP in dispute with the required high degree of certainty. A decision confirming the SEP in dispute is missing, since the nullity proceedings are still pending. Furthermore, the exceptions allowing this conclusion to be drawn, even without a prior con­firming decision, do most likely not apply. In particular, the fact that the Claimant concluded portfolio licensing agreements with two other companies covering also the SEP in question, does not suffice to adequately establish its validity. This fact only proves that the licensees held the SEP-holder’s portfolio as being able to receive patent protection as a whole, not, however, that they considered the SEP itself as being worthy of such protection. Furthermore, due to the high level of technical complexity, the court does not expect that the objections raised against the validity of the SEP can be proven as being unfounded solely on basis of the limited examination means available to the court in the present pro­ceedings for interim relief.

Second, the court has also substantial doubts that urgency is given. The Claimant was aware of the alleged infringement since 2012. Nevertheless, the Claimant refrained from making his claim for injunctive relief enforceable by fulfilling the Huawei judgement requirements. Furthermore, in the main proceedings ini­tiated prior to the present proceedings for preliminary injunction, the Claimant did not request for injunc­tive relief, but limited his action against the Defendant to damages and rendering of accounts. In terms of urgency, it could be expected from the Claimant to request for injunctive relief already in the main proceedings. Furthermore, the fact that the Defendant brought an action before an Irish Court requesting a declaration that Claimant’s offers did not comply with FRAND, also fails to establish urgency. It is the Defendant’s right to seek legal redress.

C. Other issues

In addition, the court expressed its view regarding the consequences of the refusal of a potential licensee to sign a NDA covering information connected with the SEP-holder’s offer for a licensing agreement on FRAND terms, without, however, ruling on this question on the merits of the present case.

The court suggested that the unjustified refusal of a licensee to enter into a NDA does not release the SEP-holder from the obligations established by the Huawei judgement, namely the obligation to make a FRAND offer to the licensee and specify the underlying conditions (particularly the price calculation). An unjusti­fied refusal of the licensee to sign a NDA shall, however, lead to easing the SEP-holder’s burden to provide the licensee with detailed explanations regarding the justification of its licensing conditions, to the extent that this is required for protecting its justified confidentiality interests. Instead of detailed information, “merely indicative observations would, basically, suffice. The licensee cannot object the FRAND con­formity of the SEP-holder’s offer based on the insufficient specification of the licensing terms.
Updated 17 八月 2018

Apple v Qualcomm, [2018] EWHC 1188 (Pat)

英国法院判决
22 五月 2018 - Case No. HP-2017-000015

A. Facts

The Claimants are the US-based parent company of the Apple group, Apple Inc., and five European subsidiaries. The Apple group manufactures and sells, among other products, mobile telecommunication and media devices [1] .

The two Defendants are the US-based parent company of the Qualcomm group, Qualcomm Incorporated (Qualcomm USA), and its subsidiary, Qualcomm (UK) Limited (Qualcomm UK) [2] . Qualcomm USA supplies manufacturers of Claimants’ devices with chipsets for mobile phones [3] . The company holds a great number of patents declared essential (Standard Essential Patents, or SEPs) to mobile telecommuni¬cation standards developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) [2] . Qualcomm USA made undertakings towards ETSI pursuant to Article 6.1 of the ETSI Intellectual Property Rights Policy (IPR Policy) that it “and its Affiliates” would make its SEPs accessible to users on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms and conditions (FRAND undertakings). Qualcomm UK, on the other hand, neither holds SEPs relating to ETSI standards, nor made a FRAND undertaking vis-à-vis ETSI pursuant to Article 6.1. ETSI [4] . The company is, nevertheless, a member of ETSI.

The Claimants brought an action against both Defendants before the High Court of Justice (Court). Against Qualcomm USA the Claimants asserted claims for declaration of invalidity, for revocation and for declaration of non-essentiality with respect to certain SEPs [5] , a claim for declaration that rights derived from SEPs held by Qualcomm USA are exhausted [6] , a claim for damages allegedly suffered by an abuse of dominant position by Qualcomm USA in the relevant markets [7] , as well as claims arising from an alleged breach of the ETSI IPR Policy and the FRAND undertakings [8] .

Against Qualcomm UK the Claimants raised one single claim: They argued that Qualcomm UK as a member of ETSI was in breach of an obligation to license or procure licences on FRAND terms for SEPs held by the Qualcomm group [9] .

In its present decision, the Court did not rule on the merits of the claims asserted against Qualcomm USA. The Court focused on procedural questions regarding to the service of these claims, expressing doubts that some of the claims raised (particularly the claim for damages resulting from an alleged abuse of market power) could be validly served on Qualcomm USA outside the UK jurisdiction [10] .

Regarding to the claim asserted against Qualcomm UK, the Court found that no real prospect of success on the merits exist [11] . Accordingly, the Court signaled that it will grant Qualcomm UK a summary judg-ment against that claim, as the latter requested [12] .


B. Court’s reasoning

The Claimants based the claim against Qualcomm UK on the notion that the ETSI IPR policy obliges all ETSI members to license or procure a licence for SEPs on FRAND terms [9] . In addition, the Claimants argued that the ETSI IPR Policy imposes on Qualcomm UK as a member of ETSI an obligation to see to it that Qualcomm USA, or other companies belonging to the Qualcomm group, performed their FRAND undertakings [13] . Further, the Claimants pleaded that the FRAND undertakings made by Qualcomm USA towards ETSI on behalf of itself and its “Affiliates” also covered Qualcomm UK; thus, a breach of these undertakings was enforceable and actionable against the latter as well [14] .

Ruling on the obligations of ETSI members, the Court made clear that the ETSI IPR Policy does not require ETSI members which do not own SEPs to make a FRAND undertaking, not least because such an undertaking could not be fulfilled [15] . Moreover, in the eyes of the Court, the ETSI IPR Policy does not establish such an obligation even for entities which hold SEPs [15] . This can be derived from the provisions contained in the ETSI IPR Policy regulating the steps to be taken, in case that the patent holder chooses to refrain from making a FRAND undertaking (Article 8 ETSI IPR Policy) [15] .

Furthermore, the Court rejected the notion that the ETSI IPR Policy imposes on Qualcomm UK as a member of ETSI an obligation to make sure that Qualcomm USA performed its FRAND undertakings [13] . According to the Court, there is nothing in the wording of the ETSI IPR Policy or in the nature of the ETSI scheme which could establish such an obligation of ETSI members [13] . The Court did not see any need to impose an unexpressed obligation of that kind on ETSI members, either [13] .

Finally, the Court ruled that the FRAND undertakings of Qualcomm USA did not affect Qualcomm UK [16] . In the Court’s view, the reference to “Affiliates” in connection with undertakings pursuant to Article 6.1 ETSI IPR Policy covers only subsidiaries which themselves own SEPs subject to the respective undertaking [17] . Again, a company which does not own SEPs cannot be required to grant licences for patents that it does not hold [18] .

  • [1] Applev Qualcomm, UK High Court of Justice, judgement dated 22ndMay 2018, Case-No. HP-2017-000015, [2018] EWHC 1188 (Pat), para. 1 et seq.
  • [2] Ibid, para. 3.
  • [3] Ibid, para. 63.
  • [4] Ibid, para. 35 et seq.
  • [5] Ibid, para. 13 et seq.
  • [6] Ibid, para. 15.
  • [7] Ibid, para. 16.
  • [8] Ibid, paras. 13 et seq.
  • [9] Ibid, paras. 11 and 38.
  • [10] Ibid, paras. 92 and 115 et. seq.
  • [11] Ibid, para. 57.
  • [12] Ibid, paras. 8 and 57.
  • [13] Ibid, para. 53.
  • [14] Ibid, para. 38.
  • [15] Ibid, para. 47.
  • [16] Ibid, para. 49 et seq.
  • [17] Ibid, para. 50 et seq.
  • [18] Ibid, para. 50.

Updated 10 四月 2019

华为诉中兴通信

欧洲联盟法院判决
16 七月 2015 - Case No. C-170/13

A. 事实

原告华为技术有限公司持有由欧洲电信标准协会(ETSI)所发展的对实施LTE无线通信技术标准必不可少的专利(标准必要专利或SEP) [19] 。 原告于2009年3月向ETSI承诺愿依照公平、合理和无歧视(FRAND)的条款与条件向实施人提供该专利 [20]

被告中兴通讯股份有限公司以及中兴通讯德国分公司本身也拥有几项与LTE标准相关的标准必要专利 [21] ,同时其也在德国等市场销售符合LTE标准的产品 [22]

在2010年11月至2011年3月之间,双方就原告所持有的标准必要专利组合的许可事宜进行了讨论 [22] 。原告提出了其所认为合理的许可费率,而另一方面,被告则试图达成交叉许可协议 [23] 。于是,此项许可协议的要约未能达成最终协议 [23]

原告其后于2011年4月在德国杜塞尔多夫地区地方法院(Landgericht)向被告提起诉讼,寻求针对被告的禁令救济,要求被告就其过去的使用行为开立担保帐户的账目,召回其产品,并针对其专利侵权行为请求损害赔偿 [24]

杜塞尔多夫地区地方法院暂时停止了诉讼程序,并根据《欧洲联盟运作条约》(TFEU)第267条的规定,向欧洲联盟法院(CJEU)提出了进行先行裁决的请求。简而言之,杜塞尔多夫地区地方法院指出,德国联邦法院(Bundesgerichtshof)和欧洲联盟委员会在有关于何种情况下,标准必要专利持有人对标准必要专利实施人提出的禁令诉讼将构成对市场支配地位的滥用而违反了《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条此一问题上,似乎采取了相互矛盾的立场 [25] 。德国联邦法院在其橙皮书案裁决中裁定,在涉及标准必要专利的侵权诉讼中,被告只有在其以达成许可协议为目的向专利持有人发出不含附带条件、公平的许可要约,并且对其过去以及其后可能发生的使用行为所衍生的许可费的支付提交保证金的情况下,才有权根据《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102 条提出抗辩(并且因此可避免禁令的核发) [26] 。然而,欧洲联盟委员会在有关三星于多个欧盟成员国内针对苹果公司采取的执法行动的几个诉讼中却认为,在被告已经表明愿意根据专利持有人的FRAND承诺,以FRAND条款进行许可谈判的情况下,针对标准必要专利采取禁令救济的行为原则上违反了《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条 [27]

根据本判决,欧洲联盟法院确立了有关标准必要专利持有人在何种情况下可以对专利实施人主张禁令救济而不违反《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条的条件。欧洲联盟法院特别针对当已就其所持有的标准必要专利做出以FRAND条款进行许可的不可撤销承诺的标准必要专利持有人,在提起相应的诉讼前已经履行下列行为时,其寻求禁令救济和/或要求召回侵权产品的行为并不会构成对市场支配地位的滥用作出裁决:

  • 首先,标准必要专利持有人必须透过“明确指出其遭受侵权的为何项专利,并指明被指控的侵权人以何种方式侵权”的方式,对专利实施人进行侵权通知,并且
  • 第二,如果被指控的侵权人表示愿意按照FRAND条款达成许可协议,则标准必要专利持有人必须“向该被指控的侵权人提出符合此种条款的具体书面许可要约,特别是必须指明许可费及其所使用的计算方式 [28]

相对地,标准必要专利实施人只有在没有任何延迟地回应标准必要专利持有人所发出的许可要约的情况下,才可以主张标准必要专利持有人寻求禁令救济和/或召回侵权产品的行为具备滥用市场支配地位的性质 [29] 。如果标准必要专利实施人拒绝接受该许可要约,则必须:

  • 立即以书面提出向标准必要专利持有人提出符合FRAND条款的特定反许可要约 [30] ,并且
  • 如果其所提出的反许可要约遭到拒绝,则必须就其对该专利的使用行为提供适当的担保,例如提供银行担保或将所需金额存入保证金帐户 [31]

欧洲联盟法院明确指出,上述框架不适用于标准必要专利持有人对实施人过去的使用行为所造成的损害提出损害赔偿和/或开设担保帐户的主张;与这些主张相关的诉讼不会构成对《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条的违反,因为它们对符合该项标准的产品是否可以出现或保留在市场上没有影响 [32]

B. 法院的论理

欧洲联盟法院强调对衡平的需求,一方面需要对标准必要专利持有人的核心基本知识产权进行有效司法保护,另一方面也需要维持自由且不失真的市场竞争的公共利益 [33]

由于当事各方并未就原告在市场上的支配地位提出异议,法院的分析着重于是否存在《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条所称的“滥用行为” [34] 。欧洲联盟法院认为,行使知识产权权利的行为本身并不会构成“滥用行为”,即便此一行使权利者是在市场中占有支配地位的企业 [35] 。此外,仅在“特殊情况”下,行使知识产权权利的行为才可能构成滥用市场支配地位的行为 [36]

涉及标准必要专利的案件与其他与知识产权相关的案件存在本质上的不同,其原因在于:首先,一项专利已取得标准必要专利地位这一事实意味着该专利的持有人可以透过“阻止竞争对手制造的产品出现或保留在市场上,从而将涉案产品的制造权保留专属于自己” [37] 。除此之外,对实施标准的第三方而言,专利持有人通过做出FRAND承诺创造出一种第三方可以按FRAND条款取得标准必要专利的“合法期待” [37] 。考虑到标准必要专利持有人创造了此一“合法期待”,原则上,当标准必要专利持有人拒绝授予其FRAND许可时,在侵权诉讼中被起诉的专利实施人可以通过援用《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条为自己进行抗辩 [38]

尽管标准必要专利持有人诉诸法律程序来保护其知识产权的权利不能被剥夺,欧洲联盟法院仍然认为,标准必要专利持有人做出FRAND承诺正当化了其在寻求禁令救济时应该遵守某些特定要求的义务 [39] 。特别是为了避免违反《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条,标准必要专利持有人应满足以下条件:(a)在提起禁令救济诉讼之前,标准必要专利持有人必须透过“明确指出其遭受侵权的为何项专利,并指明被指控的侵权人以何种方式侵权”的方式,对专利实施人进行侵权通知 [40] ,并且(b)如果被指控的侵权人表示愿意按照FRAND条款达成许可协议,则标准必要专利持有人必须“向该被指控的侵权人提出符合此种条款的具体书面许可要约,特别是必须指明许可费及其所使用的计算方式 [41] 。在这种情况下,欧洲联盟法院认为,可以合理期待标准必要专利持有人有能力提出这样的要约,因为一般来说并不存在公开的标准必要专利许可协议,并且标准必要专利持有人与第三方间签订的现有协议条款也不会被公开,因此,标准必要专利人“比起被指控的侵权人更有能力检查其要约是否符合不歧视的条件” [42]

另一方面,(被指控的)侵权人也必须“本于善意并依据该领域公认的既存商业惯例”对标准必要专利持有人的要约认真地做出回应 [29] 。(被指控的)侵权人是否符合此要求则必须基于“客观因素”来判定,这尤其意味着(被指控的)侵权人没有使用“延迟策略” [29]

如果(被指控的)侵权人认为标准必要专利持有人所提出的条款不符合其FRAND承诺,并选择拒绝标准必要专利持有人所提出的许可要约,则(被指控的)侵权人就必须向标准必要专利持有人提交一份符合FRAND条款的具体书面反要约 [30] 。如果其所提出的反要约遭到标准必要专利持有人的拒绝,并且(被指控的)侵权人已经在没有许可的情况下使用了涉案的标准必要专利,则(被指控的)侵权人有义务根据该领域公认的既存商业惯例就其使用行为提供“适当的担保”,例如提供银行担保或将所需金额存入保证金帐户 [31] 。针对该担保的计算除了必须包含“ 对标准必要专利过去的使用行为的数额”外,(被指控的)侵权人还必须能够就这些使用行为开立担保帐户 [31]

当(被指控的)侵权人提出反要约后双方仍然不能达成协议时,欧洲联盟法院指出,当事方可以选择以“共同协议”的方式,没有拖延地请求“由独立的第三方即刻对许可费数额进行决定” [43]

最后,欧洲联盟法院明确指出,(被指控的)侵权人有权在许可谈判进行的同时,对标准必要专利持有人所持有的专利的有效性和/或标准必要性和/或实际使用进行挑战,或保留未来这样做的权利 [44]

 

  • [19] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgment dated 6 July 2015, 段 22。
  • [20] 同上注, 段 22。
  • [21] 同上注, 段 40。
  • [22] 同上注, 段 24。
  • [23] 同上注, 段 25。
  • [24] 同上注, 段 27。
  • [25] 同上注, 段 29 及以下。
  • [26] 同上注, 段 30 及以下。
  • [27] 同上注, 段 34 及以下。
  • [28] 同上注, 段 77。
  • [29] 同上注, 段 65。
  • [30] 同上注, 段 66。
  • [31] 同上注, 段 67。
  • [32] 同上注, 段 72及以下。
  • [33] 同上注, 段 42。
  • [34] 同上注, 段 43。
  • [35] 同上注, 段 46。
  • [36]  同上注, 段 47。
  • [37] 同上注, 段 53。
  • [38] 同上注, 段 53及以下。
  • [39] 同上注, 段 58 及以下。
  • [40] 同上注, 段 61。
  • [41] 同上注, 段 63。
  • [42] 同上注, 段 64。
  • [43] 同上注, 段 68。
  • [44] 同上注, 段 69。

Updated 9 十一月 2020

夏普诉戴姆勒

慕尼黑地区法院
10 九月 2020 - Case No. 7 O 8818/19

A. 事实


原告是总部位于日本的夏普(Sharp)集团的一部分(以下称“夏普”)。夏普持有一系列的专利组合,而这些专利组合被宣告为实施欧洲电信标准协会(ETSI)所发展出的数种无线通信标准时(潜在)必要的专利(以下称“标准必要专利”或“SEP”)。

被告戴姆勒(Daimler)是是德国一家主要的汽车制造商。戴姆勒在德国生产并销售具有连网功能的汽车,而此一连网功能实施了由欧洲电信标准协会所发展出的标准。

夏普就本案涉案专利为实施4G / LTE标准时(潜在)必要向欧洲电信标准协会作出宣告。

欧洲电信标准协会要求各专利持有人承诺愿依照公平、合理且无歧视(FRAND)的条款和条件向标准实施人提供实施该标准时必要或可能成为必要的专利。 2017年,夏普加入了Avanci许可平台。Avanci依据标准化的许可协议和固定费率向汽车制造商提供实施连网标准的标准必要专利许可。Avanci自2016年9月起就一直持续在与戴姆勒联系沟通有关取得许可可能性的相关事宜,然而,双方并未达成协议的签署。

在一次初步的沟通后,夏普于2019年5月20日向戴姆勒提出了一系列说明其所持有的标准必要专利——包含本案涉案专利——与受影响标准的相关部分对应关系的权利要求对照表. 戴姆勒于2019年6月7日作出回覆,表示其原则上愿意取得其所使用专利的许可,然而却询问夏普所提供者是双边许可或是由Avanci平台进行许可。戴姆勒提出,如果该许可是以双边许可的方式提供,则其认为其供应商也可以被许可。

戴姆勒于2019年7月23日向夏普发出了另一封信函,信函中主张其认为不应该是由戴姆勒本身,而是应该由其(未个别指名的)供应商应来取得许可。戴姆勒主张,本案中夏普未向特别是供应连网功能元件的戴姆勒各供应商提供许可及其所要求获取的夏普已签署协议的相关信息,夏普因此将违反其对欧洲电信标准协会欧洲电信标准协会的FRAND承诺。

夏普在2019年8月8日作出回应,并告知其计划向戴姆勒提出一项单独的许可要约。为此,夏普要求戴姆勒提供某些相关信息,特别是与戴姆勒供应商有关的信息。

2019年9月18日,戴姆勒拒绝提供夏普所要求的信息,并且再次提出其供应商才是夏普许可要求的正确的收受人。

夏普在2019年10月22日向戴姆勒发出了一份双边FRAND许可协议要约,然而,此一许可要约并未被接受。

随后,夏普于慕尼黑地区法院(以下称“法院”)向戴姆勒提起了当前侵权诉讼。戴姆勒的几家供应商也参加了该诉讼程序以支持戴姆勒。

戴姆勒于该诉讼程序被提起后的2019年12月17日对夏普提出了许可反要约,随后并要求夏普同意中止该未决侵权诉讼程序的进行。夏普于2019年12月31日拒绝了戴姆勒所提出的许可反要约。

在诉讼程序进行的过程中,夏普与参加诉讼的其中一家戴姆勒供应商达成了许可协议。因此,夏普修改了其在诉讼中的主张。

法院在当前判决 [45] (引自https://www.gesetze-bayern.de/Content/Document/Y-300-Z-BECKRS-B-2020-N-22577?hl=true)中对对戴姆勒核发了禁令,并确认戴姆勒应承担实质性损害赔偿的责任。法院还要求戴姆勒必须召回并销毁侵权产品、开立担保帐户、并且提供计算夏普所受损失必需的相关信息。

 

B. 法院的论理

法院认为,本案涉案专利为实施4G / LTE标准时所必要 [46] ,并且该专利遭受侵权行为 [47] 。因此,夏普有权享有包含禁令救济在内的各项诉讼上主张 [48]

戴姆勒主张了所谓的“FRAND抗辩”,基本上认为夏普提起侵权诉讼的行为构成了对其市场支配地位的滥用,从而违反了《欧洲联盟运作条约》(TFEU)第102条,因此其禁令救济主张应予否决。除此之外,戴姆勒等主张夏普未能遵守欧洲联盟法院(CJEU)在华为诉中兴案 [49] 中所确立的行为义务(以下称“华为案判决”或“华为框架”)。

法院驳回了戴姆勒提出的FRAND抗辩,并且认为戴姆勒不能通过其供应商获得FRAND抗辩 [50]

滥用市场支配地位

法院认为,当专利持有人未能做出“充分努力”来满足其因居于市场支配地位所应承担的“特殊责任”并致力促成与“原则上有取得许可意愿”的被许可人间许可协议的签署时,专利持有人因为行使其标准必要专利权而构成对市场支配地位的滥用的情况便可能产生 [51] 。然而,这需要未经权利持有人许可就已经使用了该项受保护技术的实施人愿意按照FRAND条款取得许可方可能实现 [52] 。法院进一步阐明,标准必要专利持有人不能向法院提出对任一标准实施人“强制施加”许可协议的主张 [52]

基于以上所述,法院认为,夏普提起本案诉讼的行为并未构成《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条下对市场支配地位的滥用 [53] 。法院并未确认夏普是否真实具备市场支配地位,而仅只是假设情况确实如此 [53] 。尽管如此,由于戴姆勒未能充分表达出其取得夏普所持有的标准必要专利组合的许可的意愿,夏普对其(假定的)市场支配地位的滥用并不成立 [54]
 

取得许可的意愿

法院解释到,实施人必须“清楚”且“明确”地表明其愿意依照“任何实际上符合FRAND的条款”与标准必要专利持有人达成许可协议,并且随后以一种“目的性导向”的态度来进行许可谈判(引用德国联邦法院2020年5月5日在Sisvel诉Haier案中的判决– Sisvel v Haier, Case No. KZR 36/17以及英格兰和威尔士高等法院2017年4月5日在无线星球诉华为案中所做出的判决[2017] EWHC 711(Pat)-Unwired Planet v Huawei) [52]

这意味着实施人不应拖延许可谈判的进行 [55] 。在法院看来,这尤为重要,其原因在于实施人通常在许可谈判开始之前就已经使用了该标准化技术专利,而拖延许可协议的签署直至该专利到期失效为止对他们而言可能是具备完全且优势利益的 [55]

尽管如此,法院认为,戴姆勒并未展现出一个“善意”被许可人应有的态度 [54]

从戴姆勒在向夏普提出许可反要约之前的行为来看,法院认为戴姆勒缺少了“明确”的取得许可意愿的表达 [56] 。在其于2019年6月7日对夏普做出的第一份答复中,戴姆勒并没有做出任何形式的承诺是超出如同“若其确实使用了夏普的专利就愿意讨论是否取得许可”这样概括性意愿表达的 [57] 。此外,戴姆勒在其2019年7月23日的信函中也未包含适当表达其取得许可意愿的声明,特别是当戴姆勒仅仅是将夏普转介给其(甚至未指明名称的)供应商,并且坚持认为夏普有义务对其供应商授予许可时 [58] 。此情况于戴姆勒在2019年9月18日所作出的声明中亦相同,戴姆勒在该声明中再度将夏普转介给其供应商,同时还拒绝向夏普提供草拟许可要约所必需的相关信息 [59] 。法院指出,尽管披露夏普所要求的信息的法律上义务并不存在,戴姆勒多次的各种拒绝明确显示其并非以“目的性导向的态度”来参与讨论,而只是为了拖延许可谈判的进行 [60] 。戴姆勒在夏普提出相关要求后将近六周的时间才作出回覆的这一事实更加证实了上述观点,法院认为戴姆勒不具备任何理由而需要花费这么长时间的才能作出回覆 [60]

此外,法院指出,戴姆勒在与Avanci平台谈判过程中的整体行为进一步证实了戴姆勒作为一个“恶意”被许可人的这一结论 [61] 。法院认为,在评估提出FRAND抗辩的实施人是否具备“取得许可的意愿”时,应该将实施人的整体行为纳入考量范围,而不是仅考虑实施人在收到侵权通知后时间维度上立即发生的事实 [62] 。评估实施人是否具备取得许可意愿的标准不应该取决于究竟是由专利持有人首先开始与实施人接洽抑或是相反地由实施人主动发起向专利持有人寻求许可这样相对随机的事实 [63] 。尽管华为判决中所确立的行为义务(其中一项为通过表达取得许可的“意愿”来对侵权通知做出回覆)原则上应该按照欧洲联盟法院所描绘的那样按“步骤”进行操作,然而,视具体个案情况的不同,例外应被允许,在当事方的行为存在应被允许的例外情况时,以一种存粹“形式性“的观点来看待华为框架似乎并不恰当 [64] 。法院认为,本案即是此种情况,因为戴姆勒自2016年9月以来即持续与Avanci接洽,并且从未在任何一个时间点表达其愿意取得许可 [65]

法院进一步指出,戴姆勒于2019年12月17日提出的许可反要约是在侵权诉讼已经被提起后才提出的,此无法弥补其取得许可意愿的缺失 [66] 。法院认为,戴姆勒所提出的许可反要约中附带了要求夏普同意中止正在进行的诉讼程序的条件,此一事实表明,于本案中戴姆勒唯一的目的只是在拖延许可谈判的进行;因此,此一许可反要约的提出并不能弥补戴姆勒在截至当时为止所表现出的“巨大恶意” [67] 。在一点上,法院表示,在诉讼进行过程中对瑕疵行为进行补正(例如:通过提出许可反要约)的可能原则上是被允许的,然而,随着审判进行至越后期,允许补正的条件将越来越严格 [68]

法院还强调,就内容而言,戴姆勒所提出的许可反要约并没有表达出其愿按“任何实际上符合FRAND的条款”取得许可的意愿 [69] 。通过提出一个不同的“参考点”来计算许可费,戴姆勒仅只是针对夏普要约中许可费的一小部分或Avanci从其竞争对手处收取的整体费用部分做出了反要约,如此一来对方拒绝此许可反要约就成为了一种“逻辑上的必要” [70]

于此脉络下,法院明确指出,就是否具备取得许可意愿的评估仅戴姆勒的行为是相关的 [71] 。更重要的是,戴姆勒不能以其参加诉讼的供应商“声称“有向夏普取得许可的意愿为由来避免禁令的核发 [72] 。因此,法院并没有就戴姆勒的供应商是否确实为“善意被许可人”进行审查 [72]
 

无歧视 / 许可层级

除上述几项观点外,法院进一步阐明,夏普仅对作为终端设备制造商的戴姆勒要求取得许可的行为并未构成滥用或歧视性行为 [73]

法院认为,夏普没有义务对戴姆勒的供应商授予许可 [74] 。在(德国的)汽车行业中,由供应商来取得与其出售给汽车制造商的零部件相关的许可此一作法十分常见,但这并不意味着夏普就必须尊重且接受这种作法 [75] 。相反地,随着其产品越来越广泛地使用无线通信技术,戴姆勒必须接受于该行业中盛行的作法,其中也包括向终端设备制造商进行许可 [75]

无论如何,法律上夏普都没有必须对零组件制造商授予许可的义务;其仅有义务必须许可对其所持有实施某一标准的标准必要专利的“使用” [76] 。专利持有人对欧洲电信标准协会所做出的承诺创造了一项将标准必要专利对第三方进行许可的义务 [77] 。尽管如此,法院强调,这并不意味着标准必要专利持有人有义务对价值链中各个层级的每一个参与者皆授予许可 [78] 。这种义务既不是源于竞争法,也并非由于对欧洲电信标准协会做出的FRAND承诺与专利法或合同法相结合而产生 [78]

特别是,欧盟竞争法并未规定必须在价值链的各个层级上对标准必要专利进行许可的义务 [79] 。法院认为,原则上,专利持有人有权自由选择要在价值链中的哪一个层级对其所持有的专利进行许可 [80] 。在华为案判决中,欧洲联盟法院指出,FRAND承诺为第三方创造出的是一种其可以由专利持有人处获得许可的“合法期待”。然而,法院认为,这并不构成必须对终端设备制造商的所有供应商进行许可的义务;进入市场并不一定需要取得许可,而是只要能有“合法使用的可能性”即可,这可以是例如通过对价值链最后一级参与者授予的许可,供应商便可以借此获得“代工权” [80]

法院还解释到,即使是在专利法中也未规定标准必要专利必须在价值链中的哪一个层级被许可 [81] 。特别是,并非所有包含于标准必要专利组合中的个别专利的专利权都必须在零组件制造商层级就产生穷竭的这一事实,更加支持了在终端设备层级进行许可的做法(除此之外,此种做法也可以更有效地对许可费用进行管理) [82]

最后,法院指出,合同法与对欧洲电信标准协会做出的FRAND承诺相结合并不会对专利持有人施加对每一个有兴趣的第三方进行许可的义务 [83] 。根据其所适用的法国法律,欧洲电信标准协会知识产权政策第6.1条应被理解为仅只是规定了必须本于诚信原则与有意愿取得许可的第三方进行FRAND许可协议谈判的义务 [84] 。然而,通过对“设备”的明确指称,此条款仅适用于终端设备制造商,因为并非所有的零组件都必然以某标准为一个整体的形式来实施该标准 [85] 。在法院看来,欧洲联盟委员会过去在不同场合所表达的观点也并不会得出不同的结论同上注, 段 180-183。 法院特别引用了欧盟委员会在摩托罗拉案(European Commission, Case No. AT.39985 – Motorola)中的决定,以及 the Communication on the Guidelines on the applicability of Article 101 TFEU to horizontal co-operation agreements (2011/C 11/01); 及 the Communication on ICT Standardisation Priorities for the Digital Single Market, COM(2016) 176 final。
 

供应商提出的FRAND抗辩护

法院进一步认为,戴姆勒无法从其供应商所提出的FRAND抗辩护中获益 [87] 。被告仅在当专利持有人有义务对供应商进行许可时,才可以倚仗此种抗辩;然而,此情形于在充分考量了相关价值链中可能产生的专利权穷竭问题后,被告本身仍有能力与标准必要专利持有人签署许可时,则没有其适用 [87] 。 法院认为本案即是此种情况。戴姆勒的供应商本身并没有单独作出要求获得夏普的许可的主张,而只是主张对标准化技术应享有“受法律保障的使用”,而这并不能支持戴姆勒的主张 [88]

 

C. 其他重要问题

此外,法院认为没有理由基于比例原则考量而对夏普所提出的禁令救济主张进行限制 [89] 。戴姆勒曾辩称,其认为不应根据本案涉案专利而核发禁令,因其所生产的车辆是由大量零组件组合而成的“复杂”产品,而使用夏普所持有的标准必要专利的远程控制单元对于汽车整体而言的重要性极其微小。

法院明确指出,根据德国法律,比例原则是一项具备宪法位阶的一般性原则,如果被告以此原则为由提出异议,则法院在审查禁令救济问题时也应予以考虑 [90] 。根据联邦法院的判例,禁令在实施人将遭受因专利持有人违反诚信原则行使排他性权利而产生的危害这样的特殊情况下,就可能无法立即执行 [91]

在法院看来,任何对禁令救济权的限制都应该在“极少数特殊情况下”才有其适用,因此必须受到严格的条件限制,尤其是当为了维护“法律秩序”以及“法律的确定性与可预测性”时 [92] 。在整体实质性和程序性框架下(包括例如为执行一审所核发的禁令需提供担保),就所有相关事实对具体个案逐一进行评估是必须的 [92] 。法院解释到,只有在此一危害超出执行禁令通常会产生的后果时才可能被考虑 [92] 。同时,应该可以期待侵权人会在收到侵权通知后做出努力以尽快达成许可协议的签署并且至少采取一定预防措施来防止可能对其主张的禁令 [92]

于此脉络下,法院指出,尽管在本案中受影响的可能仅只是戴姆勒所制造车辆中的单个部件,本案各争点依旧是围绕着一个复杂的专利组合(不论究竟是夏普或者Avanci的专利组合)的许可问题而产生 [93] 。此外,法院也不认同夏普专利所具有的功能对戴姆勒的车辆而言是不重要的,此原因在于,“联网汽车”这一创新发明中很大的一部分,不论是从技术层面还是经济角度出发,都与移动通信技术紧密相关 [94] 。最后,法院还批判了戴姆勒并未做出任何实际的努力以寻求与夏普或Avanci签署许可协议的事实 [95]

  • [45] Sharp v Daimler, District Court of Munich, judgment dated 10 September 2020, Case-No. 7 O 8818/19。
  • [46] 同上注, 段 68 及以下。
  • [47] 同上注, 段 25 及以下。
  • [48] 同上注, 段 90。
  • [49] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13。
  • [50] Sharp v Daimler, District Court of Munich, judgment dated 10 September 2020, Case-No. 7 O 8818/19, 段 121。
  • [51] 同上注, 段 124。
  • [52] 同上注, 段 125。
  • [53] 同上注, 段 128。
  • [54] 同上注, 段 130 及以下。
  • [55] 同上注, 段 126。
  • [56] 同上注, 段 132 及以下。
  • [57] 同上注, 段 134 及以下。
  • [58] 同上注, 段 136 及以下。
  • [59] 同上注, 段 138 及以下。
  • [60] 同上注, 段 140。
  • [61] 同上注, 段 141。
  • [62] 同上注, 段 142 及以下。
  • [63] 同上注, 段 143 及以下。
  • [64] 同上注, 段 144。
  • [65] 同上注, 段 146-149。
  • [66] 同上注, 段 150。
  • [67] 同上注, 段 151 及段153。
  • [68] 同上注, 段 152。
  • [69] 同上注, 段 154。
  • [70] 同上注, 段 154 及以下。
  • [71] 同上注, 段 158 及段 159。
  • [72] 同上注, 段 158。
  • [73] 同上注, 段 161 及以下。
  • [74] 同上注, 段 162。
  • [75] 同上注, 段 164。
  • [76] 同上注, 段 165。
  • [77] 同上注, 段 168。
  • [78] 同上注, 段 169。
  • [79] 同上注, 段 170 及以下。
  • [80] 同上注, 段 171。
  • [81] 同上注, 段 173 及以下。
  • [82] 同上注, 段 174。
  • [83] 同上注, 段 175 及以下。
  • [84] 同上注, 段 177 及以下。
  • [85] 同上注, 段 178。
  • [86] 同上注, 段 180-183。 法院特别引用了欧盟委员会在摩托罗拉案(European Commission, Case No. AT.39985 – Motorola)中的决定,以及 the Communication on the Guidelines on the applicability of Article 101 TFEU to horizontal co-operation agreements (2011/C 11/01); 及 the Communication on ICT Standardisation Priorities for the Digital Single Market, COM(2016) 176 final。
  • [87] 同上注, 段 167。
  • [88] 同上注, 段 185。
  • [89] 同上注, 段 92-102。
  • [90] 同上注, 段 93。
  • [91] 同上注, 段 94。
  • [92] 同上注, 段 95。
  • [93] 同上注, 段 97 及以下。
  • [94] 同上注, 段 100 及以下。
  • [95] 同上注, 段 99。

Updated 6 六月 2017

Philips v Acer

OLG Karlsruhe
29 八月 2016 - Case No. 6 U 57/16

  1. Facts
    1. Decision First Instance
      The proceedings related to the defendant’s application to the Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe for a stay of execution of the decision of the District Court of Mannheim (Case No. 7 O 23/14). This case first instance concerned the infringement of the patent EP 0.745.307.B3, which covered a technology for subtitles in the DVD standard. The defendant marketed computers that use a DVD-software. The claimant, which commercialised the patent in question through a patent pool, [96] had made a FRAND-declaration to the “DVD-Forum” which administers the DVD standard. [97]
      On 30 May 2014, the defendant offered to enter into a license agreement for patent in question and respective products marketed in Germany. The license fees were based on an expert opinion which the defendant had commissioned. Alternatively, the defendant suggested that the license fees could be determined by the claimant in good faith pursuant to sec 315 of the German Civil Code. [98] The defendant made a deposit with the Düsseldorf Magistrates Court which covered use of the patent in Germany and rendered account to the claimant. On 25 July 2014, the claimant sent an amended counter-offer, which was rejected by the defendant. [99] On 13 March 2015, the claimant made another license offer for a world-wide portfolio license, giving details about the calculation of the license fee. [100] The defendant requested claim charts and rejected the calculation details as insufficient. [101]
      The District Court of Mannheim ordered the defendant to render full and detailed account of its sales (including all parties involved, the respective advertisements, all costs and profits) [102] to calculate the amount of compensation it owed. [103]
    2. The Ensuing Application for Stay of Execution
      Under the German rules of civil procedure, the Higher Regional Court can only grant a stay of execution if an appeal is pending and it is probable that the challenged decision will be overturned because it appears manifestly erroneous. [104] Alternatively, the Higher Regional Court can grant a stay of execution if the defendant (now: the applicant) can prove that the execution would cause particularly severe harm beyond the usual effects of an execution. [104]
      The applicant sought to stay the execution of the order of the District Court of Mannheim, [105] which required it to render full account. Instead, the applicant contended that it was only necessary to render information required to calculate the amount of compensation owed via license analogy (i.e. time of sale and number of units sold). [106] The Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe dismissed the application. [104] It held that the decision of the District Court of Mannheim was not manifestly erroneous. Further, the applicant had not provided sufficient evidence that particularly severe harm would be caused if the decision of the District Court of Mannheim were executed. [107]
  2. Court’s reasoning

      Most aspects of the decision do not directly relate to the Huawei ruling. However, the court held that the decision of the District Court of Mannheim was not manifestly erroneous in ordering the applicant to render accounts in full detail. It held that the District Court of Mannheim had correctly decided that the Huawei ruling did not contain any restrictions of the SEP holder’s information claims. [108] In the eyes of the District Court of Mannheim, the CJEU had not referred to means of calculating the amount of compensation owed - it had only clarified that Art. 102 TFEU does not prevent the SEP owner from demanding the alleged infringer to render accounts for use of the patent in the past. [108] Accordingly, the District Court of Mannheim considered that competition law, and in particular, the existence of a FRAND declaration, are not relevant considerations for compensation and information claims. [109] In the eyes of the court, this view is not manifestly erroneous.
  3. Other important issues
    The claimant commercialised the patent in question through a patent pool. This fact itself, according to the court, does not mean that the applicant’s interests outweigh the interests of the claimant. [110] In the past, the court had given special consideration to whether the claimant’s interests were primarily focused on receiving royalties (Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe, 23 April 2015, Case No. 6 U 44/15; Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe, 31 May 2016, Case No. 6 U 55/16). However, the court reasoned, in contrast to the case at issue, that the aforementioned decisions had concerned cases in which it was likely that the decision at first instance would not be upheld on appeal. [110]
    The court held that the decision at first instance was not manifestly erroneous in its interpretation of Art. 101 TFEU (anticompetitive conduct). The District Court of Mannheim had been of the opinion that an alleged breach of Art. 101 TFEU could not be raised as a defence in patent infringement proceedings. [111] If a standardisation agreement breached Art. 101 TFEU, the standard would be void. The Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe confirmed that it had not yet been decided by the higher courts if the commencement of patent infringement proceedings by an SEP holder constituted a breach of Art. 101 TFEU. However, even if that were the case, this defence would only be relevant against injunctions, but not in respect of compensation and rendering accounts claims. [112]
  • [96] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 5
  • [97] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 8
  • [98] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 10
  • [99] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 11
  • [100] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 12
  • [101] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 13
  • [102] Case No. 6 U 57/16, paras 15-19
  • [103] The decision omits further details on the decision first instance because they are not relevant for the application, see OLG Karlsruhe, 29 August 2016, Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 14
  • [104] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 25
  • [105] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 23
  • [106] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 23, 31
  • [107] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 26
  • [108] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 31
  • [109] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 32, 33
  • [110] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 43
  • [111] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 28
  • [112] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 30

Updated 26 一月 2017

Canon v Carsten Weser

OLG Düsseldorf
29 四月 2016 - Case No. I-15 U 49/15

The proceedings before the Court concerned the subsequent appeal of Defendants in Case LG Düsseldorf, 11 June 2015 – Case No. 4a O 45/14 (decision rendered before Huawei) seeking to set aside the decision of the lower court. As Cases No. I-15 U 49/15 and No. I-15 U 47/15 are interconnected, the Court came to the same conclusions and framed them in essentially the same wording as in its decision OLG Düsseldorf, 29 April 2016 - Case No. I-15 U 47/15 (cf. above). Therefore, no separate and detailed summary is provided here.


Updated 26 一月 2017

Unwired Planet v Samsung

LG Düsseldorf
19 一月 2016 - Case No. 4b O 120/14

  1. Facts
    Since 7 March 2014 Claimant, a non-practicing entity, is the proprietor of European patent EP D, allegedly covering a feature of the GSM standard, originally granted to the Intervener, and subsequently transferred to company “I”. Defendants, belonging to the K-group, produce and market GSM- and UMTS-based devices.
    In an agreement as of 26 October 2011, the Intervener granted a worldwide non-exclusive license to Qualcomm Inc., being, in turn, allowed to grant sub-licenses to its customers. Furthermore, by agreement as of 1 February 2014 one of the Defendants was granted a worldwide, non-exclusive license to patents owned by the Intervener.
    On 10 January 2013, the Intervener concluded a so-called “Master Sales Agreement” (MSA), concerning the exploitation of a portfolio of more than two thousand patents, with “E”, “F” and its subsidiaries. Claimant became a party to the MSA later on. After its accession to the MSA, “I”, by assuming the existing FRAND obligation of the Intervener in accordance with the MSA, made a separate FRAND commitment towards ETSI on 14 June 2013 and declared, in an agreement as of 13 February 2013, to ensure that subsequent acquirers equally assume this obligation. Accordingly, after the transfer of patent EP D to Claimant the latter made, on 6 March 2014, a separate commitment towards ETSI declaring to be willing to grant licenses on FRAND terms with regard to, inter alia, patent EP D.
    In order to implement the MSA the parties concluded three transfer agreements. Claimant argues that the Intervener validly transferred a part of its patent portfolio, including patent EP D, by agreement as of 11 February 2013 to undertaking “B”. On 13 February 2013, “B”, in turn, transferred the patent portfolio, including patent EP D, to “I”. After successfully requesting, on 3 September 2013, an amendment of the patent register, being performed on 24 October 2013, “I” transferred, on 27 February 2014, the patent portfolio, including patent EP D, to Claimant. Claimant successfully requested, on 7 March 2014, an amendment of the patent register which was performed on 3 July 2014.
    As a reaction to Claimant’s public license proposal including a royalty of USD 0.75 per mobile device Defendants allegedly submitted a counter-offer but no licensing agreement was concluded.
  2. Court’s reasoning
    1. Market power
      The court stressed that an application of Article 102 TFEU does not automatically result from SEP ownership but that it requires proof of a dominant position on the relevant market being conveyed by the SEP in question. Due to the fact that products not implementing the patent-in-suit could not effectively compete on the relevant market because of GSM being a key feature for such products market power of Claimant was affirmed. [113]
    2. Applicability of the Huawei rules to damages and the rendering of accounts
      While the Huawei rules of conduct apply to actions for injunction, recall and destruction of products they are, in principle, not directly applicable to claims for damages and the rendering of accounts. [114] Nor is it necessarily abusive for a SEP proprietor to bring an action for damages and the rendering of accounts without having notified the standard implementer of an infringement and without having offered a FRAND license beforehand. The Huawei obligations do, however, have an indirect impact on the extent to which damages and the rendering of accounts are due: Where the SEP proprietor fails to grant a FRAND license although he has made a FRAND commitment and the standard implementer has expressed its readiness to take a license, damages are limited to the FRAND royalty level but only for the period after the SEP proprietor’s abusive refusal to license. [115] Claims for information and the rendering of accounts must, in this event, be limited to what is necessary for determining FRAND-based damages. [116]
    3. Cap on damages/rendering of accounts in casu
      In casu Defendant could not show that he had complied with its Huawei obligation to sufficiently express its willingness to take a FRAND license. In consequence, no cap on Claimant’s claim for damages was deemed appropriate. [116]
  3. Other important issues
    Whether a SEP proprietor is free to enforce its patent in court or whether the proprietor is obliged to grant a FRAND license has to be determined under Art. 102 TFEU, not Art. 101 TFEU. [117] A FRAND declaration is not an unconditional offer made by the patent proprietor to enter into a licensing agreement with anyone willing to take a license, it merely expresses that the proprietor is, in principle, ready to grant a FRAND license if the patent in question conveys market dominance. As such, the FRAND commitment merely specifies a duty to license which competition law would impose anyway but it has an impact on the patent owner’s obligations under Art. 102 TFEU. [118]
    As regards the transfer of a SEP from the original patent proprietor to a non-practicing entity, registration in the patent register in accordance with § 30 (3) PatG establishes—also with regard to claims for damages and the rendering of accounts—presumption of ownership, allowing the proprietor to enforce all rights derived from the SEP as long as the presumption has not been successfully rebutted by Defendants. The non-registration of “B” as an interim owner was considered irrelevant under the circumstances of the present case (but not generally). Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. I, 1-2
    The MSA and the subsequent transfer agreements neither violate the German provisions on merger control (§§ 35-43 GWB) since, in any case, merger control thresholds are not reached.
    Nor was a violation of the European provisions on anticompetitive agreements (Article 101 TFEU) or on the abuse of a dominant position (Article 102 TFEU) found. Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. I, 4, a-c In particular, the transactions did not aim at enforcing non-FRAND royalties or at discriminating between licensees and the agreements framing the transactions ensured that the acquirers of the relevant patents were bound by (the initial) FRAND commitments. [119] The acquirer of a SEP is neither obliged to continue the transferor’s licensing practice in an unmodified manner nor to implement exactly the same conditions in all licensing agreements, provided the conditions are FRAND and no unjustified discrimination takes place. It is not abusive in itself for a (former) SEP proprietor to split its portfolio and to transfer the parts to several acquirers, thereby trying to arrive at higher overall royalties being paid for the portfolio. Nor is a resulting increase in the number of licenses a standard implementer has to take per se inacceptable. However, licensing conditions are FRAND only if the cumulative royalty level resulting from the licensing of all pertinent SEPs is not excessive. Putting it differently, where the royalty level for the entire portfolio was below or at the lower end of the FRAND range, it is not abusive to arrive, by way of splitting the portfolio and licensing its parts separately, at a higher overall royalty level within the FRAND range. Furthermore, the transaction agreements did not amount to price fixing. [120]
  • [113] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. VII, 6, a
  • [114] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. VII, 6, b, aa, bb
  • [115] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. VII, 6, b, dd
  • [116] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. VII, 6, b, ee
  • [117] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. VII, 4
  • [118] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. VII, 5
  • [119] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. I, 4, b, aa
  • [120] Cf. for details LG Düsseldorf, 19 January 2016 - Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. I, 4, b, bb

Updated 24 七月 2020

西斯维尔诉海尔

德国联邦法院
5 五月 2020 - Case No. KZR 36/17

A. 事实

原告西斯维尔(Sisvel)持有被声明为对实施某些无线通信标准而言(潜在)必不可少的专利(以下稱“标准必要专利”或“SEP”)。

被告是总部位于中国的海尔集团(Haier Group)的德国及法国子公司。海尔集团生产和销售符合GPRS标准的电子设备以及其他产品。

西斯维尔于2012年12月20日通知了海尔集团的中国母公司有关海尔集团对其所持有的标准必要专利的侵权使用行为。

西斯维尔提供了一项其所持有的专利组合中包含大约450项专利的清单,并表示西斯维尔愿意为这些标准必要专利向海尔提供许可。

西斯维尔于2013年4月10日向欧洲电信标准协会(ETSI)作出了承诺,表示愿意将其所持有的标准必要专利依照公平、合理且无歧视(FRAND)的条款和条件对标准实施人提供。

西斯维尔其后分别于2013年的8月和11月,向中国海尔进一步发送了更多包含与其许可计划相关信息等信息在内的信函。中国海尔仅在2013年12月时对西斯维尔回复,表示希望与西斯维尔进行“正式谈判”,并要求西斯维尔提供于此前沟通中其曾经提到过的有关折扣可能性的信息。

2014年8月,西斯维尔向海尔提出了许可要约,然而却在2014年9月遭到海尔拒绝。不久之后,西斯维尔于杜塞尔多夫地区法院(以下称“地区法院”)就其所持有的一项涵盖符合GPRS标准数据传输技术的专利(以下称“涉案专利”)向海尔提起了侵权诉讼。作为对此一行动的回应,海尔于2015年3月向德国联邦专利法院提起了确认涉案专利无效的诉讼。

地区法院于2015年11月3日对海尔发出了禁令 [121] ,同时判令召回并销毁涉案侵权产品。地区法院更进一步的确认了海尔于本案中的损害赔偿责任,并命令海尔就其侵权产品的销售向西斯维尔提供完整和详细的资料并开立担保帐户。

海尔对该判决提起上诉,并且要求杜塞尔多夫地区高级法院(以下称“上诉法院”)判决中止对地区法院所核发的前述禁令的执行。上诉法院于2016年1月做出了相应的判决 [122]

在上诉程序进行过程中,海尔所提出的各项主张之一,即是其认为,由于该判决在西斯维尔向海尔提起侵权诉讼之后才作成,地区法院于判决之时未能就欧洲联盟法院于2015年7月在华为诉中兴案判决中(以下称“华为判决”)对标准必要专利持有人所施加的行为要求进行充分考虑 [123] 。并且在上诉法院诉讼进行的过程中,海尔于2016年1月16日进一步表示,其愿意在德国法院最终确认了涉案专利的有效性以及对涉案专利的侵权行为存在的前提下,向西斯维尔取得FRAND许可。 2016年3月23日,海尔向西斯维尔发送了另一封信函称其立场维持不变。此外,海尔还向西斯维尔提出获取有关西斯维尔所持有的所有专利的权利要求对照表以及与许可费率计算相关的更多信息的要求。 西斯维尔于2016年12月再度向海尔提出了进一步的许可要约,然而仍然遭到海尔拒绝。

在2017年3月30日的判决中,上诉法院支持了海尔于本案上诉中的部分主张 [124] ,确认了海尔于本案中的损害赔偿责任及开立担保帐户的义务。然而,上诉法院认为,海尔并没有召回并销毁侵权产品的义务,因为西斯维尔并没有遵守华为判决中所要求的义务,特别是未能向海尔提出FRAND许可要约。由于涉案专利权利已于2016年9月到期失效,当事各方同意就禁令救济部分主张达成和解,因此上诉法院不需要再就此部分主张作出裁定。西斯维尔其后又对上诉法院的本案裁决提起上诉。

2017年10月,联邦专利法院在限缩了涉案专利的部分权利要求的情况下确认了其专利有效性 [125]

于2020年3月,德国联邦法院(以下称“联邦法院”或“法院”)在二审中基本上支持了联邦专利法院的此一判决决定 [126]

联邦法院于2020年5月5日做出的当前判决 [127] 中推翻了上诉法院的判决。联邦法院维持了地区法院于一审时对西斯维尔所提出的损害赔偿请求以及关于提供相关信息和开立担保帐户的各项请求所作出的裁决。有关西斯维尔召回并销毁侵权产品的请求,则仅限于海尔有权支配或其于2016年9月涉案专利到期失效前所生产或交付的产品。西斯维尔有关禁令救济的请求则因为该请求于此前上诉法院的诉讼过程中涉案专利已经到期失效而被撤回,故不受法院裁判决定。


B. 法院的论理

法院认为,涉案专利对于GPRS标准的实施而言具备标准必要性,并且遭受侵权 [128]

此外,法院认为,西斯维尔对海尔提起侵权诉讼的行为,并未构成对《欧洲联盟运作条约》(TFEU)第102条滥用市场支配地位的违反 [129] 。 在法院看来,西斯维尔已经履行了华为判决所要求的义务,在提起侵权诉讼之前将针对其所持有的标准必要专利的侵权使用行为向海尔进行通知。另一方面,海尔则未能履行其于华为框架下充分表达与西斯维尔达成许可协议意愿的义务。尽管此一事实对于本案而言已不再具有决定性,法院仍然表示其认为西斯维尔已经按照依照华为框架的相应要求向海尔提出了FRAND许可要约。

市场支配地位

法院裁定认为,西斯维尔具备《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条涵义下的市场支配地位 [130]

联邦法院解释到,市场支配地位并不单纯因为享有专利所授与的独占权而形成 [131] ,因此,需要将许多因素共同纳入考量 [132] 。其中一个关键因素是相关市场。当一项专利对符合标准发展组织发展出的标准(或事实上的标准)而言具备技术上的必要性,并且在下游市场提供的产品中并没有可以替代该标准的技术时,与市场支配力评估相关的就会是能够提供该涉案专利许可的(独特的)市场 [133]

在此基础上,法院认定西斯维尔处于市场支配地位:涉案专利对于GPRS标准的实施而言具备标准必要性,并且不配备GPRS功能的手机无法在(下游)市场中竞争,因为不管是此前或者其后的各代标准都无法使其具备与之相同的功能 [134]

于此脉络下,联邦法院并没有采纳西斯维尔关于标准实施人相较于市场中商品和服务的购买者而言,通常处于较强势的谈判地位,因此标准必要专利持有者的市场支配地位事实上受到了限制的这一观点 [135] 。法院同意,与商品和服务的购买者不同,标准实施人即便在没有与专利持有人达成协议的情况下,依然能够取得生产符合标准的产品所需的受保护技术而处于有利的地位 [136] 。然而,法院认为,此一事实并不足以排除市场支配地位。标准必要专利持有人在许可谈判中对个别实施人的还价能力的程度与此问题并不相关 [137] 。专利持有人的结构性优势市场支配力授与其市场支配地位,而此一结构性优势市场支配力则来自于专利持有人具备通过执行排他性权利而将任何实施者从市场中排除的法律上能力 [138]

同样地,法院指出,华为判决对行使标准必要专利专利权时所施加的限制同样不会削弱市场支配地位 [139] 。法院认为,这些限制极大程度地弱化了标准必要专利持有人的谈判地位,因其并不能全面性地运用其在平等基础上进行谈判时所需的必要手段 [139] 。然而,这并不足以构成对专利持有人市场支配地位的挑战,即便是在实施人透过拖延谈判的进行直至该专利到期失效而可能涉及“反向专利挟持“的情况下 [139]

尽管如此,法院指出,西斯维尔的市场支配地位在涉案专利到期失效时便已经终止 [140] 。一旦标准必要专利人不再具有排除侵权产品进入(下游)市场的合法权力,则其将不再具备市场支配地位 [140]

滥用市场支配地位

与上诉法院相反的是,联邦法院在检视了当事各方的行为后,认为西斯维尔并没有滥用其市场支配地位 [141]

法院明确指出,标准必要专利持有人并非原则上被禁止行使其因持有专利而产生的排他性权利 [142] 。一项专利具备标准必要性此一事实,并不意味着专利持有人有义务容忍他人对其所持有的专利技术的使用,除非是因为其具有市场支配地位而允许或有义务允许他人对该专利技术的使用 [142] 。联邦法院认为,如果实施人不愿意按照FRAND条款取得许可,则不存在所谓允许使用标准必要专利的义务。专利持有人——即便是具有市场支配地位专利持有人——并没有“强迫“任何标准实施人取得许可的义务,尤其是因为其并没有主张签署许可协议的法律上权利 [143]

在这种背景下,法院指出了两个案例,在这两个案例中,标准必要专利持有人主张其排他性权利(要求禁令救济和/或召回并销毁侵权产品)的行为可能构成滥用市场支配地位:

  1. 实施人已经提出了专利持有人在不滥用其支配地位或不违反其无歧视义务的情况下便无法拒绝该条款的无条件许可要约(于此范围内,法院重申了其先前在“橙皮书标准案”中的裁决;判决日期: 2009年5月6日 – 案件号:KZR 39/06) [144]
  2. 实施人原则上有取得许可的意愿,然而标准必要专利持有人却未能遵守其支配地位所带来的“特殊责任”而做出充分的努力以促进协议的签署 [145]

侵权通知

是以,法院采纳了标准必要专利持有人有义务在提起侵权诉讼之前就针对涉案专利的侵权使用行为向实施人进行通知的观点 [146] 。联邦法院似乎认为,此项义务仅在实施人尚未意识到其构成侵权行为的情况下才会产生同上注, 段 73。 法院认为,如果专利实施人对于实施该标准即是一种未经许可而使用涉案专利说明书的行为“此一事实并不知情“,则专利持有人就必须针对专利侵权情况对其通知。

法院解释到,技术实施人原则上有义务在开展产品的制造或销售之前确保没有任何第三方的权利遭受侵害 [148] 。然而,此项工作通常具有很大的挑战性,特别是在信息和通信技术(ICT)领域中,一项产品可能会受到众多错综复杂的专利权影响 [148] 。因此,身为会定期对侵权状况进行检查的专利持有人,便有义务在发动诉讼程序之前,向实施人告知其对专利的使用情况,使实施人得以对是否需要按照FRAND条款获得许可进行评估,从而避免禁令的核发 [149]

在法院看来,通常情况下,对集团公司中的母公司发出各别的侵权通知便已经足够 [150] 。就内容而言,通知内必须指明遭到侵权的专利,并描述特定的侵权使用行为以及遭受侵害的实施例 [151] 。专利持有人不必要对侵权行为作出详细的技术与法律上分析,仅需要让实施人处于一个在专家和/或法律意见的协助下最终有能力对其被指控的侵权行为进行评估的地位即可 [151] 。一般来说,专利持有人依照实务上通常做法提出权利要求对照表就已经足够了(但不是强制性的) [151] 。 此外,联邦法院同时提到,在提供了有关被侵权的专利以及受到影响的标准等相关信息后,专利持有人可以合理期待实施人将于短时间内表明其所收到的信息并不足以对侵权行为进行评估 [152] 。这也适用于涉及多项专利和标准的情况 [152]

在考量过上述情况后,法院认为西斯维尔已经对海尔发出了适当的侵权通知。 该通知信函已于2012年12月20日发出,并且符合相关要求 [153]

取得许可的意愿

另一方面,考虑到海尔的行为,法院认为海尔并没有表现出其为愿意向西斯维尔取得FRAND许可的被许可人 [154] 。在这方面,联邦法院不同意前面上诉法院所做出的分析,并且得出了与上诉法院相反的结论。

法院认为,中国海尔对西斯维尔所发出的通知的首次回覆是迟延的,因为海尔花费了将近一年的时间(2012年12月至2013年12月)才做出回应 [155] 。一个花费数月时间才对侵权通知做出回应的实施人,其所发出的信号通常表明其对取得许可没有兴趣 [155] 。西斯维尔在2012年12月首次向海尔发出通知后才就涉案专利对欧洲电信标准协会作出FRAND承诺此一事实,并不会对评估及时性造成任何影响:在2012年12月20日所发出的信函中,西斯维尔已经表明其准备好要向海尔提供FRAND许可 [155] 。然而,有关虽然有所迟延但仍在侵权诉讼开始作出的回覆(如同本案中海尔于2013年12月所作出的答复)于评估各方是否遵守华为判决要求时是否应该被纳入考量范围中(如同本案上诉法院所推定的那样)此一问题,联邦法院并未做出决定 [156] 。在本案中,此问题并不相关,因为就海尔所做出的回覆内容而言,没有任何一项能够被视为已经充分表明其取得许可的意愿 [157]

在法院的眼中,实施人必须“清楚”且“明确”地表明其愿意依照“任何实际上符合FRAND的条款”与标准必要专利持有人达成许可协议(引用英格兰和威尔士高等法院2017年4月5日在无线星球诉华为案中所做出的判决[2017] EWHC 711(Pat)-Unwired Planet v Huawei) [158] 。实施人随后就有义务以“达成协议”为目标积极参与许可谈判 [158] 。相反地,仅仅是对侵权通知作出“表达愿意考虑签署许可协议“或”就是否以及在什么条件下取得许可提出质疑或进行谈判“的回覆是不够的 [158]

于此基础上,法院认为,海尔在2013年12月的回覆中仅表达了其希望进行“正式谈判“,并不足以表达其取得许可的意愿——该声明在上述标准下既不“清楚”也不“明确” [159]

同样地,联邦法院认为,海尔在2016年1月16日所发出的信函中也没有充分地表达其取得许可的意愿,因为海尔声明只在德国法院确认了涉案专利的有效性和侵权性的前提下才愿意签署许可协议 [160] 。尽管实施人原则上被允许在达成许可协议后保留对被许可专利的有效性进行挑战的权利,法院仍然认为,表达取得许可意愿的声明不能在带有附带条件的情况下作出 [160]

此外,联邦法院也认为,海尔于2016年3月23日发出的信函中同样没有充分地表达其取得许可的意愿。除了海尔并没有撤销上述不能被接受的条件外,法院还认为,海尔在收到侵权通知近三年以后才要求西斯维尔提供所有专利的权利要求对照表,这表明了海尔所感兴趣的只在不断拖延谈判的进行,直到涉案专利到期失效为止 [161]

由于本案中并不存在海尔明确表达其取得许可意愿的适当声明,法院并没有回答关于实施人于侵权诉讼已经被提起后是否有尚可能履行此项义务的问题 [162]

 

  • [121] Sisvel v Haier, District Court of Duesseldorf, judgment dated 3 November 2015, Case No. 4a O 93/14。
  • [122] Sisvel v Haier, Higher District Court of Duesseldorf, judgment dated 13 January 2016, Case No. I-15 U 66/15。
  • [123] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13。
  • [124] Sisvel v Haier, Higher District Court of Duesseldorf, judgment dated 30 March 2017, Case No. I-15 U 66/15。
  • [125] Federal Patent Court, judgment dated 6 October 2017, Case No. 6 Ni 10/15 (EP)。
  • [126] Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 10 March 2020, Case No. X ZR 44/18。
  • [127] Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 5 May 2020, Case No. KZR 36/17。(引自:https://juris.bundesgerichtshof.de/cgi-bin/rechtsprechung/document.py? Gericht=bgh&Art=en&sid=3abd1ba29fc1a5b129c0360985553448&nr=107755&pos=0&anz=1)。
  • [128] 同上注, 段 9以下及段59。
  • [129] 同上注, 段 52。
  • [130] 同上注, 段 54。
  • [131] 同上注, 段 56。
  • [132] 同上注, 段 57 及以下。
  • [133] 同上注, 段 58。
  • [134] 同上注, 段 59 及以下。
  • [135] 同上注, 段 61。
  • [136] 同上注, 段 63。
  • [137] 同上注, 段 62。
  • [138] 同上注, 段 61 及以下。联邦法院认为,进入市场的障碍已经因为法律上相应的阻碍使任何公司在没有获得许可的情况下进入市场都是不合理的此项事实而形成,请参见段 63。
  • [139] 同上注, 段 64。
  • [140] 同上注, 段 65。
  • [141] 同上注, 段 67 及以下。
  • [142] 同上注, 段 69。
  • [143] 同上注, 段 70。
  • [144] 同上注, 段 71。
  • [145] 同上注, 段 72。
  • [146] 同上注, 段 73 及以下。
  • [147] 同上注, 段 73。 法院认为,如果专利实施人对于实施该标准即是一种未经许可而使用涉案专利说明书的行为“此一事实并不知情“,则专利持有人就必须针对专利侵权情况对其通知。
  • [148] 同上注, 段 74。
  • [149] 同上注, 段 74 及段 85。
  • [150] 同上注, 段 89。
  • [151] 同上注, 段 85。
  • [152] 同上注, 段 87。
  • [153] 同上注, 段 86 及以下。
  • [154] 同上注, 段 91 及以下。
  • [155] 同上注, 段 92。
  • [156] 同上注, 段 93及以下。
  • [157] 同上注, 段 94。
  • [158] 同上注, 段 83。
  • [159] 同上注, 段 95。
  • [160] 同上注, 段 96。
  • [161] 同上注, 段 98。
  • [162] 同上注, 段 97。

Updated 23 一月 2018

Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 711 (Pat)

英国法院判决
5 四月 2017 - Case No. HP-2014-000005

A. Facts

The claimant is a company that grants licenses for patented technologies in the telecommunications industry. The patents at issue (EP (UK) 2 229 744, EP (UK) 2 119 287, EP (UK) 2 485 514, EP (UK) 1 230 818, EP (UK) 1 105 991, EP (UK) 0 989 712) relate to telecommunication network coding and procedures. [163] Most were part of a large patent portfolio that the claimant had acquired from a major telecommunications company in 2013. [164] In 2014, the claimant made a declaration under the ETSI IPR Policy that it was willing to grant licenses on FRAND terms. There were five technical trials relating to the validity, infringement and essentiality of these patents. This summary focuses on the non-technical trial addressed competition law issues, FRAND issues, injunctive relief and damages for past infringements. [165]

In April 2014 the claimant made an open offer to the defendant, a major international smartphone manufacturer, to grant a license in respect of the claimant’s entire global patent portfolio (containing SEPs and non-SEPs). The defendant refused the offer, contending that there was no patent infringement, that the patents were not essential, and that they were invalid. The defendant also argued that the offer was not FRAND and thus did not constitute an abuse of a dominant market position under Art. 102 TFEU. In July 2014 the claimant made a further offer, limited to the claimant’s SEPs. Again, the defendant refused, arguing that the license conditions were not FRAND. [166] In June 2015 both parties made further offers. These offers were the result of directions from the court. The claimant offered a worldwide portfolio license while the defendant wanted to limit the territorial scope to the United Kingdom. [167] Between August and October 2016 the parties exchanged further offers without reaching an agreement. [168]

The Patents Court (Birrs J) held that the claimant was in a dominant position, but did not abuse this position. [169] The defendant was not prepared to take a license on FRAND conditions and the claimant was not in breach of competition law. Thus, the court held that a final injunction to restrain patent infringements should be granted. An injunction for infringements of patents EP (UK) 2 229 744 and EP (UK) 1 230 818 was granted on 7 June 2017. [170]

B. Court’s Reasoning

1. Market Power

The court defined the relevant market for assessing dominance as a distinct market for licensing each SEP individually. [171] European case law indicated that owning an SEP could be a rebuttable presumption for the existence of a dominant position. [172] The claimant’s pleaded position was a non-admission of dominance rather than a denial coupled with a positive case to the contrary. It was the view of the court that this was insufficient to rebut the presumption. In particular, the claimant’s argument of countervailing buyer power was unconvincing because it had not been supported by a proper economic analysis. [173]

2. SEP Proprietor’s Licensing Offer

a. FRAND Declaration as Conceptual Basis

The court pointed out that that the FRAND undertaking also applied in the case that the SEP proprietor was not in a dominant position. It held that the FRAND undertaking operated as a practical constraint on a SEP owner’s market power. [174] The ETSI declaration made by the SEP proprietor is also the starting point for determining the FRAND rate. The underlying issue, which is discussed at length by the court, [175] is if such a declaration forms a contract and whether that contract can benefit third parties. The court acknowledged that the legal effect of this declaration, in particular its enforceability, is a controversial issue under French law. [176] However, the court reasoned that the FRAND declaration is an important aspect of technology standardisation. Holders of SEPs are not compelled to give a FRAND declaration. If they do, the undertaking would be enforceable and irrevocable due to public interest. [176]

The court applied a procedural approach to FRAND. It emphasised that FRAND describes not only a set of license terms, but also the process by which a set of terms are agreed. [177] It applies to both the SEP-holder and the implementer/defendant. In particular, this approach allows for starting offers that leave room for negotiation. On the other hand, making extreme offers and taking an uncompromising approach which prejudices fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory negotiation is not a FRAND approach. [178] This approach also means that the SEP proprietor is under an obligation to make a FRAND offer and to enter into FRAND license agreements. [179]

b. ‘True FRAND Rate’

The court considered that there is only a single set of terms for a given set of circumstances that would meet FRAND conditions (‘true FRAND rate’). [180] This eliminates the so-called Vringo-problem, [181] i.e. if FRAND were a range there would be two different but equally FRAND offers. Thus, if the court would grant or not an injunction, it would be unfair for the alleged infringer or SEP holder respectively. [182]

The court was of the opinion that the true FRAND rate approach does not cause problems under competition law. Theoretically, if only one set of terms is truly FRAND, and if FRAND also represents the line between abusive and non-abusive conduct under Art. 102 TFEU, then every agreed SEP-licence could be at serious risk of being abusive. [183] However, the court took the view that FRAND-compliance and compliance with Art. 102 TFEU are not the same thing (the court pointed out that the CJEU in the Huawei ruling appears to equate an obligation to make a FRAND offer with compliance with Art 102 TFEU).Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 154./span> Since Art. 102 TFEU condemns excessive pricing, [185] a royalty rate can be somewhat higher than the true FRAND rate and still not be contrary to competition law. Conversely, for a breach of competition law, it will be necessary but not sufficient that the rate is not the true FRAND rate. [185]

c. Discrimination

The court held that the correct approach is to start from a global rate as a benchmark and to then adjust this rate as appropriate. [186] It distinguished between two concepts of discrimination. First, the ‘general’ concept of non-discrimination describes an overall assessment of FRAND which can be used to derive the benchmark mentioned above. [187] It is based on the intrinsic value of the patent portfolio, but it does not depend on the licensee. The court held that this benchmark should be applied to all licensees seeking the same kind of license. [188]

Second, the ‘hard-edged’ non-discrimination obligation, which takes into account the nature of the potential licensee, [187] is a distinct concept that could be used to adjust license terms. However, the court held that the FRAND declaration does not introduce such a hard-edged non-discrimination concept. [189] If, contrary to the view taken by the court, the FRAND undertaking did include hard-edged non-discrimination, a licensee could only have the right to a lower rate granted to another licensee (i.e. a specific non-discrimination obligation resulting from the FRAND declaration) if the difference would otherwise distort competition between the two licensees. [188]

d. Territorial Scope of License

The court held that the defendant’s offer that was limited to UK licenses was not FRAND. In the court’s opinion country by country licensing is inefficient for goods such as mobile telecommunications devices that are distributed across borders. [190] It would also be inefficient to negotiate many different licenses and then to keep track of so many different royalty calculations and payments. No rational business would do this, if it could be avoided. [190] This was illustrated by the fact that the vast majority of licenses introduced in the trial were worldwide licenses. [191] Further, it is common ground that the industry assesses patent families rather than individual patents within the family. Assessing portfolios on a family basis inevitably involved tying a patent in one jurisdiction with a patent in another. [192] Thus, according to the court, a worldwide license would not be contrary to competition law. As willing and reasonable parties would agree on a worldwide licence, the insistence by the defendant on a license which was limited to the UK was not FRAND. [193]

C. Other Important Issues

1. Comparable agreements and reasonable aggregate royalty rate

The court held that for determining the royalty rate, the evidence of the parties would be relevant, including evidence of how negotiations actually work in the industry. [194] Other freely-negotiated license agreements might be used as comparables. [195] This may be compared with a top down approach [196] can also be used in which the rate is set by determining the patentee’s share of relevant SEPs and applying that to the total aggregate royalty for a standard, but this may be more useful as a cross-check. [197] Royalty rates determined by other courts might be useful as persuasive precedents. However, in the eyes of the court, a license rate determined at a binding arbitration does not carry much weight as to what parties are usually paying. [194] License agreements must meet certain criteria to be comparable. [198] First, the licensor is the claimant. Second, the license agreement is recent. However, it is not necessary that the licensee is the defendant or a comparable company because different market participants have different bargaining powers, which is reflected in the negotiations and the resulting royalty rates. [198] Finally the court confirmed that a royalty based on the handset price was appropriate and implied a reasonable aggregate royalty rate of 8.8%of the handset price. The court found that the 8.8% was reasonable, in part, because the aggregate implied by either party’s case was higher (10.4% and 13.3%). [199]

2. Principles derived from Huawei v. ZTE

The court also provided a compiled overview of its interpretation of the Huawei v. ZTE ruling. [200] In the eyes of the court, the ‘willingness to conclude a licence on FRAND terms’ refers to a willingness in general. The fact that concrete proposals are also required does not mean it is relevant to ask whether the proposals are actually FRAND or not. If the patentee complies with the procedure as set out by the CJEU, then bringing a claim for injunction is not abusive under Art 102. But even if sufficient notice is given, bringing a claim can constitute an abuse because complying with the procedure does not mean that a patentee can behave with impunity. In other words, there might be other aspects that make the claim abusive. Conversely, bringing such a claim without prior notice will necessarily be abusive.

Significantly, the court held, the legal circumstances of this case differ from the circumstances assumed by the CJEU in a crucial respect. A FRAND undertaking can be effectively enforced irrespective of Art 102. The defendant does not need Art 102 TFEU to have a defence to the injunction claim.
  • [163] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 2.
  • [164] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 54 et seqq.
  • [165] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 3.
  • [166] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 5.
  • [167] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 7-8.
  • [168] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 11-14.
  • [169] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 807.
  • [170] Unwired Planet v Huawei, EWHC 1304 (Pat).
  • [171] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 631.
  • [172] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 634.
  • [173] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 636-646.
  • [174] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 656.
  • [175] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 108-145.
  • [176] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 146.
  • [177] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 162.
  • [178] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 163.
  • [179] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 159.
  • [180] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 164.
  • [181] See Vringo v ZTE [2013] EWHC 1591 (Pat) and [2015] EWHC 214 (Pat).
  • [182] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 158.
  • [183] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 152.
  • [184] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 154./span> Since Art. 102 TFEU condemns excessive pricing,Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 153. a royalty rate can be somewhat higher than the true FRAND rate and still not be contrary to competition law. Conversely, for a breach of competition law, it will be necessary but not sufficient that the rate is not the true FRAND rate.Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 153.
  • [185] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 153.
  • [186] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 176.
  • [187] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 177.
  • [188] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 503.
  • [189] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 501.
  • [190] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 544.
  • [191] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 534.
  • [192] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 546.
  • [193] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 572.
  • [194] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 171.
  • [195] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 170
  • [196] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 178
  • [197] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 806 (10)
  • [198] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 175.
  • [199] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 476.
  • [200] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), 744.

Updated 6 五月 2021

Sisvel v Haier

德国联邦法院
24 十一月 2020 - Case No. KZR 35/17

A. Facts

The claimant, Sisvel, holds patents declared as (potentially) essential to the practice of several wireless telecommunications standards (standard essential patents, or SEPs). Sisvel has made a commitment towards the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to make SEPs accessible to users on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms and conditions.

The defendants are two European subsidiaries of the Haier group (Haier), which has its headquarters in China. The Haier group produces and markets -among other things- mobile phones and tablets complying with various standards, including the GPRS and UMTS standards developed by ETSI.

On 20 December 2012, Sisvel informed the parent company of the Haier group (Haier China) that it offers licences for its SEPs and shared a list of approx. 235 patents included in its portfolio. In August and November 2013, Sisvel sent further letters with information about its licensing program to Haier China.

Haier China replied to Sisvel only in December 2013. It expressed 'hope' to have 'a formal negotiation' with Sisvel and asked for information regarding potential discounts mentioned in previous communi­cations.

In August 2014, Sisvel made an offer for a global portfolio licence to Haier, which was rejected.

Shortly after that, Sisvel filed infringement actions against Haier before the District Court of Duesseldorf (District Court). One of the actions was based on a SEP reading on the UMTS standard (patent in suit). The other action involved a patent reading on the GPRS standard. Haier filed nullity actions against both patents asserted before the German Federal Patent Court.

During the infringement proceedings, Haier made certain counteroffers to Sisvel. These offers had a limited scope, since they covered only the patents (patent families) asserted against Haier in court.

On 3 November 2015, the District Court decided in favour of Sisvel in both cases [201] . It granted injunctions against Haier and ordered the recall and destruction of infringing products. The District Court further recognised Haier's liability for damages on the merits and ordered Haier to render full and detailed account of the sales of infringing products to Sisvel. Haier appealed both decisions.

In the subsequent proceedings before the Higher District Court of Duesseldorf (Appeal Court), Haier argued –among other things– that the District Court had not adequately taken into account the conduct requirements imposed on SEP holders by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in the Huawei v ZTE ruling [202] (Huawei judgment) rendered after Sisvel had filed the infringement actions.

On 16 January 2016, during the course of the proceedings before the Appeal Court, Haier declared that it was willing to take a FRAND licence from Sisvel, however, only in case that the German courts would finally confirm the validity and infringement of the patent in suit. Haier also requested claim charts with respect to all patents included in Sisvel's portfolio.

In December 2016, Sisvel made a further licensing offer to Haier, which was also rejected.

On 20 January 2017, that is a few weeks prior to the end of the oral arguments in the appeal proceedings, Haier made a further counteroffer to Sisvel. The licence offered would cover only the two subsidiaries of the Haier group sued in Germany. An agreement was not reached.

By two judgments dated 30 March 2017, the Appeal Court partially granted Haier's appeals in both parallel proceedings [203] . The claims for injunctive relief as well as the recall and destruction of infringing products were dismissed on the grounds that Sisvel had not complied with its obligations under the Huawei judgment, especially by failing to make a FRAND licensing offer to Haier.

Sisvel appealed the decisions of the Appeal Court.

In April 2020, the Federal Court of Justice (FCJ or Court) finally dismissed the invalidity action filed by Haier against the patent in suitFederal Court of Justice, judgment dated 28 April 2020, Case No. X ZR 35/18..

On 5 May 2020, FCJ rendered a judgment in the parallel proceedings pending between the parties concerning the patent reading on the GPRS standard [205] . The Court decided in favour of Sisvel and reversed the judgment of the Appeal Court. With the present judgmentSisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 24 November 2020, Case No. KZR 35/17 (cited by )., the Court reversed the decision of the Appeal Court also in the case involving the patent in suit.
 

B. Court's reasoning

The Court found that the patent in suit was essential to the UMTS standard and infringedIbid, paras. 10-43..

Contrary to the view previously taken by the Appeal Court, FCJ found that by initiating infringement proceedings against Haier, Sisvel had not abused a dominant market position in violation of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) [208] .
 

Dominant market position

The Court held that Sisvel had a dominant market position within the meaning of Article 102 TFEUIbid, paras. 48 et seqq..

FCJ explained that a dominant market position is given, when a patent is technically essential for comply­ing with a standard developed by a standardisation body (or a de facto standard) and technical alterna­tives to the standard are not available for products brought on a downstream marketIbid, para. 49.. Even when alternative (technical) options exist, market domi­nance can arise as long as products not using the teaching of the patent cannot compete in a (downstream) market.Ibid, para. 49. According to the FCJ, this applied with respect to the patent in suit.
 

Abuse of market dominance

The Court found, however, that Sisvel had not abused its dominant market position by filing infringement actions against HaierIbid, para. 52.. An abuse of market dominance can occur, when the SEP holder
 

  • refuses to grant a FRAND licence to an implementer willing to take such licence and brings a court action against the latter, asserting claims for injunctive relief (and/or the recall and destruction of infringing products), or
  • has not made 'sufficient efforts' in line with the 'particular responsibility' attached to its dominant position to facilitate the signing of a licence agreement with an implementer, who is, basically, willing to take a licenceIbid, para. 53..

In the eyes of the Court, in both above scenarios, the filing of an action against a 'willing' implementer amounts to an abuse, only because the latter has a claim to be contractually allowed by the SEP holder to use the teachings of the patent under FRAND conditionsIbid, para. 54.. On the other hand, an abuse is regularly not per se established by an offer made by the patent holder at the beginning of negotiations, even when the terms offered would unreasonably impede or discriminate the implementer, if contractually agreed.Ibid, para. 54. An abuse would be given, if the SEP holder insisted on such conditions also at the end of licensing negotiations with the imple­menter.Ibid, para. 54.
 

Notification of infringement

The Court explained that the 'particular responsibility' of a market dominant patent holder materializes in an obligation to notify the implementer about the infringement of the patent in suit prior to filing an action, in case that the implementer is (potentially) not aware that by complying with the standard said patent is usedIbid, para. 55..

In the present case, the Court found that by the letter dated 20 December 2012 and the following correspondence Sisvel had given proper notification of infringement to HaierIbid, para. 84..
 

Willingness

On the other hand, the Court found that Haier did not act as a licensee willing to obtain a FRAND licence from SisvelIbid, paras. 86 et seqq.. In this respect, FCJ disagreed with the Appeal Court, which had taken the opposite view.

In the Court's eyes, the implementer must 'clearly' and 'unambiguously' declare willingness to conclude a licence agreement with the SEP holder on FRAND terms and, subsequently, engage in negotiations in a 'target-oriented' manner [217] . By contrast, it is not sufficient, in response to a notification of infringement, to just demonstrate willingness to consider signing a licensing agreement or to enter into negotiations about whether and under which conditions taking a licence comes into question [217] .

The Court reasoned that the willingness of the implementer to legitimise the unauthorized use of the patent for the future by creating a respective contractual base is a prerequisite for placing the burden on the SEP holder to negotiate a FRAND licence with the implementer. [218] What is more, willingness (on both sides) is essential, because an adequate solution balancing the opposing interests of the parties results, as a rule, from an interest-based negotiation. [219] The fact that a party fails to contribute in negotiations towards a FRAND agreement will regularly be considered to its detriment. [220] An implementer, who has not shown interest in a FRAND-licence over a longer period after receipt of an infringement notification will have to undertake 'additional efforts' to make sure, that despite the delay caused a licence can be signed as soon as possible. [221]

The Court highlighted particularly that implementers should not engage in 'patent hold-out' by exploiting the 'structural disadvantage', which SEP holders face due to the limitation of their right to assert patents in court. [222] Otherwise, competition could be distorted, because the infringer would gain unfair advantages over implementers that have taken a licence in a timely manner. [222]

FCJ took the view that the above interpretation of the requirements related to the implementers' obligation to demonstrate willingness to obtain a FRAND-licence is in line with the Huawei judgment; a new referral of the respective questions to the CJEU, as requested by Haier, was not needed.Ibid, para. 63. The Huawei judgment created a 'safe harbour' against antitrust liability in the sense that compliance with the obligations established will regularly suffice to exclude an abuse of market dominance.Ibid, para. 65. Under special circumstances, however, stricter or less strict conduct duties of the parties could be justified.Ibid, para. 65.

The Court observed that the Huawei judgment supports the notion that the implementer should remain willing to obtain a licence throughout the course of negotiations.Ibid, para. 65. The 'continuous' willingness is an 'indispensable condition' for successful negotiations or, in case negotiations fail, for a finding of abuse of market dominance on the side of the SEP holder.Ibid, para. 68. The refusal of SEP holder to grant a FRAND licence would, indeed, have no relevance in antitrust terms, when the implementer is not objectively willing and able to obtain such licence. [226]

Accordingly, FCJ explained that willingness shall (still) be in place, also when the SEP holder makes a licensing offer.Ibid, para. 69. In this regard, the Court disagreed with the District Court of Duesseldorf, which had expressed the opposite view in the recent referral of certain FRAND-related questions to the CJEU in the matter Nokia v Daimler.Ibid, para. 69. See Nokia v Daimler, District Court of Duesseldorf, order dated 26 November 2020, Case No. 4c O 17/19. According to FCJ, the offer of the SEP holder is just the 'starting point' of negotiations; since FRAND is a range, it is the goal of negotiations to reach a fair and reasonable result considering the interests of both sides.Ibid, paras. 70 and 71. The implementer has, therefore, a duty to examine the FRAND-conformity of the terms of the SEP holder's offer.Ibid, para. 71. If the offer is 'obviously' not FRAND, it will be sufficient that the implementer explains the reasons why this is the case.Ibid, para. 71.

In this context, the Court made clear that the implementer's duty to examine SEP-holder's licensing offer exists, irrespective of whether the offer is, in terms of content, FRAND-compliant in every respect.Ibid, para. 72. If one would require from the SEP holder to make a 'perfect' FRAND offer right away, licensing negotiations would be obsolete.Ibid, para. 73. It is also not possible to assess the FRAND-conformity of the offer in the abstract, without reference to the aspects which each side considers relevant.Ibid, para. 74. The Court reiterated that an non-FRAND licensing offer does not per se amount to an abuse of market dominance.Ibid, para. 76.

Having said that, FCJ noted that for the assessment of the willingness of the implementer its entire conduct (including its reaction to the SEP holder's licensing offer) must be taken into account.Ibid, para. 77. Consequently, willingness can change in the course of time: a court action filed by the SEP holder could become abusive at a later point in time, if the implementer adequately raises a request for a FRAND-licence.Ibid, paras. 79 et seqq. However, the longer the implementer waits with asserting such request, the higher the threshold for considering it as a willing licensee will be. [237] The Court again noted that the above inter­pretation is in line with the Huawei judgment, so that no additional referral to the CJEU is needed, as Haier had requested.Ibid, para. 77.

Against this background, the Court observed that the first response of Haier China to Sisvel's notification almost one year after receipt of the infringement notification was belated [238] . An implementer taking several months to respond to a notification of infringement, typically, sends a signal that there is no interest in taking a licence [238] . Besides that, FCJ found that Haier's response in December 2013, in which only the 'hope' to have a 'formal negotiation' was expressed, was not a sufficient declaration of willing­ness, in terms of content [239] . Since it had reacted belatedly to the notification of infringement, Haier should have undertaken 'additional efforts' to demonstrate willingness, which had been, however, not the case. [240]

Similarly, Haier's letter dated 16 January 2016 did not contain a sufficient declaration of willingness, since Haier had made the signing of a licence subject to the prior confirmation of the validity and infringement of the patent in suit by German courts [241] . Although the implementer is, in principle, allowed to preserve the right to contest the validity of a licensed patent after conclusion of an agreement, the Court held that a declaration of willingness cannot be placed under a respective conditionIbid, para. 95.. Besides that, requesting the production of claim charts for all patents of Sisvel's portfolio almost three years after the receipt of the notification of infringement was, according to the Court, an indication that Haier was only interested in delaying the negotiations until the expiration of the patent in suit [243] .

Furthermore, FCJ found that Haier's willingness to enter into a FRAND licence could also not be extracted from the counteroffers made during the infringement proceedings.Ibid, paras. 102 et seqq. The fact that these counteroffers were, in terms of scope, limited only to the patents asserted by Sisvel in court indicated that Haier had not seriously addressed Sisvel's request for a worldwide portfolio licence. [245] Given that it had more than sufficient time to examine Sisvel's portfolio, one could expect from Haier to provide substantive grounds for such 'selective licensing'. [245]

What is more, the Court held that the counteroffer dated 20 January 2017, which Haier had made shortly before the end of the appeal proceedings, was no sufficient demonstration of willingness either.Ibid, paras. 108 et seqq. The Court focused particularly on the fact that the licence would cover only the two affiliates of the Haier group sued in Germany.Ibid, para. 116. According to FCJ, Haier had no 'legitimate interest' on such 'selective licensing'; on the contrary, a limited licence would offer no sufficient protection against infringement by other companies of the Haier group and force Sisvel to a cost-intensive assertion of its SEPs 'patent to patent and country-by-country'.Ibid, para. 118.

In addition, the Court also criticised the proposed royalty regime.Ibid, paras. 124 et seqq. Haier based the royalty calculation only on a small portion (four patent families) of the SEPs that should be included in the licence, which, in its eyes, were 'probably' essential.Ibid, para. 124. The Court reasoned that the scope of the licence must be clarified in negotiations, whereas in the ICT-sector, due to the large number of relevant patents, it is common to rely on estimations regarding both essentiality and validity, which, on the one hand, allow to take 'necessary remaining uncertainties' adequately into account and, on the other hand, help to avoid disproportionate high transaction costs.Ibid, para. 125.

Apart from that, the fact that the counteroffer was made only in the 'last minute' of the appeal proceedings allowed the conclusion that Haier was not actually aiming at signing a FRAND licence, but was rather motivated by tactical considerations with respect to the pending proceedings.Ibid, para. 126.
 

SEP holder's licensing offer

Having found that Haier had not sufficiently demonstrated willingness to obtain a FRAND licence, the Court did not examine the FRAND-conformity of Sisvel's licensing offers to Haier in the present case [253] . According to FCJ, this question is not relevant, when the implementer has not adequately expressed willingness to sign a FRAND licence.Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 24 November 2020, Case No. KZR 35/17, para. 107.

The Court highlighted that -apart from the obligation to notify the implementer about the infringement- duties of the SEP holder (including the duty to make a FRAND licensing offer) arise only if the implementer has demonstrated willingness to obtain a licence on FRAND terms.Ibid, para. 56. The FRAND-undertaking of the patent holder towards the relevant standardisation body does not change the fact that the user of a patent is, in principle, obliged to seek a licence from the right holder.Ibid, para. 56.
 

C. Other important issues

Patent ambush

The Court dismissed Haier's defence based on the 'patent ambush' argument.Ibid, paras. 127 et seqq. Haier argued that the patent in suit was unenforceable, because the initial patent holder, from whom Sisvel had acquired said patent, had failed to disclose the patent towards ETSI in due course during the development of the UMTS standard.

The Court did not examine whether a 'patent ambush' in the above sense indeed occurred in the present case.Ibid, para. 130. FCJ took the view that an implementer can assert 'patent ambush' only against the patent holder that actually participated in the standard development process; on the contrary, such defence cannot be raised against its successor (here: Sisvel).Ibid, para. 130.

Notwithstanding the above, the Court noted that a 'patent ambush' requires that the decision-making process within the relevant standardisation body was distorted by the withheld information.Ibid, para. 131. Insofar, the implementer must establish at least some indication that the standard would have taken a different form, if the information considering the relevant patent application had been disclosed in time.Ibid, paras. 131 et seq. Haier had, however, failed to do so.Ibid, paras. 131 et seq.
 

Damages

Finally, the Court found that Sisvel's damage claims were given on the merits. Negligence establishing Haier's liability for damages was given: The implementer is, in principle, obliged to make sure that no third party rights are infringed, before starting manufacturing or selling products, which Haier had not done. [260]

What is more, Sisvel's claim for damages was not limited to the amount of a FRAND licensing rate ('licensing analogy'). [261] The SEP holder is entitled to full damages, unless the implementer can assert an own counterclaim, requesting to be placed in the position, in which it would have been, in case that the SEP holder had fulfilled the obligations arising from its dominant market position. [260] An implementer is, however, entitled to such (counter)claim, only when it adequately expressed its willingness to enter into a licence, which had not been the case here.77

  • [201] Sisvel v Haier, District Court of Duesseldorf, judgment dated 3 November 2015, Case No. 4a O 144/14 (UMTS-related patent) and Case No. 4a O 93/14 (GPRS-related patent).
  • [202] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13.
  • [203] Sisvel v Haier, Higher District Court of Duesseldorf, judgment dated 30 March 2017, Case No. I-15 U 65/15 (UMTS-related patent) and Case No. I-15 U 66/15 (GPRS-related patent).
  • [204] Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 28 April 2020, Case No. X ZR 35/18.
  • [205] Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 5 May 2020, Case No. KZR 36/17.
  • [206] Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 24 November 2020, Case No. KZR 35/17 (cited by ).
  • [207] Ibid, paras. 10-43.
  • [208] Ibid, para. 44.
  • [209] Ibid, paras. 48 et seqq.
  • [210] Ibid, para. 49.
  • [211] Ibid, para. 52.
  • [212] Ibid, para. 53.
  • [213] Ibid, para. 54.
  • [214] Ibid, para. 55.
  • [215] Ibid, para. 84.
  • [216] Ibid, paras. 86 et seqq.
  • [217] Ibid, para. 57.
  • [218] Ibid, para. 58.
  • [219] Ibid, para. 59.
  • [220] Ibid, para. 60.
  • [221] Ibid, para. 62.
  • [222] Ibid, para. 61.
  • [223] Ibid, para. 63.
  • [224] Ibid, para. 65.
  • [225] Ibid, para. 68.
  • [226] Ibid, paras. 66 and 68.
  • [227] Ibid, para. 69.
  • [228] Ibid, para. 69. See Nokia v Daimler, District Court of Duesseldorf, order dated 26 November 2020, Case No. 4c O 17/19.
  • [229] Ibid, paras. 70 and 71.
  • [230] Ibid, para. 71.
  • [231] Ibid, para. 72.
  • [232] Ibid, para. 73.
  • [233] Ibid, para. 74.
  • [234] Ibid, para. 76.
  • [235] Ibid, para. 77.
  • [236] Ibid, paras. 79 et seqq.
  • [237] Ibid, para. 83.
  • [238] Ibid, para. 87.
  • [239] Ibid, paras. 88 et seqq.
  • [240] Ibid, para. 89.
  • [241] Ibid, paras. 93 et seqq.
  • [242] Ibid, para. 95.
  • [243] Ibid, paras. 96-99.
  • [244] Ibid, paras. 102 et seqq.
  • [245] Ibid, para. 102.
  • [246] Ibid, paras. 108 et seqq.
  • [247] Ibid, para. 116.
  • [248] Ibid, para. 118.
  • [249] Ibid, paras. 124 et seqq.
  • [250] Ibid, para. 124.
  • [251] Ibid, para. 125.
  • [252] Ibid, para. 126.
  • [253] The Court had, however, undertaken such analysis in its earlier decision between the same parties dated May 2020. See Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 5 May 2020, Case No. KZR 36/17, especially paras. 76-81 and 101 et seqq.
  • [254] Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 24 November 2020, Case No. KZR 35/17, para. 107.
  • [255] Ibid, para. 56.
  • [256] Ibid, paras. 127 et seqq.
  • [257] Ibid, para. 130.
  • [258] Ibid, para. 131.
  • [259] Ibid, paras. 131 et seq.
  • [260] Ibid, para. 135.
  • [261] Ibid, paras. 134 et seqq.

Updated 26 一月 2017

Canon v Sieg/Kmp Printtechnik/Part Depot

OLG Düsseldorf
29 四月 2016 - Case No. I-15 U 47/15

  1. Facts
    The proceedings before the court concerned the subsequent appeal of Defendants in Case LG Düsseldorf, 11 June 2015 – Case No. 4a O 44/14 (decision rendered before Huawei) seeking to set aside the decision of the lower court.
    Claimant, a Japanese company that produces and markets photocopiers, printers and cartridges in cooperation with undertaking “C”, is the proprietor of European patent 2 087 AAA B1 which has not been declared essential to a particular standard. Defendants “1”, “2” and “3” are involved in the supply and distribution, inter alia to Germany, of cartridges of brand “E”, being based on recycled models of and serving as substitutes for particular OEM-cartridges of Claimant. In 2011, Claimant and “C” made a commitment towards the EU Commission that their products would comply with EU-Directive 2009/125/EC. Part of this commitment is the obligation to secure interoperability of the products with non-OEM cartridges.
    The admissible appeal of Defendants has been rejected by the court of second instance.
  2. Court’s reasoning
    Even though the commitment made toward the EU Commission does, contrary to the opinion of Claimant, not constitute merely a non-binding memorandum but rather a binding declaration it executes Article 15 (2) Directive 2009/125/EC and has the sole purpose of enhancing the environmental performance of the products at issue. Hence, it can be considered neither as a direct nor as an indirect FRAND declaration and the Huawei obligations do not apply in the present case. [262] In consequence, Claimant is not obliged to present a licensing offer corresponding to FRAND terms. [263]
    Nor can Claimant’s seeking of a prohibitory injunction be considered as abusive pursuant to § 242 BGB since Claimant’s declaration could not establish a reliance worthy of protection to the effect that Defendant was entitled to make use of Claimant’s patent protected inventions. [264]
    Moreover, the cumulative conditions established by the ECJ (inter alia in IMS Health) for granting a compulsory license on the basis of Article 102 TFEU absent a standard-setting context are not fulfilled. [265]
  • [262] Case No. I-15 U 47/15, para. 72 et seq.
  • [263] Case No. I-15 U 47/15, para. 74
  • [264] Case No. I-15 U 47/15, para. 48, 78 et seq.
  • [265] Case No. I-15 U 47/15, para. 88 et seq.

Updated 3 十二月 2018

IP Bridge v HTC

曼海姆地区法院
28 九月 2018 - Case No. 7 O 165/16

A. Facts

The Claimant, IP Bridge, is a non-practising entity holding a European patent (German part) which was declared essential to the wireless telecommunications standard LTE (Standard Essential Patent or SEP) developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) [266] . The previous holder of the SEP in question had made an undertaking towards ETSI according to Article 6.1 of ETSI IPR Policy to make the patent accessible to users on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms and conditions [267] .

The Defendant is a German subsidiary of HTC, a company which manufactures and sells electronic devices worldwide, including mobile phones complying with the LTE standard [268] . The Defendant filed an action for invalidity against the Claimant’s SEP in Germany [268] .

In December 2014, the Claimant contacted the Defendant’s parent company (parent company) suggesting that the parties entered into negotiations regarding a licence for Claimant’s patent portfolio which also included the aforementioned SEP [268] . Subsequently, several licensing offers and counter-offers were made by the Claimant and the parent company respectively [268] . On 29 February 2016, the Claimant sent a letter to the parent company explaining how the LTE standard made use of the technology covered by its SEP inter alia under reference to an attached claims chart [269] . In response, the parent company confirmed that it is willing to obtain a licence, among others, by letter dated 7 September 2016 [270] . However, no licensing agreement was concluded.

On 27 September 2016, the Claimant brought an infringement action against the Defendant before the District Court of Mannheim (Court) requesting for a declaratory judgment confirming Defendant’s liability for damages arising from the use of its SEP as well as for information and rendering of accounts [271] .

On 16 February 2018, during the course of the pending proceedings against the Defendant, the Claimant made a further licensing offer to the parent company [272] . On 11 April 2018, after the parent company had signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement, the Claimant presented existing licensing agreements with third parties concerning its relevant patent portfolio (comparable agreements) to the parent company and requested the latter to respond to its last licensing offer of 16 February 2018 within one week (that is until 18 April 2018) [272] . This deadline was extended for almost three weeks until 7 May 2018 [272] .

On 15 May 2018, the Claimant extended its claims in the ongoing proceedings; in addition to its already pending claims, it sought for injunctive relief and also requested the recall and the destruction of products infringing its SEP (claims for injunction) [272] .

With the present judgment the Court ruled that the Defendant is liable for damages arising from the infringement of the SEP in suit [273] . The Court also ordered the Defendant to render accounts and to provide relevant information to the Claimant [273] . On the other hand, the Court dismissed the claim for injunctive relief and the recall and destruction of infringing products as being unenforceable for the time being [274] .


B. Court’s reasoning

The Court held that the products sold by the Defendant in Germany infringe Claimant’s SEP [275] . Thus, the Defendant is obliged to compensate the damages suffered by the Claimant and the previous holder of the patent in suit [273] . Since the Claimant has no knowledge of the details required for the quantification of the damages suffered, the Defendant is obliged to provide information on relevant uses (starting from the publication of the patent grant) and render accounts for such uses (starting from one month after the publication of the patent grant) [273] .

In the Court’s view, the Defendant cannot raise a defence based on a so-called “patent ambush” against these claims [276] . A “patent ambush” requires that the patent holder deliberately – in terms of a willful fraudulent misconduct – misled the participants in the standardisation process and intentionally prevented the adoption of an alternative technology into the standard [277] . Insofar, it needs to be established (by the defendant) that the disclosure of the patent during the standardisation process would have led to an alternative structure of the standard, which would have avoided making use of the teaching of the patent in suit; the mere theoretical possibility of an alternative technical solution does not suffice for supporting the allegation of a “patent ambush” [277] . The Court held that the Defendant failed to establish such fact [276] . Accordingly, the Court left the question regarding the legal consequences of a “patent ambush” open (obligation to licence royalty-free or just an obligation to offer FRAND licences?) [276] .

Furthermore, the Court stressed out that the FRAND undertaking given by the previous holder of the SEP in suit has no impact on both the scope and the enforceability of the above claims [278] .

In the Court’s eyes, the Claimant is bound to the FRAND undertaking made by the previous holder of the SEP in suit towards ETSI [279] . The wording of Article 6.1. ETSI IPR Policy establishes a respective assumption [279] . In any case, the assignee of a SEP abuses its market power, if it is aware of the FRAND-undertaking of its predecessor, but, nevertheless, refuses to fulfil the obligations arising from it [269] . The assignee of an SEP cannot draw benefits from the inclusion of its patent into a standard, without being bound to the FRAND commitment of its predecessor, since the latter enabled the inclusion of the SEP in the standard in the first place [269] . Indeed, antitrust law and particularly Article 101 of the Treaty for the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) obliges standard development organisations to make the inclusion of patented technology into a standard subject to a FRAND commitment of the patent holder, in order to secure that essential technology will be accessible to users [280] .

Having said that, the Court made clear that SEP holder’s claims for information and rendering of accounts are not limited by the FRAND undertaking [278] . Even if one would assume that such undertaking limits the SEP holder’s claims for damages to the amount of the FRAND royalty (which the Court left undecided), the patent holder would, nevertheless, be entitled, in principle, to information regarding the use of its SEP [278] .

In addition, the Court explained that a FRAND undertaking has also no influence on the enforceability of the claims for damages (on the merits), information and rendering of accounts asserted by the Claimant [278] . In particular, these claims are not subject to the conduct requirements set forth by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the matter Huawei v ZTEHuawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgement dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-130/13. (Huawei requirements or framework) with respect to dominant undertakings in terms of Article 102 TFEU [282] .

The opposite is, on the other hand, the case with respect to the claims for injunction asserted by the Claimant. These claims are not enforceable for the time being, since the Claimant failed to fully comply with the Huawei requirements [283] .

Regarding to the SEP in suit, the Court ruled that the Claimant has a dominant market position in terms of Article 102 TFEU: The patent is essential to the LTE standard, which, in turn, cannot be substituted by an alternative standard (from the users’ point of view) [284] .

Looking at the negotiations between the parties involved, the Court did not see any flaws in the parties’ conduct with respect to the first two steps of the framework; the Claimant had effectively notified the Defendant about the infringing use of its SEP and the Defendant (in fact, its parent company) had effectively declared its willingness to obtain a licence covering also the SEP in suit [269] . In this context, the Court pointed out that the SEP holder’s obligation to notify the user of the infringing use of its SEP is also met, when the respective notification is addressed to the parent company of the (alleged) infringer (as is was the case here, especially with the Claimant’s letter to the parent company dated 29 February 2016) [269] .

However, the Court held that the Claimant failed to fulfil its consequent obligation under the Huawei framework, namely to make a FRAND licensing offer to the Defendant (respectively its parent company) [285] .

The Court considered only two offers made by the Claimant to the Defendant’s parent company prior to the extension of its claims in the pending proceedings on 15 May 2018 (since the other offers made were either indisputably not FRAND or were not produced by the Claimant in trial) [270] .

An offer made in February 2016 was found not to be FRAND in terms of content, since it contained a clause, according to which the licensee was obliged to pay the full amount of the royalties agreed, even if only one patent of the licensed portfolio was valid and used by the Defendant [270] .

The Court reached the same conclusion also with respect to the further offer made by the Claimant on 11 April 2018 (that is short before the Claimant extended its claims in the proceedings, adding the claims for injunction) [286] . The Court held that this offer did not comply with the Huawei requirements, since the Defendant was not given sufficient time to assess the offer and eventually make a counter-offer to the Claimant, before the latter asserted the claims for injunction against him in the proceedings [270] .

In the Court’s eyes, a licensing offer complying with the Huawei requirements is only given, when the SEP holder provides the SEP user with all information required from assessing the FRAND conformity of the offer [287] . Only then, the SEP user’s consequent obligation under the Huawei framework to make a FRAND counter-offer to the SEP holder is triggered [287] . In particular, the SEP holder must make the requested royalty amount transparent with reference to a standard licensing programme implemented in the market or to rates actually paid by third parties to a patent pool, covering also patents relevant to the standard [287] . For the assessment of the non-discriminatory character of the offer, information on comparable agreements is needed [287] .

Based on the above considerations, the Court held that the period of 22 workdays between the presentation of the comparable agreements to the parent company (11 April 2018) and the assertion of the injunction claims in the proceedings by the Defendant (15 May 2018) was too short for a competent assessment of the Claimant’s licensing offer [288] . The fact that the Defendant (and/or its parent company) would have had sufficient time to react to the Claimant’s offer until the end of the oral hearings in mid-July 2018 was considered irrelevant by the Court in this respect [288] . The Huawei framework aims at preventing the situation, in which the SEP user agrees to unfavourable licensing conditions under the pressure of pending infringement proceedings (defined by the Court as “patent hold-up”) [288] . In case that the SEP holder has not fulfilled the Huawei requirements prior to the initiation of proceedings (as it was the case here), it has to make sure that the parties can again negotiated without the pressure of an ongoing trial, for instance by asking the court to stay its proceedings pursuant to Article 251 of the German Court of Civil Procedure [289] . Otherwise, the initiation of the infringement proceedings shall be considered as abusive in terms of antitrust law [289] . In the present case, the Claimant chose to not ask for a stay in the proceedings, ignoring the Court’s respective indication [289] .


C. Other issues

The Court explained that the registration in the patent register allows the registered patent holder to assert the patent rights in court [290] . On the other hand, it does not define the ownership of the patent in material legal terms [291] . Nevertheless, the patent registration establishes an assumption of ownership which must be rebutted by the defendant in infringement proceedings based on concrete indications [292] .

Besides that, the Court pointed out that a stay in the infringement proceedings (pursuant to Article 148 of the German Code of Civil Procedure) until the end of parallel invalidation proceedings concerning the patent(s) in suit can be considered only under special circumstances [293] . As a rule, it must be expected with a sufficient degree of probability that the patent(s) in suit will be invalidated [293] . The Defendant failed convince the Court that this was the case with the SEP in suit [293] .

  • [266] District Court of Mannheim, judgment dated 28 September 2018, Case-No. 7 O 165/16, page 2 and 23.
  • [267] Ibid, page 23 et seq.
  • [268] Ibid, page 5.
  • [269] Ibid, page 25.
  • [270] Ibid, page 26.
  • [271] Ibid, pages 5 et seq.
  • [272] Ibid, page 6.
  • [273] Ibid, page 19.
  • [274] Ibid,page 23.
  • [275] Ibid, pages 16 et seqq.
  • [276] Ibid, page 20.
  • [277] Ibid, page 21.
  • [278] Ibid, page 22.
  • [279] Ibid, page 24.
  • [280] Ibid, pages 24 et seq.
  • [281] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgement dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-130/13.
  • [282] District Court of Mannheim, judgment dated 28 September 2018, Case-No. 7 O 165/16, pages 22.
  • [283] Ibid,pages 23 and 25.
  • [284] Ibid, page 23.
  • [285] Ibid, pages 23 and 25 et seq.
  • [286] Ibid, pages 26 et seqq.
  • [287] Ibid, page 27.
  • [288] Ibid, page 28.
  • [289] Ibid, page 29.
  • [290] Ibid, page 10.
  • [291] Ibid, pages 10 et seq.
  • [292] Ibid, page 11.
  • [293] Ibid, page 30.

Updated 6 六月 2019

飞利浦诉华硕

荷兰法院判决
7 五月 2019 - Case No. 200.221.250/01

A. 事实

本案涉及飞利浦——一家消费电子产品制造商,其同时持有一组被宣告为对实施由欧洲电信标准协会(ETSI)所发展的数项标准而言潜在必不可少的专利组合(以下称“标准必要专利”或“SEP”),与华硕——一家生产例如笔记本电脑,平板电脑和智能手机等无线设备的制造商间的纠纷。

飞利浦早先已向欧洲电信标准协会承诺,其将以公平、合理且无歧视(FRAND)的条款向标准实施人提供其所持有的标准必要专利。特别是于1998年时,飞利浦向欧洲电信标准协会提交了一项概括性的承诺,承诺其将依照FRAND条款向实施人提供其所持有的标准必要专利。

飞利浦于2013年时将其覆盖3G-UMTS和4G-LTE无线电信标准的专利组合的持有状态向华硕告知,并对华硕提出了许可要约。在后续双方之间进行的会议中,飞利浦进一步向华硕提供了有关其专利的更多详细信息,并且提供了权利要求对照表与其专利组合中各项专利与该标准之间的对应关系的相关信息。飞利浦还向华硕提交了其许可协议模板,其中包括飞利浦许可计划中许可费率的标准以及其相应的计算方式。

双方谈判于2015年间破裂,飞利浦于是基于其所持有的包含欧盟专利1 623 511(以下称“EP 511专利”)等在内的多项专利,于英国、法国及德国等欧盟司法管辖区内提起了侵权诉讼。飞利浦曾就EP 511专利作出声明,称此专利对3G-UMTS和4G-LTE标准而言具有潜在的标准必要性。英格兰暨威尔士高等法院并作出了先行裁决,确认了EP 511专利的有效性。

在荷兰,飞利浦于海牙地区法院(以下称“地区法院”)向华硕提起诉讼,请求包含核发禁令在内的多项主张。地区法院驳回了飞利浦针对EP 511专利核发禁令的请求 [294] 。飞利浦于是向海牙上诉法院(以下称“上诉法院”)提起上诉。

根据当前判决,上诉法院确认了EP 511的有效性和标准必要性,驳回了华硕基于《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条所提出的FRAND抗辩,并就华硕相关产品侵害涉案专利权的行为对其发出了禁令 [295]


B. 法院的论理

上诉法院驳回了华硕的专利无效性抗辩,确认了EP 511专利新颖性及创造性的存在 [296] 。此外,上诉法院认为该专利具备标准必要性,并且遭受侵权 [297]

上诉法院继续审查了华硕所提出的主张,即飞利浦提起侵权诉讼要求禁令救济的行为,违反了其对欧洲电信标准协会FRAND承诺的合同义务,并且因其行为未能符合欧洲联盟法院于华为诉中兴案裁决中的要求(即“华为框架义务”)而违反了《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条 [298] 。特别是,华硕主张飞利浦(a)没有按照欧洲电信标准协会知识产权政策的要求适当且及时地揭露关于EP 511专利的信息,并且(b)飞利浦并未遵守华为框架的要求,因其并没有针对其所提出的许可要约条款为何符合FRAND进行说明。

关于前项主张(a),上诉法院认为,飞利浦在EP 511专利获得核准的两年后才对其潜在标准必要性进行声明的行为,并未违反欧洲电信标准协会知识产权政策第4.1条所要求的对标准必要专利进行“及时披露”的合同义务。 从欧洲电信标准协会规范披露义务的一般目的出发,上诉法院认为,此义务存在的目的并非如华硕所主张的那样是为了赋予欧洲电信标准协会的参与者自由选择采纳成本最低的技术方案的权利,因为欧洲电信标准协会于发展各项标准时均是力求将最佳可行技术纳入标准的 [299] 。相反的,此项披露义务存在的目的其实在于降低标准实施人事后无法取得标准必要专利的风险 [300]

尽管如此,上诉法院认为,飞利浦所作出的概括性承诺已经足以履行其于欧洲电信标准协会知识产权政策下所应承担的义务。由此角度出发,上诉法院驳回了华硕所提出的关于飞利浦针对某些特定标准必要专利的延迟声明可能会导致过度宣告的论点,相反地,上诉法院认为,过早的披露才更有可能将事实上不具备标准必要性的专利错误地纳入欧洲电信标准协会的标准中 [301] 。此外,上诉法院指出,飞利浦所作出的概括性承诺并未违反《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条的规定,因为根据欧洲联盟委员会所发行的《关于横向限制的指南》指出,概括性的承诺也是一种在欧盟竞争法下可以被接受的对标准必要专利进行宣告的形式 [302]

在驳回了华硕第一个关于FRAND抗辩的主张后,上诉法院评估了双方在谈判过程中对华为框架要求的遵循状况。作为一个初步的观点,上诉法院指出,欧洲联盟法院对华为案所做出的判决并没有创造出一套一旦专利持有人没有逐一遵守就会自动构成对《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条违反的严格规范 [303] 。因此,对案件的具体情况以及当事各方的行为进行全面性的评估是有必要的。

接下来,上诉法院审查了飞利浦对华为框架中第一个要求——对侵权人进行适当通知——的遵守情况。上诉法院认为,飞利浦很显然已经践行了其对华硕进行通知的义务,因为根据该案各项记录显示,飞利浦在谈判过程中已经对华硕提交了可能涉及侵权的各项专利清单,说明了这些专利对哪些标准而言具备标准必要性,并且表达了其按照FRAND条款进行许可的意愿 [304] 。此外,在接下来的技术协商中,飞利浦更进一步提供了有关其专利组合和许可计划的多项技术性细节,其中包括了权利要求对照表以及其授与许可的标准费率 [305] 。然而,华硕却未能表现出其按照FRAND条款取得许可的意愿。上诉法院发现,双方的谈判总是由飞利浦发起,而华硕在这些谈判中并未由有能力对飞利浦的专利组合进行评估的技术专家代表进行谈判 [306] 。华硕在谈判中提出的技术性问题只是为了拖延谈判进行的借口,换句话说,正如上诉法院所称的那样,是“一种也被称为“反向专利挟持“的行为” [307]

尽管上诉法院认为截至目前为止华硕已经违反了其在华为框架下的义务,因此飞利浦有权寻求禁令救济,法院仍然继续就华为框架中其他义务的遵循状况进行进一步的讨论。上诉法院认为,飞利浦所提出的许可协议模板完全符合欧洲联盟法院的要求,因为它非常具体,并且清楚地解释了建议的费率以及该费率是如何计算得出的 [308] 。此外,上诉法院认为,华硕在飞利浦于德国提起诉讼后才提出许可反要约的行为本身并不会改变飞利浦已经践行了华为框架义务的结论,因此飞利浦有权寻求禁令救济 [309] 。最后,法院拒绝了华硕检阅飞利浦所签署的其他类似许可协议,以评估飞利浦是否遵守FRAND的要求。法院认为,无论是根据欧洲电信标准协会知识产权政策,或者《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条,又或者是华为框架,均未对此类请求提供依据 [310]

  • [294] Koninklijke Philips N.V. v. Asustek Computers INC, District Court of the Hague, 2017, Case No. C 09 512839 /HA ZA 16-712。
  • [295] Koninklijke Philips N.V. v. Asustek Computers INC, Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgment 7 May 2019, dated Case No. 200.221.250/01。
  • [296] 同上注, 段4.63, 4.68, 4.75, 4.80, 4.82, 4.93, 4.100, 及 4.117。
  • [297] 同上注, 段4.118及以下。
  • [298] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case-No. C-170/13。
  • [299] Koninklijke Philips N.V. v. Asustek Computers INC, Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgment 7 May 2019, dated Case No. 200.221.250/01, 段4.153及以下。
  • [300] 同上注, 段4.155及4.157。
  • [301] 同上注, 段 4.159。
  • [302] 同上注, 段 4.164。
  • [303] 同上注, 段 4.171。
  • [304] 同上注, 段 4.172。
  • [305] 同上注。
  • [306] 同上注, 段4.172-4.179。
  • [307] 同上注, 段 4.179。
  • [308] 同上注, 段 4.183。
  • [309] 同上注, 段 4.185。
  • [310] 同上注, 段4.202及以下。

Updated 9 十一月 2020

诺基亚诉戴姆勒

曼海姆地区法院
18 八月 2020 - Case No. 2 O 34/19

A. 事实

原告是总部位于芬兰的诺基亚集团的一部分(Nokia,以下称“诺基亚”)。诺基亚是一个主要的通信服务提供者,并持有一系列的专利组合,而这些专利组合被宣告为实施欧洲电信标准协会(ETSI)所发展出的数种无线通信标准时(潜在)必要的专利(以下称“标准必要专利”或“SEP”)。

被告戴姆勒(Daimler)是一家遍布全球的德国汽车制造商。戴姆勒在德国生产并销售具有连网功能的汽车,而此一连网功能实施了由欧洲电信标准协会所发展出的标准。

诺基亚就本案涉案专利为实施4G / LTE标准时所必要向欧洲电信标准协会作出宣告。

欧洲电信标准协会要求各专利持有人承诺愿依照公平、合理且无歧视(FRAND)的条款和条件向标准实施人提供实施该标准时必要或可能成为必要的专利。 诺基亚于2016年6月21日通过提供一份列举所有其已向欧洲电信标准协会作出宣告为实施标准时(潜在)必要的专利及专利申请的清单对戴姆勒告知其所持有的标准必要专利组合。戴姆勒回应称其愿意在其产品确实侵害诺基亚专利权的情况下取得许可。

诺基亚在2016年11月9日首次向戴姆勒提出许可要约,并于2016年12月7日向戴姆勒提供了更多与其专利组合相关的信息。戴姆勒于2016年12月14日回覆称对其生产制造戴姆勒汽车中内建的所谓“车载信息控制单元”(TCU)的供应商进行许可将更有效率。自2017年1月起至2019年2月为止,戴姆勒均没有与诺基亚进行进一步的谈判,也没有参与诺基亚与戴姆勒供应商之间的讨论。 诺基亚于2019年2月27日向戴姆勒提出了第二份许可要约,其中更进一步添加了说明其专利与受影响标准的相关部分对应关系的权利要求对照表。戴姆勒于2019年3月19日再度拒绝了此一许可要约,其理由基本上在于,其认为诺基亚所持有的专利组合的许可费应以供应商提供给戴姆勒的组件价格而非按戴姆勒生产的汽车价格为标准计算。

随后,诺基亚在德国慕尼黑、杜塞尔多夫和曼海姆等地的地区法院对戴姆勒提起了数项侵权诉讼。

在侵权诉讼程序开启后不久,戴姆勒于2019年5月9日向诺基亚提出了许可反要约。此许可反要约中针对诺基亚专利组合的许可费的计算标准是依据戴姆勒向其供应商支付的车载信息控制单元的平均售价。诺基亚拒绝了这一许可反要约。

戴姆勒于2020年6月10日向诺基亚提出了第二次反许可要约。此反许可要约中诺基亚将能够单方面决定许可费(根据德国民法典第315条),而戴姆勒将有权就已决定的许可费向法院提出异议。第二次反许可要约也遭到诺基亚拒绝。

德国联邦反垄断办公室(以下称“反垄断办公室“)于2020年6月18日介入了曼海姆地区法院(以下称”法院“)的当前诉讼程序,并建议法院将有关FRAND承诺性质的某些问题提交至欧洲联盟法院进行审查及解释,然而法院并没有遵循反垄断办公室的建议。

法院在当前判决 [311] (引自https://www.juris.de)中对对戴姆勒核发了禁令,并确认戴姆勒应承担实质性损害赔偿的责任。法院还要求戴姆勒必须开立担保帐户并且提供计算诺基亚所受损失必需的相关信息。

 

B. 法院的论理

法院裁定戴姆勒對本案涉案专利構成侵權 [312] 。因此,诺基亚有权获得包含禁令救濟及其它訴訟主張的支持 [313] 。 戴姆勒及其参加诉讼的所屬供应商主張了所谓的“FRAND抗辯”,認為诺基亚提起侵权诉讼的行為構成了對其市場支配地位的滥用,從而违反了《欧洲聯盟運作条约》(TFEU)第102条,因此其禁令救济主张应予否决。特別是,戴姆勒等主張诺基亚未能遵守歐洲聯盟法院(CJEU)在华为诉中兴案中所確立的行為義務(以下稱“华为案判決”或“華為框架”) [314]

法院認為戴姆勒及其供应商所提出的主張無理由,因此驳回了其所提出的FRAND抗辩 [315]

 

华为框架

法院明确指出,标准必要专利持有人并不当然被禁止行使其因持有专利而享有的专属权利 [316] 。其所持有的专利属于标准必要的这一事实,并不意味着专利持有人有义务容忍第三人对其技术的使用,除非是其已经许可了该使用,或者因其处于市场支配地位而有义务必须许可该使用 [316]

当专利持有人已经遵守了其于华为框架下的义务时,则其因为行使专利权而构成对市场支配地位的滥用的情况便不会发生了 [317] 。然而,这些义务是以在未经权利持有人许可的情况下就已经使用了该项受保护技术的实施人愿意按照FRAND条款取得许可为前提条件的 [318] 。法院解释到,专利持有人并不能向法院提出对任一标准实施人“强制施加”许可协议的主张,很大部分的原因在于其并没有主张签署许可协议的法律上权利 [318] 。此外,因处于市场支配地位而衍生的“特殊责任”对标准必要专利持有人的要求在于其付出了“充分的努力”来促进与原则上有意愿取得许可的被许可人间协议的签署 [319]

 

侵权通知

法院认为,这些“努力”包括在提起侵权诉讼之前,就对涉案专利的侵权行为,以及取得许可的可能与需求,向实施人进行通知的义务 [320] 。法院在对本案进行审理后认为,诺基亚已经履行了上述义务 [321] [11]。

就内容而言,侵权通知内必须指明遭受侵权的专利,并描述具体的侵权使用行为与受侵害的实施例 [320] 。对该项侵权行为进行详细的技术上和法律上分析并不是必要的——实施人仅需要被置于一个最终能够在专家和/或法律建议的协助下对其被指控的侵权行为进行评估的地位即可 [320] 。通常情况下,提出权利要求对照表便已经足够(但不是强制性的) [320] 。法院还指出,专利持有人无需向每一个侵害其专利权的终端设备制造商的供应商个别提出单独的侵权通知 [322]

在法院看来,诺基亚于2016年6月21日、2016年11月9日、以及2016年12月7日所发出的电子邮件符合了上述要求 [323] 。诺基亚(至少在最初)没有指出涉案专利具体涉及标准文书中的哪个特定部分这一事实并不被认为是有害的,因为侵权通知的内容并不需要能够促进对侵权行为的最终评估 [324]

此外,法院认为,诺基亚没有必要在其侵权通知中明确指出根据相关标准而产生连网功能的特定组件是哪些(例如:戴姆勒汽车中内建的车载信息控制单元) [325] 。由于戴姆勒购买并在其产品中使用了这些组件,信息不足的情况是不可能发生的 [325]

 

取得许可的意愿

此外,法院认为,戴姆勒并没有充分表达其与诺基亚签订FRAND许可协议的意愿,因此不能主张FRAND抗辩来避免禁令的颁发 [326]

在法院看来,实施人必须“清楚”且“明确”地表明其愿意依照“任何实际上符合FRAND的条款”与标准必要专利持有人达成许可协议,并且随后以一种“目的性导向”的态度来进行许可谈判(引用德国联邦法院2020年5月5日在Sisvel诉Haier案中的判决– Sisvel v Haier, Case No. KZR 36/17以及英格兰和威尔士高等法院2017年4月5日在无线星球诉华为案中所做出的判决[2017] EWHC 711(Pat)-Unwired Planet v Huawei) [327] 。实施人在许可谈判中“目的性导向”的参与具有决定性的重要性,由于实施人通常在许可谈判开始之前就已经使用了该标准化技术专利,拖延许可协议的签署直至该专利到期失效为止对他们而言可能是有利的,然而,这与华为案判决的精神是背道而驰的 [328] 。因此,仅对侵权通知做出表示愿意考虑签署许可协议或就是否以及在何种条件下应该考虑取得许可进行谈判这样的回覆是不足够的 [327]

法院进一步指出,做出附带条件的许可意愿声明是不可接受的 [327] 。并且,拒绝讨论其对专利持有人发出的许可反要约有否存在任何改进的空间也可以被视为实施人一方不具备取得许可意愿的象征 [327]

基于以上所述,法院认为,戴姆勒最初以在其产品确实侵害了诺基亚的专利专利的前提下为签署许可协议的条件,并未能充分表达出其签署FRAND许可协议的意愿 [329] 。法院更表示,戴姆勒所提出的许可反要约同样不能够被认为是取得许可意愿的充分表示,特别是戴姆勒在第二次提出的许可反要约中赋予其对诺基亚单方面设定的许可费率进行挑战的权利,如此一来只会导致当事方间有关许可费率的确定的实质争议再度被拖延至将来的法律诉讼程序 [330]

法院还认为,由于戴姆勒不但没有与诺基亚进行谈判,反而是坚持要求由其供应商直接向诺基亚取得许可,戴姆勒并未扮演出一个“善意”的被许可人的角色 [331] 。此外,戴姆勒坚持以其向供应商购买车载信息控制单元组件的平均销售价格为基准计算诺基亚所持有的标准必要专利组合许可费也再度证明了戴姆勒缺乏取得许可的意愿 [332]

 

FRAND许可费的计算

法院认为,使用车载信息控制单元作为“参考价值”来为诺基亚所持有的标准必要专利组合计算许可费是不恰当的 [333]

一般来说,符合FRAND的条款和条件往往不仅只有一套,通常会存在一系列的许可条款和费用都能符合FRAND [334] 。此外,可以被认为符合FRAND的条款和条件也可能在各个行业之间以及不同的时间下有所差异 [334]

然而,法院指出,专利持有人原则上必须能够在价值链的最后阶段就其技术在可销售终端产品中的经济利益获得一定份额 [335] 。其原因在于,对该项受保护发明的实施“创造“了通过终端产品获取”经济利益“的”机会“ [335] 。法院不认同关于以最终产品的价值作为对专利技术价值的考量将使标准必要专利持有人得以从发生于价值链中其他阶段的创新发明中获益此一观点 [336] 。法院指出,有数种手段可以确保这种情况不会发生 [336]

因此,法院不赞同使用所谓的“最小可销售专利实施单元(SSPPU)“——即某一项产品中所包含的最小技术单元——作为计算FRAND许可费率的基准这一观点 [336] 。专利权穷竭所产生的影响将使得标准必要专利持有人被排除于共享在价值链的最后阶段才创造出的价值的行列之外 [336] 。除此之外,此种做法也将使的对”双重获利“行为的确认与避免变得更加复杂,而这意味着在价值链中的数个不同阶段得以对同一项专利多次进行许可 [336]

尽管如此,法院进一步阐明,上述原则并不全然意味着所有的许可协议都应该仅与终端设备制造商签署 [337] 。法院认为,即使是在供应链的其他阶段,也有多种可能可以就专利技术对可销售终端产品的价值进行评估 [337]

在这种背景下,法院认为,车载信息控制单元的销售价格并不能充分反映诺基亚所持有的标准必要专利对戴姆勒所生产的汽车——即本案中相关终端设备——的价值 [338] 。 车载信息控制单元的销售价格仅仅能够反应出戴姆勒本身的相应成本 [339] 。另一方面,连网功能使戴姆勒得以从为其客户提供其他额外服务中获得收益,节省成本并优化研发费用 [340] 。连网功能确保了创造此一价值的机会 [341] 。此外,法院指出,戴姆勒的几个主要竞争对手均接受了Avanci平台的许可模式(即专门向汽车制造商授予许可)这一事实更进一步展现出着重于受保护技术对终端产品的价值在汽车行业中也是合理的 [342]

 

无歧视

此外,法院认为,诺基亚对戴姆勒所提出的专利权主张并不具有歧视性,是以戴姆勒坚持许可必须由其供应商取得的主张无理由 [343]

法院进一步阐明,专利持有人原则上有权自由选择于供应链中的哪一个阶段主张其权利 [344] 。而这对处于市场支配地位的专利持有人而言亦无不同,因为竞争法本身并不当然限制此种可能性 [344] 。并且,处于市场支配地为的专利持有人也没有义务向所有潜在的被许可人提供一个“标准费率” [344]

《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条所规定的无歧视义务旨在防止对上游或下游市场竞争的妨碍,然而,其并不排除当有充分的理由存在时给予被许可人不同的待遇 [345]

在本案中,法院认为没有迹象表明诺基亚主张使用终端产品作为计算其专利许可费的基础将会对竞争产生影响 [346] 。特别是,尽管在汽车行业中存在通常由供应商取得出售给汽车制造商的零部件的使用许可这一事实,也不意味着诺基亚需要改变其通常惯例,尤其是通过Avanci平台授予戴姆勒竞争对手许可的实例已经表明,该于通信行业盛行的相应惯例已经在汽车行业中获得采纳 [347] 。此外,法院也不认为对终端设备制造商主张标准必要专利权可能会导致对其生产、销售和技术发展层面的限制从而损害消费者权益 [348] 。在这方面,法院引用了所谓的“委托制造权”,根据ETSI知识产权政策,该权利应被包含在FRAND许可协议中,并允许零组件制造商生产、销售和开发其产品 [349]

 

标准必要专利持有人所提出的许可要约 / 信息披露义务

此外,法院认为,戴姆勒无法通过主张诺基亚拒绝提供与其所提出的许可要约相关的充分信息来合理化自身不愿意取得许可的意愿 [350]

法院指出,标准必要专利持有人有义务证明其所提出的许可要约具备FRAND符合性 [351] 。如果专利持有人已经与第三方被许可人签订了非标准条款的许可协议,则专利持有人通常有义务以某种使实施人得以对其是否被提供了不同的商业条款进行评估的方式披露并呈现(至少包含)关键合同条款在内的协议内容 [351] 。关于此项义务所包含的范围与详细程度应依个案具体情况决定 [351]

考虑到这一点,法院认为,通过提交包含一项有关连网汽车价值的研究以及其与另一家主要汽车制造商间签署的许可协议在内的各项信息,诺基亚已经向戴姆勒提供了足够的信息 [352] 。于此脉络下,法院否认了诺基亚有向戴姆勒披露其与智能手机制造商间签署的许可协议的义务。法院拒绝了有关标准必要专利持有人的信息披露义务应延伸至涵盖此前签署的每一个许可协议的全部内容,并且标准必要专利持有人有义务披露所有现存许可协议的观点 [353] 。此外,法院更指出,通信行业中的许可协议对于评估汽车行业中的许可协议是否符合FRAND而言并无关联 [353]

 

供应商提出的FRAND抗辩

除上述几点外,法院还强调,戴姆勒无法从其参加本诉讼程序的供应商所提出的FRAND抗辩中获益 [354]

法院并未就关于被起诉的终端设备制造商原则上是否可以倚仗其供应商之一所提出的FRAND抗辩这一问题作出明确答覆。然而,法院认为,这将取决于该供应商在任何情况下均愿意由专利持有人处取得以终端产品为标准计算涉案专利价值(而非该产品的组件)的许可 [355] 。而在当前诉讼中情况并非如此 [356]

法院并没有忽略供应商可能将其向标准必要专利持有人支付的许可费转嫁在其客户身上这一问题 [357] 。然而,与第三方之间的合同约定(此处为供应商与终端设备制造商之间的协议),在法院看来,不应导致一个不允许标准必要专利持有人共享其专利技术为终端产品创造出的价值的许可协议的结果 [357]
 

C. 其他重要问题

最后,法院做出与反垄断办公室的建议相反的裁定,认为没有必要中止诉讼程序并将围绕着标准必要专利持有人的FRAND承诺是否将赋予价值链中的每一参与者直接对其主张获取双边许可的权利(即“对所有人进行许可”观点),抑或者是只对取得并使用标准化技术有主张的权利(即“所有人皆有权使用”的观点)等一系列问题提交欧洲联盟法院寻求答覆。

法院并未就此问题做出答覆,因为不论是戴姆勒还是其供应商均不愿意以该受保护技术为戴姆勒制造的汽车所创造出的价值为基准向诺基亚取得符合FRAND条款的许可 [358] 。法院还指出,就本案涉案专利将于从现在开始起算的几年后到期失效这一事实而言,也不应该中止本诉讼程序 [359]
 

  • [311] Nokia v Daimler, District Court of Mannheim, judgment dated 18 August 2020, Case-No. 2 O 34/19。
  • [312] 同上注, 段 49-136。
  • [313] 同上注, 段 138。
  • [314] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13。
  • [315] Nokia v Daimler, District Court of Mannheim, judgment dated 18 August 2020, Case-No. 2 O 34/19, 段 144。
  • [316] 同上注, 段 146。
  • [317] 同上注, 段 147。
  • [318] 同上注, 段 148。
  • [319] 同上注, 段 149。
  • [320] 同上注, 段 152。
  • [321] 同上注, 段 151-156。
  • [322] 同上注, 段 248。
  • [323] 同上注, 段 153 及以下。
  • [324] 同上注, 段 154。
  • [325] 同上注, 段 155。
  • [326] 同上注, 段 157-231。
  • [327] 同上注, 段 158。
  • [328] 同上注, 段 159。
  • [329] 同上注, 段 161。
  • [330] 同上注, 段 197-199。
  • [331] 同上注, 段 157, 160 及 162-164。
  • [332] 同上注, 段 160 及 165-168。
  • [333] 同上注, 段 169。
  • [334] 同上注, 段 170。
  • [335] 同上注, 段 171。
  • [336] 同上注, 段 172。
  • [337] 同上注, 段 173。
  • [338] 同上注, 段 174 及以下。
  • [339] 同上注, 段 174。
  • [340] 同上注, 段 177。
  • [341] 同上注, 段 180。
  • [342] 同上注, 段 187 及以下。
  • [343] 同上注, 段 201-212。
  • [344] 同上注, 段 202。
  • [345] 同上注, 段 203。
  • [346] 同上注, 段 205。
  • [347] 同上注, 段 210。
  • [348] 同上注, 段 213。
  • [349] 同上注, 段 215。
  • [350] 同上注, 段 216 及以下。
  • [351] 同上注, 段 217。
  • [352] 同上注, 段 218。
  • [353] 同上注, 段 230。
  • [354] 同上注, 段 232 及以下。
  • [355] 同上注, 段 234, 236 及以下。
  • [356] 同上注, 段 240 及以下。
  • [357] 同上注, 段 239。
  • [358] 同上注, 段 253 及 291。
  • [359] 同上注, 段 291。

Updated 2 十月 2019

Sisvel v Xiaomi, Court of The Hague

荷兰法院判决
1 八月 2019 - Case No. C/09/573969/ KG ZA 19-462

A. Facts

In 2012, the Claimant, Sisvel International (Sisvel), acquired from Nokia patents EP 1 129 536 B1 (EP 536) and EP 1 119 997 B1 (EP 997) [360] . EP 536 and EP 997 that have been declared standard essential patents (SEPs). EP 536 relates to the EGPRS/EDGE functionality of the GSM standard, while EP 997 has been declared essential to the LTE standard [361] .

On 10 April 2013, Sisvel made a FRAND commitment to the ETSI with a list of patents declared as essential, including EP 536 and EP 997 [362] .

Sisvel contacted the Defendant, Xiaomi, on 15 October 2013 for a license under the Sisvel Wireless Patents [363] , under which patents EP 536 and EP 997 are licensed.

Sisvel sent a further letter dated 16 July 2014 and followed up by emails on 3 December 2014, 4 December 2014 and 5 March 2015 inviting Xiaomi to contact Sisvel to negotiate a FRAND license [364] .

On 21 November 2018, Belsimpel (a Dutch online retailer) announced on its website that Xiaomi had selected Belsimpel as its official partner in the Netherlands [365] .

On 29 March 2019, Xiaomi prepared to enter the Dutch market by opening physical stores and online shops [366] .

On 23 April 2019, Sisvel filed proceedings against Xiaomi in London, seeking a declaration that the terms and conditions of the MCP Pool License (under which EP 536 and EP 997 are licensed) are FRAND or, in the alternative, the determination of a FRAND rate, and that three of the MCP patents (including EP 536 and EP 997) are valid and infringed [367] .

In the current proceedings before the Court of The Hague (the Court), launched on 29 May 2019, Sisvel sought a preliminary injunction against Xiaomi; a preliminary injunction to be imposed until Xiaomi agrees on Sisvel’s offer to go to arbitration, or alternatively the removal of the EGPRS/EDGE and LTE functionalities in Xiaomi’s products [361] . The Court rejected Sisvel’s injunction request, considering the urgency requirement was not fulfilled [368] and concluded that the removal of standardised functionalities or standard-compliant products from the market would be too damaging to Xiaomi [369] .

B. Court’s reasoning

Urgency

Xiaomi challenged the adequacy of a preliminary ruling for this case in view of the complexity of the matter and the balance of parties’ interests [368] . The Court accepted this argument and referred to the circumstances of the case to reject the preliminary injunction [370] .

The Court stated that FRAND licensing disputes are not well suited to preliminary rulings. As the SEP-holder has committed to license its SEPs on FRAND terms and conditions, the damages it suffers from the infringement is the absence of a FRAND license and related compensation [371] . The Court further added that in compliance with the CJEU ruling in Huawei v. ZTE, [372] a SEP-holder is not prevented from seeking an injunction against an infringer [371] . However, the urgency requirement for an injunction on SEPs is higher than for a common patent infringement cases [370] .

When assessing each party’s interests, the Court considered that the damage to Xiaomi, active in the Netherlands since March 2019, would be high: Xiaomi would either have to remove the EGPRS/EDGE and LTE functionality from its phones or stop selling the relevant phones on the Dutch market [373] . On Sisvel’s side, the Court found a lack of urgency in view of the circumstances of the case: Sisvel was looking for an international FRAND license and negotiations had lasted for 6 years, that the Court considered as a counterindication of urgency [370] . The Court declared, however, that the fact EP 997 was due to expire soon was irrelevant for the assessment of urgency, as Sisvel holds other SEPs in its portfolio that will last for longer term [370] .

Another factor that the Court found important, in balancing the interests of each side, was that Sisvel had, in parallel to the Dutch proceedings, also asked the High Court in London to declare that Sisvel’s FRAND rate was indeed FRAND or, in the alternative, to set an international FRAND rate for Sisvel’s portfolio. Sisvel had committed to comply with the rate the High Court would set, even in the Dutch proceedings [374] .

The Court concluded that Sisvel was seeking an injunction which could simply be avoided through the payment of a FRAND rate [370] . And if the Court determined a FRAND rate in a preliminary ruling which turned out to be higher than a FRAND rate determined in a full trial on merits in the High Court in London or the Netherlands, then legal uncertainty would follow [370] . The Court also stated that Sisvel’s sole interest was to receive FRAND compensation. It thus considered the preliminary injunction proceedings to be more a means for Sisvel to force Xiaomi to the negotiations table and to pay a compensation that may not necessarily be FRAND [375] . The Court therefore refused to grant Sisvel injunctive relief.

  • [360] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 1 August 2019, par. 2.2.
  • [361] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 1 August 2019, par. 3.1.
  • [362] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 1 August 2019, par. 2.9.
  • [363] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 1 August 2019, par. 2.11.
  • [364] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 1 August 2019, par. 2.12.
  • [365] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 1 August 2019, par. 2.14.
  • [366] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 1 August 2019, par. 2.15.
  • [367] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 1 August 2019, par. 2.16.
  • [368] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 1 August 2019, par. 4.2 and following.
  • [369] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 1 August 2019, par. 4.4
  • [370] Ibidem
  • [371] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 1 August 2019, par. 4.3.
  • [372] Court of Justice of the European Union, Huawei v ZTE, judgment dated 6 July 2015.
  • [373] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 1 August 2019, par. 4.4.
  • [374] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 1 August 2019, par. 4.5.
  • [375] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 1 August 2019, par. 4.6.

Updated 30 十月 2018

Unwired Planet v Huawei, UK Court of Appeal

英国法院判决
23 十月 2018 - Case No. A3/2017/1784, [2018] EWCA Civ 2344

A. Facts

The Claimant, Unwired Planet International Limited, holds a significant portfolio of patents which are essential for the implementation of the 2G/GSM, 3G/UMTS and 4G/LTE wireless telecommunications standards (Standard Essential Patents, or SEPs). The Defendants, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Huawei Technologies (UK) Co. Ltd., manufacture and sell mobile devices complying with the above standards worldwide.

Starting in September 2013, the Claimant contacted the Defendants several times, requesting the latter to engage in discussions for a licence regarding its SEP portfolio. [376] In March 2014, the Claimant sued the Defendants as well as Samsung and Google for infringement of five of its UK SEPs before the UK High Court of Justice (High Court). [377] The Claimant also initiated parallel infringement proceedings against the Defendants in Germany. [378]

The High Court conducted three technical trials first, focusing on the validity and essentiality of four of the SEPs in suit. [379] By April 2016, these trials were completed; the High Court held that two of the SEPs in suit were both valid and essential, whereas two other patents were found to be invalid. [379] The parties agreed to postpone further technical trials indefinitely. [379]

In July 2016, Samsung took a licence from the Claimant covering, among other, the SEPs in suit. [380] The Claimant also settled the infringement proceedings with Google. [381]

In late 2016, the trial concerned with questions regarding to the licensing of the SEPs in suit commenced between the Claimant and the Defendants. Over the course of these proceedings the parties made licensing offers to the each other. However, they failed to reach an agreement. The Defendants indicated they were willing to take a licence under Claimant’s UK patent portfolio, whereas the Claimant contended that it was entitled to insist upon a worldwide licence. [382]

In April 2017, the High Court granted an UK injunction against the Defendant, until such time as it entered into a worldwide licensing agreement with the Claimant on the specific rates, which the court determined to be Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) [383] in accordance with the undertaking given by the Claimant towards the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). [384] Pending appeal, the High Court stayed the injunction. [385]

Shortly after the High Court delivered its decision, the Defendants began proceedings against the Claimant in China, which are still pending. [386]

With the present judgment, the UK Court of Appeal dismissed the Defendants’ appeal against the decision of the High Court. [387]


B. Court’s reasoning

The Defendants appealed the decision of the High Court on the following three grounds:

1. The High Court’s finding that only a worldwide licence was FRAND is erroneous; the imposition of such a licence on terms set by this court based on a national finding of infringement of UK patents is wrong in principle. [388]

2. The offer imposed to the Defendants by the High Court is discriminatory in violation of Claimant’s FRAND undertaking, since the rates offered are higher than the rates reflected in the licence granted by the Claimant to Samsung. [389]

3. The Claimant is not entitled to injunctive relief; by bringing the infringement proceedings against the Defendants, without meeting the requirements established by the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) in the matter Huawei v ZTE [390] (Huawei judgment) before, the Claimant abused its dominant market position in violation of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”). [391]

Notably, the High Court’s determination of the rates which apply to the worldwide licence that the court requested the Defendants to take was not challenged by any of the parties to the proceedings. [392]


1. Worldwide licences

The Court of Appeal disagreed with the Defendants’ notion that imposing a worldwide licence on an implementer is wrong, because it amounts to an (indirect) interference with foreign court proceedings relating to patents subsisting in foreign territories, which would have been subject to materially different approaches to the assessment of FRAND royalty rates and could, therefore, lead to different results (particularly the ongoing litigation between the parties in China and Germany). [393]

The Court of Appeal explained that in imposing a worldwide licence the High Court did neither adjudicate on issues of infringement or validity concerning any foreign SEPs, nor was it deciding what the appropriate relief for infringement of any foreign SEPs might be (particularly since it made clear that a FRAND licence should not prevent a licensee from challenging the validity or essentiality of any foreign SEPs and should make provision for sales in non-patent countries which do not require a licence) [394] . [395]

Moreover, the High Court simply determined the terms of the licence that the Claimant was required to offer to the Defendants pursuant to its FRAND undertaking towards ETSI. [396] Such an undertaking has international effect. [397] It applies to all SEPs of the patent holder irrespective of the territory in which they subsist. [398] This is necessary for two reasons: first, to protect implementers whose equipment may be sold and used in a number of different jurisdictions. [398] Second, to enable SEP holders to prevent implementers from “free-riding” on their innovations and secure an appropriate reward for carrying out their research and development activities and for engaging with the standardisation process. [399]

Accordingly, the High Court had not erred in finding that a worldwide licence was FRAND. On the contrary, there may be circumstances in which only a worldwide licence or at least a multi-territorial licence would be FRAND. [400] German Courts (in Pioneer Acer [401] and St. Lawrence v Vodafone [402] ) as well as the European Commission in its Communication dated 29 November 2017 [403] had also adopted a similar approach. [404]

Having said that, the Court of Appeal recognized that it may be “wholly impractical” for a SEP holder to seek to negotiate a licence for its patents on a country-by-country basis, just as it may be “prohibitively expensive” to seek to enforce its SEPs by litigating in each country in which they subsist. [399] In addition, if in the FRAND context the implementer could only be required to take country-by-country licences, there would be no prospect of any effective injunctive relief being granted to the SEP holder against it: the implementer could avoid an injunction, if it agreed to pay the royalties in respect of its activities in any particular country, once those activities had been found to infringe. [405] In this way, the implementer would have an incentive to hold out country-by-country, until it was compelled to pay. [405]

In its discussion of this topic, the Court of Appeal disagreed with the view taken by the High Court that in every given set of circumstances only one true set of FRAND terms exists. Nevertheless, the court did not consider that the opposite assumption of the High Court had a material effect to the its decision. [406]

In the eyes of the Court of Appeal, it is “unreal” to suggest that two parties, acting fairly and reasonably, will necessarily arrive at precisely the same set of licence terms as two other parties, also acting fairly and reasonably and faced with the same set of circumstances. [407] The reality is that a number of sets of terms may all be fair and reasonable in a given set of circumstances. [407] Whether there is only one true set of FRAND terms or not, is, therefore, more of a “theoretical problem” than a real one. [408] If the parties cannot reach an agreement, then the court (or arbitral tribunal) which will have to determine the licensing terms will normally declare one set of terms as FRAND. The SEP holder would then have to offer that specific set of terms to the implementer. On the other hand, in case that the court finds that two different sets of terms are FRAND, then the SEP holder will satisfy its FRAND undertaking towards ETSI, if it offers either one of them to the implementer. [408]

Furthermore, the Court of Appeal dismissed Defendants’ claim that imposing a worldwide licence is contrary to public policy and disproportionate. [409] In particular, the Defendants argued that this approach encourages over-declaration of patents [410] and is not compatible with the spirit of the Directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, [411] which requires relief for patent infringement to be proportionate. [412]

Although the Court of Appeal recognised the existence of the practice of over-declaration and acknowledged that it is a problem, it held that this phenomenon cannot justify “condemning” SEP holders with large portfolios to “impossibly expensive” litigation in every territory in respect of which they seek to recover royalties. [413] The court also found that there was nothing disproportionate about the approach taken by the High Court, since the Defendants had the option to avoid an injunction by taking a licence on the terms which the court had determined. [414]


2. Non-discrimination

The Court of Appeal rejected the Defendants’ argument [415] that the non-discrimination component of Claimant’s FRAND undertaking towards ETSI obliges the Claimant to offer to the Defendants the same rates as those contained in the licence granted to Samsung. [416]

The Court of Appeal made clear that the obligation of the SEP holder not to discriminate is, in principle, engaged in the present case, since the Claimant’s transaction with the Defendants is equivalent to the licence it granted to Samsung. [417] In the court’s eyes, when deciding whether two transactions are equivalent one needs to focus first on the transactions themselves. Insofar, differences in the circumstances in which the transactions were entered into, particularly economic circumstances, such as the parties’ financial position [418] or market conditions (e.g. cost of raw materials), cannot make two otherwise identical transactions non-equivalent (releasing, therefore, the patent holder from the obligation not to discriminate). Changes in such circumstances could only amount to an objective justification for a difference in treatment. [419]

Considering the specific content of the SEP holder’s respective obligation, the Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court’s finding that the non-discrimination element of a SEP holder’s FRAND undertaking does not imply a so-called “hard-edged” component (imposing on the patent holder an obligation to offer the same rate to similarly situated implementers). [420] It argued that the “hard-edged” approach is “excessively strict” and fails to achieve a balance between a fair return to the SEP owner and universal access to the technology. [421] It could have the effect of compelling the SEP holder to accept a level of compensation for the use of its invention which does not reflect the value of the licensed technology and, therefore, harm the technological development of standards. [422]

Furthermore, the “hard-edged” discrimination approach should be rejected also because its effects would result in the insertion of the “most favoured licensee” clause in the FRAND undertaking. In the view of the Court of Appeal, the industry would most likely have regarded such a clause as inconsistent with the overall objective of the FRAND undertaking. [423]

Conversely, the Court of Appeal followed the notion described by the High Court as the “general” non-discrimination approach: [424] the FRAND undertaking prevents the SEP holder from securing rates higher than a “benchmark” rate which mirrors a fair valuation of its patent(s), but it does not prevent the patent holder from granting licences at lower rates. [424] For determining the benchmark rate, prior licences granted by the SEP holder to third parties will likely form the “best comparables”. [425]

The Court of Appeal argued that the “general” approach is in line with the objectives of the FRAND undertaking, since it ensures that the SEP holder is not able to “hold-up” implementation of the standard by demanding more than its patent(s) is worth. [426] However, the FRAND undertaking does not aim at leveling down the royalty owed to the SEP holder to a point where it no longer represents a fair return for its patent(s), or to removing its discretion to agree royalty rates lower than the benchmark rate, if it chooses to do so. [426]

In this context, the Court of Appeal made clear that it does not consider differential pricing as per se objectionable, since it can in some circumstances be beneficial to consumer welfare. [427] The court sees no value in mandating equal pricing for its own sake. On the contrary, once the hold-up effect is dealt with by ensuring that licences are available at the benchmark rate, there is no reason for preventing the SEP holder from charging less than the licence is worth. [427] Should discrimination appear below the benchmark rate, it should be addressed through the application of competition law; as long as granting licences at rates lower than the benchmark rate causes no competitive harm, there is no reason to assume that the FRAND undertaking constrains the ability of the SEP holder to do so. [428]


3. Abuse of dominant Position / Huawei v ZTE

The Court of Appeal further rejected Defendants’ argument that, by bringing the infringement proceedings prior to fulfilling the obligations arising from the Huawei judgment, the Claimant abused its dominant market position in violation of Article 102 TFEU. [429]

To begin with, the Court of Appeal confirmed the finding of the High Court that the Claimant held a dominant market position and dismissed the respective challenge by the latter. [430] It did not find any flaw in the High Court’s view that the SEP holder has a 100% market share with respect to each SEP (since it is “common ground” that the relevant market for the purpose of assessing dominance in the case of each SEP is the market for the licensing of that SEP [431] ) and that the constrains imposed upon the SEP holder’s market power by the limitations attached to the FRAND undertaking [432] and the risk of hold-out that is immanent to the structure of the respective market, [433] can either alone or together rebut the assumption that it most likely holds market power. [434]

Notwithstanding the above, the Court of Appeal held that the Claimant had not abused its market power in the present case. [435]

The court agreed with the finding of the High Court that the Huawei judgment did not lay down “mandatory conditions”, in a sense that that non-compliance will per se render the initiation of infringement proceedings a breach of Article 102 TFEU. [436] The language used in the Huawei judgment implies that the CJEU intended to create a “safe harbor”: if the SEP holder complies with the respective framework, the commencement of an action will not, in and of itself, amount to an abuse. [437] If the SEP holder steps outside this framework, the question whether its behaviour has been abusive must be assessed in light of all of the circumstances. [438]

In the court’s eyes, the only mandatory condition that must be satisfied by the SEP holder before proceedings are commenced, is giving notice to the implementer about the infringing use of its patents. [439] This follows from the clear language used by the CJEU with respect to this obligation. [440] The precise content of such notice will depend upon all the circumstances of the particular case. [440] In general, if an alleged infringer is familiar with the technical details of the products it is dealing and the SEP it may be infringing, but has no intention of taking a licence on FRAND terms, it will not be justified to deny the SEP holder an injunction, simply because it had not made a formal notification prior to the commencement of proceedings. [441]

On the merits, the court accepted the High Court’s assessment that the Claimant had not behaved abusively and particularly the finding, that the Defendants, who were in contact with the Claimant prior to the proceedings, had sufficient notice that the Claimant held SEPs which ought to be licensed, if found infringed and essential. [442]

Considering further that the respective conduct requirements were not established at the point in time, in which the infringement action was filed (since the present proceedings were initiated before the CJEU delivered the Huawei judgment), the Court of Appeal noted that it would very likely not be fair to accuse the Claimant of abusive behavior. [443] Insofar the court agreed with the respective approach developed by German courts in co-called “transitional” cases (Pioneer v Acer, [444] St. Lawrence v Vodafone [444] and Sisvel v Haier [445] ) [446] .

  • [376] Unwired Planet v Huawei, UK Court of Appeal, 23 October 2018, Case-No. A3/2017/1784, [2018] EWCA Civ 2344, para. 233.
  • [377] Ibid, para. 6 et seqq.
  • [378] Ibid, para. 233.
  • [379] Ibid, para. 7.
  • [380] Ibid, paras. 8 and 137 et seqq.
  • [381] Ibid, para. 8.
  • [382] Ibid, para. 9 et seqq.; para. 31 et seqq.
  • [383] Ibid, para 17.
  • [384] Ibid, para 130.
  • [385] Ibid, para 18.
  • [386] Ibid, para 112.
  • [387] Ibid, para 291.
  • [388] Ibid, paras. 19 and 45 et seqq.
  • [389] Ibid, paras. 20 and 132 et seqq.
  • [390] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgement dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13.
  • [391] Unwired Planet v Huawei, UK Court of Appeal, 23 October 2018, para. 21, paras. 211 et seqq and para. 251.
  • [392] Ibid, para. 17.
  • [393] Ibid, paras. 74 and 77 et seq.
  • [394] Ibid, para. 82.
  • [395] Ibid, para. 80.
  • [396] Ibid, para. 79 et seq.
  • [397] Ibid, para. 26.
  • [398] Ibid, para. 53.
  • [399] Ibid, para. 54 et seq., para. 59.
  • [400] Ibid, para. 56.
  • [401] Pioneer v Acer, District Court of Mannheim, judgement dated 8 January 2016, Case No. 7 O 96/14.
  • [402] St. Lawrence v Vodafone, District Court of Düsseldorf, judgement dated 31 March 2016, Case No. 4a O 73/14.
  • [403] Communication From the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee, “Setting out the EU Approach to Standard Essential Patents”, 29 November 2017, COM(2017) 712 final.
  • [404] Unwired Planet v Huawei, UK Court of Appeal, 23 October 2018, para. 74.
  • [405] Ibid, para. 111.
  • [406] Ibid, para. 128.
  • [407] Ibid, para. 121.
  • [408] Ibid, para. 125.
  • [409] Ibid, para. 75.
  • [410] Ibid, para. 92
  • [411] Directive 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights (Official Journal of the EU L 195, 02/06/2004, p. 16)
  • [412] Unwired Planet v Huawei, UK Court of Appeal, 23 October 2018, para. 94.
  • [413] Ibid, para. 96.
  • [414] Ibid, para. 98.
  • [415] Ibid, para. 20 and 132 et seqq.
  • [416] Ibid, paras. 207 and 210.
  • [417] Ibid, para. 176.
  • [418] Ibid, para. 173.
  • [419] Ibid, para. 169 et seq.
  • [420] Ibid, paras. 194 et seqq.
  • [421] Ibid, para. 198.
  • [422] Ibid, para. 198.
  • [423] Ibid, para. 199.
  • [424] Ibid, para. 195.
  • [425] Ibid, para. 202.
  • [426] Ibid, para. 196.
  • [427] Ibid, para. 197.
  • [428] Ibid, para. 200.
  • [429] Ibid, para. 21, paras. 211 et seqq and para. 251.
  • [430] Ibid, para. 212.
  • [431] Ibid, para. 216.
  • [432] Ibid, para. 219.
  • [433] Ibid, para. 220.
  • [434] Ibid, para. 229.
  • [435] Ibid, para. 284.
  • [436] Ibid, para. 269.
  • [437] Ibid, para. 270.
  • [438] Ibid, para. 269 and 282.
  • [439] Ibid, para. 253 and 281.
  • [440] Ibid, para. 271.
  • [441] Ibid, para. 273.
  • [442] Ibid, para. 284
  • [443] Ibid, para. 275
  • [444] See above
  • [445] Sisvel v Haier, Higher District Court of Düsseldorf, judgement dated 30 March 2017, Case No. 15 U 66-15.
  • [446] Unwired Planet v Huawei, UK Court of Appeal, 23 October 2018, para. 279.

Updated 27 六月 2018

OLG Düsseldorf 3

OLG Düsseldorf
25 四月 2018 - Case No. I-2 W 8/18

A. Facts

The Claimant holds a patent essential to a technical standard (Standard Essential Patent or SEP) which is subject to a so-called “FRAND-undertaking”, that is a commitment to make the SEP accessible to users on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms and conditions. The Claimant entered into nego¬tiations for a FRAND licensing agreement with the Defendant. In June 2017, the parties signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). [447] A few days later, the Claimant entered into an NDA also with a third party, the Intervener . Shortly after signing the NDA, the Intervener [448] argued that several clauses of the agreement were void. [449]

In September 2017, the Claimant initiated infringement proceedings against the Defendant before the District Court of Düsseldorf (District Court). The Intervener joined these proceedings in support of the Defendant. After joining the proceedings, the Intervener claimed that the NDA with the Claimant does not cover information which the latter has to produce in the trial. This is particularly the case with infor-mation regarding to comparable licensing agreements concluded by the Claimant with third parties (comparable licences), which the Claimant regarded as strictly confidential. [450]

In December 2017, the Intervener requested full access to the court files. [451] The District Court dismissed the Intervener’s motion in part, namely by excluding access to confidential information, including information on comparable licences. The District Court held that the protection of such information was not adequately ensured, since the Intervener’s behaviour raised significant doubts that he considered himself bound to confidentiality by the NDA signed with the Claimant. [452] The Intervener appealed this decision.

The Higher District Court of Düsseldorf (Court) set the above ruling aside and requested the District Court to further clarify the facts of the case and decide again on the Intervener’s motion for full access to the court files on basis of the principles set forth in its present judgement. [453] In particular, the Court requested from the District Court to (re-)examine whether the Claimant actually possessed confidential business information which needed protection. [453] If this fact could be positively established, then a limited access to the court files would, basically, be justified, if the party seeking access to the files refused to commit itself to confidentiality. [454]

B. Court’s reasoning

The Court pointed out that parties to court proceedings seeking to protect confidential information must undertake efforts to sign an NDA with the opposing party and any intervener that has joined or is expected to join the proceedings with a high degree of certainty, before disclosing such information in the trial. [455] A party doing so without an NDA has to accept that the opposing party and/or the intervener could gain access to confidential information through an inspection of the court files. [456]

In the eyes of the Court, requesting from the party seeking to protect confidential information to actively pursue the conclusion of NDAs with other parties involved in the proceedings does not put that party at a disadvantage. The unjustified refusal of the opposing party (or an intervener) to enter into an NDA allows the party seeking protection to use only non-confidential information in the proceedings for specifying the FRAND conformity of its licensing offer to the potential licensee. [457] Although still obliged to specify the conditions of its FRAND licensing offer, the party has a lower burden to bear; to the extent (and not be¬yond) that is required for protecting its justified confidentiality interests, the party can meet its respective obligation by making “merely indicative observations” in the trial. [458]

In case that an intervener joins the proceedings at a point in time, in which a party has already produced confidential information on grounds of an NDA previously signed with the opposing party, the intervener’s right to inspect the court files can only be limited, if it was (or can) be established that the party seeking protection actually possesses confidential business information. [459] The fact that the other parties involved in the proceedings have already signed an NDA does not of itself limit the intervener’s right to full access to the court files. [460]

To establish that it possesses confidential business information worthy of protection, a party must identify such information and concretely explain why this information constitutes a business secret. [461] The party also needs to present in detail which measures were taken so far for securing confidentiality with respect to the information in question. [461] In addition, the party has to demonstrate in a substantiated and verifiable manner (for each information separately), which concrete disadvantages would be suffered, if the information would be disclosed. [461] It also needs to be explained, with which degree of certainty the said disadvantages are expected to occur. [461]

When protection of confidential information contained in comparable licences is sought, the existence of confidentiality interests requires, in general, special justification. [462] In the Court’s view, the SEP holder’s FRAND-undertaking entails transparency vis-à-vis interested stakeholders with respect to licensing conditions. [462] Moreover, knowledge of licensing conditions already accepted in the market can help potential licensees exercise their rights in infringement proceedings effectively. [462] Considering the non-discriminating element of SEP holder’s FRAND undertaking, it is not immediately apparent to the Court which interest worthy of legal protection the SEP holder could have in keeping conditions agreed in existing licensing agreements confidential. [462] In fact, several licensing pools (e.g. MPEG) publish their licensing agreements online. [462]

Should the party seeking protection fail to establish that it possesses confidential business information needing protection, full access to the court files must be granted to the intervener upon request, irrespective of whether the latter signs an NDA or not. [463] Conversely, if the existence of confidential business information is established, the intervener’s right to inspect the court files can be limited only to non-confidential information, as long as the intervener refuses to enter into an NDA with the party seeking protection of its confidentiality interests. [454]

In case that a party which has signed an NDA breaches its obligations under this agreement or “backs out” of the NDA, the party relying on the protection of its confidentiality interests can again limit its (future) submissions of facts in the proceedings to non-confidential information. [464] In other words, in terms of detail, the party must again not present information going beyond “merely indicative observations”. [464] Whether a party has “backed out“ of an NDA is a question of fact which has to be decided on a case-by-case basis. [465] For this, it is required that the party’s behaviour has caused a high risk of a breach of confidentiality. [465] For instance, this could be the case, when legal arguments brought by the party against the validity of the NDA are not reasonable, but rather serve as a pretext. [465]

  • [447] Higher District Court of Düsseldorf, judgement dated 25 April 2018, Case No. I-2 W 8/18, para. 26
  • [448] Ibid, para. 26
  • [449] Ibid, para. 32
  • [450] Ibid, para. 35
  • [451] Ibid, para. 2
  • [452] Ibid, para. 27
  • [453] Ibid, para. 36 et seq
  • [454] Ibid, para. 17
  • [455] Ibid, paras 11 and 14
  • [456] Ibid, para. 11
  • [457] Ibid, para. 13
  • [458] Ibid, para. 13
  • [459] Ibid, para. 15
  • [460] Ibid, para. 15 et seq
  • [461] Ibid, para. 23
  • [462] Ibid, para. 24
  • [463] Ibid, para. 16
  • [464] Ibid, para. 20
  • [465] Ibid, para. 21

Updated 21 六月 2019

Unwired Planet v Huawei

OLG Düsseldorf
22 三月 2019 - Case No. I-2 U 31/16

A. Facts

The Claimant, Unwired Planet International Limited, acquired patents relevant to the 2G (GSM) and 3G (UMTS) wireless telecommunications standards developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

The previous holder of the patents in question, Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (Ericsson), had made an undertaking towards ETSI to grant users access to its patents should they become essential to a standard (Standard Essential Patents or SEPs) on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms and conditions.

The Defendants, China-based Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd (Huawei China) and its German affiliate Huawei Technologies Deutschland GmbH, offer for sale and sell devices in Germany complying with the 2G and 3G standards.

In March 2014, the Claimant brought an action against the Defendants before the District Court (Landgericht) of Düsseldorf (District Court) based on one of its SEPs, asking for a declaratory judgement recognising the Defendants’ liability for damages on the merits, as well as information and the rendering of accounts [466] . At the same time, the Claimant also initiated infringement proceedings against the Defendants in the UK (UK proceedings). During the course of the UK proceedings, the parties made certain licensing offers. However, an agreement was not reached.

By judgment dated 19th January 2016, the District Court found that the Defendants infringed the patent in suit, recognised the Defendant’s liability for damages on the merits and ordered the Defendants to render accounts to the Claimant [467] . The Defendants appealed the District Court’s ruling.

With the present judgment, the Higher District Court (Oberlandesgericht) of Düsseldorf (Court), basically, upheld the decision of the District Court. However, following a partial withdrawal of claims by the Claimant, the Court limited the Defendants’ obligation to render accounts by excluding information about production costs (broken down by single cost factors) and realised profits [468] .

The Court allowed for an appeal on points of law before the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof). The parties appealed the present decision.

B. Court’s reasoning

The Court confirmed the District Court’s finding that the Defendants had infringed the patent in suit by offering for sale and selling standard-compliant products in Germany [469] .

The Court also agreed with the District Court’s finding that the Claimant was entitled to assert claims against the Defendants: in its view, the patent in suit had been validly transferred to the Claimant [470] .

Transfer of SEPs

The Defendants had argued that the agreements underlying the transfer of said SEP to the Claimant had several flaws, which the District Court had not evaluated properly. In a lengthy reasoning, the Court dismissed this argument and confirmed the validity of the agreements in question [471] .

Besides that, the Defendants had claimed that the relevant agreements were void from an antitrust perspective, because they violated Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The Court rejected these claims as well.

In the Court’s eyes, the – repeated – transfer of a SEP does not constitute an abuse of market power in violation of Article 102 TFEU [472] , since the FRAND undertaking, which – according to the Court – irrevocably limits the exclusion rights arising from a patent ‘in rem’ (‘dinglich’) [473] , is directly and indispensably binding for the new patent holder (irrespective of any contractual obligation assumed by the latter) [474] . Due to the ‘automatic’ transfer of the FRAND undertaking, there is no reason for prohibiting the transfer of SEPs or imposing limitations regarding to whom the SEP is assigned to; insofar, the patent holder has a free choice [475] .

Furthermore, the Court found that the transfer of the SEP in suit to the Claimant did not violate Article 101 TFEU [476] . Reciprocal agreements, as the agreements underlying the transfer of said patent, per se do not violate Article 101 TFEU, unless they contain side agreements which could impede competition [477] . According to the Court, this was not the case here. In this context, the Court explained that the fact that Ericsson had transferred only a part of its portfolio to the Claimant could not have any anti-competitive effect in terms of Article 101 TFEU [478] . Reason for this is that the FRAND-undertaking, to which both Ericsson and the Claimant are bound, sets the upper limit for the financial or other kind of burden from the licence that can be imposed on any licensee with respect to the entire patent portfolio [478] .

FRAND-undertaking

Having taken the view that the FRAND-undertaking is ‘automatically’ transferred to the new SEP holder, the Court suggested that it is binding for the latter not only ‘on the merits’ (‘dem Grunde nach’), but also in terms of ‘amount and content’ (‘der Höhe und dem Inhalt nach’) [479] . In other words: the new patent holder is not only – generally – obliged to offer access to the SEP on FRAND terms, it is, moreover, bound to the actual licensing practice of the previous patent holder [479] . The Court found that this is needed for ensuring that the SEP holder will not exempt itself of its FRAND commitment – especially the non-discrimination obligation – by transferring the SEP to a third party [480] .

Existing licensing agreements / Confidentiality

Accordingly, the Court held that existing licensing agreements of the previous patent holder (which have not expired yet) need to be considered for the assessment of the non-discriminatory character of licensing offers made by the new SEP holder [481] . Consequently, in the Court’s view, the SEP holder’s FRAND undertaking obliges the latter to provide its successor with information regarding to the content of licensing agreements which it had concluded with third parties [481] .

To be able to establish the non-discriminatory character of its licensing offer, the new SEP holder needs to make sure that it will be able to refer to and present licensing agreements of the prior SEP holder, particularly in court proceedings [482] . An exception could be made only when presenting such agreements would violate contractual confidentiality obligations. For this, the content of relevant confidentiality clauses must be presented in detail in trial, in order to allow an assessment of the extent of the patent holder’s obligations [483] . In addition, the party bound to respective clauses must demonstrate that it cannot release itself from its confidentiality obligations, by showing that all existing licensees have refused – upon request – to waive their rights arising from each clause in question [483] . Notwithstanding this, the Court expressed the view that agreeing to comprehensive confidentiality clauses will, as a rule, bar the SEP holder (and/or its successor) from invoking confidentiality with respect to existing licences in pending court proceedings: in this case, the refusal to present licences cannot be justified, since the patent holder acted culpably by agreeing to confidentiality with other licensees, regardless of its FRAND-obligation to provide information to its successor with respect to the licensing agreements it has signed [483] . Its unjustified refusal to present existing licences will, moreover, also affect the position of the new patent holder in trial (leading potentially to a dismissal of its claims for lack of evidence of the FRAND-conformity of its licensing offer) [483] .

In this context, the Court noted that presenting existing licensing agreements with third parties in trial does not raise antitrust concerns (especially under Article 101 TFEU) [484] . According to the Court, the fact that business secrets will be disclosed to potential competitors of the existing licensees is not harmful from an antitrust perspective, since measures to protect confidentiality in trial are available [484] . In particular, the addressee of confidential information is obliged to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), if the holder of such information (a) concretely explains why this information constitutes a business secret, (b) presents in detail which measures were taken so far for securing confidentiality with respect to the information in question, (c) demonstrates in a substantiated and verifiable manner (for each information separately), which concrete disadvantages would be suffered, if the information would be disclosed and (d) also explains, with which degree of certainty the said disadvantages are expected to occur [484] . If these requirements are met, the opposing party’s refusal to sign an NDA would allow the party holding confidential information to limit its pleadings in trial to ‘general, indicative statements’ [484] . According to the Court, this was, however, not the case here.

Application of the Huawei framework

On the merits of the case, the Court made clear that the conditions established by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the matter Huawei v ZTE [485] (Huawei framework or obligations) apply only to claims for injunctive relief and the recall of infringing products, not to the patent holders’ claims for information, rendering of accounts and damages [486] . In particular, when deciding about the implementer’s liability for damages on the merits, courts do not have to consider whether the patent holder has met its Huawei obligations or not [487] .

This question is, however, relevant for deciding on the amount of damages owed to the patent holder. The non-compliance of the SEP holder with the Huawei framework can limit the amount of damages that it can claim to the amount of a FRAND royalty (for certain periods of time) [488] . Since the right to request the rendering of accounts serves the calculation of the amount of damages, the Court took the view that the SEP holder is barred from claiming information about production costs and/or realised profits for periods of time, in which it is not entitled to damages going beyond the FRAND royalty, because this information is not required for calculating the latter [489] .

SEP holder’s offer to the implementer

Looking at the present case, the Court held that the Claimant had not fulfilled its Huawei obligation to make a written and specific FRAND licensing offer to the Defendants [490] . In particular, in the offers made the Claimant failed to adequately specify both the calculation and the non-discriminatory nature of the royalties proposed [491] .

For allowing the implementer to assess the non-discriminatory character of the SEP holder’s licensing offer, the Court repeated that the latter is obliged to disclose whether other licensees exist and, if so, to which conditions they have been licensed [492] . This obligation extends also to licensing agreements concluded by the previous patent holder(s) [492] . Only agreements that have expired or have been terminated do not need to be considered in this respect [493] . As a result, the Claimant should have referred to both the licences covering the SEP in suit that it had concluded with third parties after the transfer of the patent, and to all licences, which Ericsson had concluded with licensees prior to the transfer of said patent and were still in force, when the Claimant made the respective licensing offer to the Defendants [494] .

The Court took the view that, prior to granting the very first FRAND licence, the SEP holder ought to select a specific ‘licensing concept’. This ‘concept’ is ‘legally binding’ for the future licensing conduct of the SEP holder and potential successors. In other words: the licensing conditions established by the first FRAND licence granted outline the leeway available to the SEP holder for future licensing negotiations [495] . This is also the case, when the royalties agreed for the first licence lie at the lower end of the FRAND scale available to the patent holder [496] . Accordingly, any deviation from the ‘licensing concept’ is allowed only and to the extent that (existing and new) licensees are not discriminated through less favourable conditions [495] .

The Court allowed SEP holders to select a new ‘licensing concept’ (within the available FRAND range), provided that all licensing agreements subject to the existing ‘concept’ will expire at the same point in time [497] . In the Court’s view, this could be achieved, for instance, by agreeing with all later licensees that their licence will expire at the same time as the first FRAND licence ever granted [493] . The Court recognised that this would require substantial efforts, particularly when considerable patent portfolios are involved; this fact did not, however, speak against binding the successor to the licensing practice of the previous SEP holder [498] .

C. Other important issues

According to the Court, the fact that the UK proceedings were directed towards setting the terms of a worldwide licence between the parties, covering all SEPs held by the Claimant did not require the Court to stay its own proceedings [499] . According to Article 27 of the Brussels I Regulation, the court later seized of the matter has to stay its proceedings until the jurisdiction of the court first seized of the case has been settled. The Court saw, however, no indication that the UK proceedings (had ever) concerned the claims asserted in the proceedings brought before it (claims limited to Germany) [499] .

Besides that, the Court confirmed that German courts have international jurisdiction for the claims brought against Huawei China [500] . If infringing products are offered over the internet, the international jurisdiction of German courts is established, when German patent rights are being affected and the website can be accessed in Germany [500] .

  • [466] Unwired Planet v Huawei, Higher District Court of Düsseldorf, 22 March 2019, para. 32 (cited by www.nrwe.de).
  • [467] Ibid, para. 41. See District Court of Duesseldorf, judgement dated 19 January 2016, Case No. 4b O 49/14.
  • [468] Ibid, paras. 139 et seqq.
  • [469] Ibid, paras. 252-387.
  • [470] Ibid, paras. 161 et seqq.
  • [471] Ibid, paras. 169-199.
  • [472] Ibid, para. 203 et seqq.
  • [473] Ibid, para. 205.
  • [474] Ibid, paras 205 et seqq.
  • [475] Ibid, para 209.
  • [476] Ibid, paras. 235 et seqq.
  • [477] Ibid, para. 236.
  • [478] Ibid, para. 242.
  • [479] Ibid, paras. 212 et seqq.
  • [480] Ibid, para. 214.
  • [481] Ibid, paras. 216 et seq.
  • [482] Ibid, para. 216.
  • [483] Ibid, para. 218.
  • [484] Ibid, para. 220.
  • [485] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13.
  • [486] Unwired Planet v Huawei, Higher District Court of Düsseldorf, 22 March 2019, para. 159 (cited by www.nrwe.de).
  • [487] Ibid, para. 396.
  • [488] Ibid, para. 402.
  • [489] Ibid, para. 402 et seq. Insofar the Court expressly disagreed with the District Court of Mannheim, which in a previous decision had denied any limitations of the patent holder’s right to demand the rendering of accounts, in case of non-compliance with the Huawei framework; cf. District Court of Mannheim, judgment dated 10 November 2017, Case No. 7 O 28/16, GRUR-RR 2018, 273.
  • [490] Ibid, paras. 406 et seqq.
  • [491] Ibid, para. 411.
  • [492] Ibid, para. 419.
  • [493] Ibid, para. 420.
  • [494] Ibid, para. 423.
  • [495] Ibid, paras. 413 et seq.
  • [496] Ibid, para. 413.
  • [497] Ibid, paras. 414 and 420.
  • [498] Ibid, para. 421.
  • [499] Ibid, para. 144.
  • [500] Ibid, paras. 153 et seqq.

Updated 6 十月 2020

无线星球诉华为 暨 康文森诉华为及中兴通讯

英国法院判决
26 八月 2020 - Case No. [2020] UKSC 37

A. 事实

本案中,英国最高法院(以下称“最高法院”)针对就两个个别独立案件所提出的上诉进行判决。这两个案件均涉及由欧洲电信标准协会(ETSI)所制定的对实施无线电通信技术标准必不可少(或潜在不必可少)的专利(标准必要专利或SEP)的侵权行为。根据欧洲电信标准协会知识产权政策的要求,该协会鼓励标准必要专利持有人对其愿依照公平、合理且无歧视(FRAND)的条款与条件向标准实施人提供其所持有的标准必要专利做出承诺。

1. 无线星球诉华为

第一个案件涉及一家拥有一组符合数项无线通信技术标准的标准必要专利组合的公司—— 无线星球国际有限公司(Unwired Planet International Limited,以下称“无线星球”)与另一家中国制造商和供应商——华为集团旗下的两家公司之间,关于使用此项标准的手机设备以及一些其他项目的纠纷。

2014年3月,无线星球于英格兰和威尔士高等法院(以下称“高等法院”)起诉华为、三星以及另一家公司侵害其所持有的五项英国标准必要专利。在这些诉讼进行的过程中,无线星球向华为提出了几项许可要约,然而最终并未能达成协议。另一方面,无线星球在诉讼进行中与三星公司签署了许可协议。

高等法院于2017年4月5日对华为核发了禁令,禁令的期限直到该公司与无线星球签订了法院认为符合FRAND原则的特定条款的全球许可协议为止 [501] 。华为对该决定提起了上诉,在上诉程序确定之前,高等法院中止了对该禁令的执行。

英国上诉法院(以下称“上诉法院”)于2018年10月23日驳回了华为对高等法院判决的上诉 [502] 。随后,华为向英国最高法院(以下称“最高法院”)提出了上诉。

2. 康文森诉华为及中兴通讯 第二起案件涉及一家专利许可公司——康文森无线许可有限公司(Conversant Wireless Licensing S.A.R.L.,以下称“康文森”)与华为以及中兴通讯集团(ZTE,以下称“中兴通讯”)旗下的两家公司之间的纠纷。中兴通讯是一家中国公司,生产网络设备、手机和消费电子产品,并销往世界各地。

康文森于2017年向高等法院提起了对华为以及中兴通信的侵权诉讼。除了一些其他的主张外,康文森还向高等法院提出了对其所持有的四项英国专利权侵权行为的禁令救济,同时也要求高等法院就其所持有的标准必要专利组合确定符合FRAND的全球许可条款。华为和中兴通信都对高等法院是否具备审理和裁决此案的管辖权提出异议,于此同时,并在中国提起诉讼,对康文森所持有的中国专利的有效性进行挑战。

高等法院于2018年4月16日确认了其对包括确定该专利组合的全球许可条款在内的,此一系列争议的管辖权限 [503] 。华为和中兴通信对高等法院的判决不服并提起上诉。 2019年1月30日,上诉法院驳回了该上诉,并以该侵权行为侵害英国专利为由,确认了英国法院对包含确定全球许可条款在内的各项纷争的管辖权 [504] 。华为和中兴通信对此判决不服,从而再向最高法院提起上诉。

根据目前的判决 [505] ,最高法院全体一致同意驳回了这两个案件的上诉。

B. 法院的论理

最高法院指出并解决了上诉中提出的如下五个问题:

1. 管辖权

最高法院在其判决中确认,英国法院对跨国标准必要专利组合的全球FRAND许可条款判定事宜有管辖权,因此,如果标准实施人拒绝签订此类许可,则英国法院有权基于其中的英国标准必要专利授予禁令 [506]

法院认为,根据欧洲电信标准协会知识产权政策,标准必要专利持有人并未被禁止于各国家法院系统中寻求禁令救济[7]。相反地,透过国家法院授予的禁令来阻止侵权行为的可能性被认为是“知识产权政策寻求平衡下的必要组成部分”,借此并能够确保实施人有动力去进行FRAND许可谈判 [507]

除了有权基于英国专利授与禁令外,英国法院也有权决定涉及全球范围的FRAND许可条款。最高法院认为,欧洲电信标准协会知识产权政策所确立的“合同关系”赋予英国法院各自行使管辖权的权利 [508]

在最高法院看来,欧洲电信标准协会知识产权政策订定时即“有意使其具备国际效力”,因为此政策的制定即是为了尝试“反映电信行业中的商业惯例” [509] 。在电信行业中,通常的做法是,即便是在不明确知道究竟有多少被许可的专利是有效的或者是侵权的的情况下,仍然以专利组合为单位签署全球范围的许可 [510]

此原因一方面在于,专利持有人无法在其宣告该专利具备(或可能具备)标准必要性之时,就预测到在接下来标准不断发展的过程中,该专利将持续有效或者产生侵权 [510] ;另一方面,实施人在实施标准之时也不会知道其中哪些专利是有效的或者哪些专利是侵权的 [510]

这种“不可避免的不确定性”,是通过以一种“基本上能够反映专利组合中必然含有许多未经验证的专利此一性质“的价格[10]而缔结一次性涵盖全球范围内专利持有人所持有的全部已宣告的标准必要专利组合的许可协议来解决的。借由获取这种许可,实施人购买“实施标准的权利”与“确定性”,确保其有权使用符合该项标准的所有技术 [510]

由于依照商业惯例,FRAND许可必然包括“未经验证”的专利,最高法院认为,确定涵盖全球范围的许可条款和条件并不意味着必须评估其所涵盖的所有专利的有效性。因此,在设定全球范围的专利组合许可条款时,英国法院并不会就外国专利的有效性以及是否侵权这一实际上应由授予该项专利的各国国家法院享有专属管辖权的问题于进行裁决 [511] 。因此,通常来说,实施人“保留在各相关外国法院对这些专利或这些专利的样本提出挑战,并借此要求专利持有人提供一个对许可费率进行调整的机制的权利”将是“公平合理的” [512]

在此范围内,最高法院强调,上述见解并非英国法院独有,而与其他司法管辖区,特别是美国、德国、中国和日本的相关判例所采取的见解一致 [513]

2. 合适的法庭(便利法庭原则)

最高法院审查的第二个问题同样涉及英国法院的管辖权问题。在康文森诉华为一案中,被告抗辩称,在中国法院对康文森所持有的中国专利的有效性做出裁决之前,英国法院本应该拒绝其管辖权,转而选择由中国法院进行管辖,或者至少应该中止该诉讼程序。 然而,最高法院认为,英国法院没有义务拒绝其管辖权转而选择由中国法院进行管辖 [514] 。所谓的“便利法庭原则”在本案中不适用,其原因在于,与英国法院不同的是,由于本案当事人并没有达成协议由中国法院对涵盖全球范围的FRAND专利组合许可条款的决定等相关事项行使管辖权,中国法院于此类争议上没有管辖的权利 [514] 。此外,法院认为,在目前的情况下,可能无法合理预期康文森会同意将管辖权授予中国法院 [514]

在最高法院的眼中,涉及本次争议的英国法院也没有义务为了等待进行中的中国专利有效性诉讼的结果而中止其诉讼程序[15]。其原因在于,此有效性诉讼仅涉及康文森所持有的中国专利的有效性,而在英国提起的这一诉讼所涉及的却是对康文森所持有的全球范围内标准必要专利组合的FRAND许可条款的确定 [515]

3. 无歧视

最高法院审查的第三个问题涉及对FRAND承诺中无歧视义务的解释。在此前的诉讼程序中产生了一个争议点,即无线星球是否会因为其向华为所提供的许可条款比起审判开始后与三星达成协议的条款更为不利而违反了FRAND的无歧视义务。

最高法院对高等法院以及上诉法院就此问题的决定均表示赞同,并指出此一区别不会构成对FRAND的无歧视义务的违反。法院解释到,FRAND并不意味着所谓的“严格无歧视义务”而要求专利持有人向所有条件相似的被许可人提供完全相同或者相似的条款 [516]

根据欧洲电信标准协会知识产权政策(第6.1条)的要求,专利持有人必须承诺按照FRAND条款提供许可。在最高法院看来,这是一个“单一且整体性的义务”,而并非三项各自独立的义务,要求许可条款分别应公平、分别应合理、分别应无歧视 [517] 。因此,这些条款和条件“在通常情况下应能够由任何市场参与者以公平的市场价格获得”,并且应能够反映标准必要专利组合的“真实价值”,同时不须根据特定被许可人的个别特征进行调整 [518]

最高法院更进一步地明确表示,在欧洲电信标准协会知识产权政策要求下所进行的FRAND承诺并不代表所谓的“最惠许可”条款而表示专利持有人被要求必须以相当于最惠许可条款的许可条件向所有类似情况的被许可人授予许可 [519] 。在仔细查看欧洲电信标准协会知识产权政策的创建过程后,法院认为欧洲电信标准协会先前曾明确地表示拒绝将此类条款纳入FRAND承诺的提案 [520]

此外,法院指出,有关差别费率会损害所涉及的私人或公共利益的“一般性推定”并不存在 [521] 。相反地,在某些情况下,标准必要专利持有人选择向特定被许可人提供低于基准费率的许可费这一选择在商业上是合理的 [522] 。举例言之,此种做法适用于所谓的“先行者优势”,法院承认,与第一位被许可人达成费率较低的许可协议具备“经济上的合理性“以及”商业上的重要性“,因为如此一来除了能为标准必要专利创造初始收入,更可以透过许可协议的签署于市场中对专利组合进行“验证”,并促进未来许可协议的达成[22]。此外,对于所谓的“减价销售”而言,情况亦是如此。在这种情况下,专利持有人为了确保其能够在市场上生存而被迫以较低的费率进行许可,而当初在无线星球与三星签署许可协议之时即是属于这种情况 [523]

4. 滥用市场支配地位/华为框架

最高法院审查的第四个问题是,无线星球是否会因为其对华为提起了侵权诉讼,而违反《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条所称的滥用了市场支配地位,并且因此不能主张禁令救济。尤其是,华为曾经提出抗辩指称,由于无线星球并未遵守欧洲联盟法院于华为诉中兴案中所确立的行为义务(华为判决或华为框架),因此其禁令救济主张应予否决 [524] 。 然而,最高法院认为情况并非如此 [525] 。在法院看来,华为判决确立了一项义务,即专利持有人在提出禁令救济诉讼前,必须就标准实施人对涉案标准必要专利的侵权使用行为向其进行通知,而如果标准必要专利持有人违反了此项义务,则将构成《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条下的滥用行为[26]。这项义务的“性质”将取决于每个个案的具体情况来进行个案判断 [526] 。本案中,法院认为,无线星球在提起本侵权诉讼之前已经对华为进行了适当的通知 [527]

有关华为判决所确立的其他各项义务,最高法院赞同了先前高等法院和上诉法院的观点,即认为华为框架并不是“强制性的”,而只是建立了一个“路线图”,如果专利持有人能严格遵循此一路线图行事,则其寻求禁令救济的权利将能够获得保障,而不会产生违反第102条的风险 [528] 。此外,华为判决还提供了“多项能帮助评估许可各方是否有按照FRAND条款达成许可协议的意愿此一核心问题的参考点” [527] 。话虽如此,最高法院认为,无线星球一直以来都有按照FRAND条款对华为进行许可的意愿,因此不能认为其表现出滥用行为 [527]

5. 损害赔偿而非禁令救济?

最高法院审查的第五个(也是最后一个问题)涉及对标准必要专利侵权行为的适当补偿措施。在最高法院的上诉程序中,就无线星球所持有的标准必要专利所遭受侵权损害此一事实而言,最适当且符合比例原则的补偿措施应是判给损害赔偿金而不是核发禁令此一抗辩首次被提出。

最高法院认为,在本案中,以损害赔偿取代禁令救济的做法没有依据 [529] 。无线星球和康文森都不可能利用“申请禁令救济”作为向华为或中兴收取“过高费用”的威胁手段,因为他们只有在提交了其条款可能符合法院认定的FRAND许可要约后,才有权获得强制令 [530]

此外,法院认为,判给损害赔偿金“不太可能能够恰当地替代因不能核发禁令所可能造成的损失”,因为如此一来标准必要专利持有人就必须就每一个个别专利在各个国家逐一对实施人提起专利诉讼,而这被认为是“不切实际的” [531] 。更有甚者,标准实施人将“产生动机持续性地为侵权行为,直到其就逐个专利在逐个国家中被迫支付许可费为止”,而这将使得FRAND许可变得更加困难,正如同最高法院所指出的,对侵权者而言,主动取得许可不具备“经济上意义” [532]

另一方面,禁令救济“可能是更有效的补救方法”,通过对各种侵权行为的全面性禁止,禁令带给侵权人的可能只剩下接受标准必要专利持有人所提供的FRAND许可条款这一“有限的选择”,“如果其希望能继续留在市场当中” [532] 。出于上述原因,最高法院强调,禁令救济是“维持司法公正所必需的” [533]

  • [501] Unwired Planet v Huawei, High Court of Justice for England and Wales, judgment dated 5 April 2017, Case No. [2017] EWHC 711(Pat)。
  • [502] Unwired Planet v Huawei, UK Court of Appeal, judgment dated 23 October 2018, Case No. [2018] EWCA Civ 2344。
  • [503] Conversant v Huawei and ZTE, High Court of Justice for England and Wales, judgment dated 16 April 2018, Case No. [2018] EWHC 808 (Pat)。
  • [504] Conversant v Huawei and ZTE, UK Court of Appeal, judgment dated 30 January 2019, Case No. [2019] EWCA Civ 38。
  • [505] Unwired Planet v Huawei and Conversant v Huawei and ZTE, UK Supreme Court, judgment dated 30 January 2019, Case No. [2019] EWCA Civ 38。
  • [506] 同上注, 段 49 及以下。
  • [507] 同上注, 段 61。
  • [508] 同上注, 段 58。
  • [509] 同上注, 段 62。
  • [510] 同上注, 段 60。
  • [511] 同上注, 段 63。
  • [512] 同上注, 段 64。
  • [513] 同上注, 段 68-84。
  • [514] 同上注, 段 97。
  • [515] 同上注, 段 99 及以下。
  • [516] 同上注, 段 112 及以下。
  • [517] 同上注, 段 113。
  • [518] 同上注, 段 114。
  • [519] 同上注, 段 116。
  • [520] 同上注, 段 116 及以下。
  • [521] 同上注, 段 123。
  • [522] 同上注, 段 125。
  • [523] 同上注, 段 126。
  • [524] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13。
  • [525] Unwired Planet v Huawei and Conversant v Huawei and ZTE, UK Supreme Court, judgment dated 30 January 2019, Case No. [2019] EWCA Civ 38, 段 149 及以下。
  • [526] 同上注, 段 150。
  • [527] 同上注, 段 158。
  • [528] 同上注, 段 157 及 158。
  • [529] 同上注, 段 163。
  • [530] 同上注, 段 164。
  • [531] 同上注, 段 166。
  • [532] 同上注, 段 167。
  • [533] 同上注, 段 169。

Updated 3 二月 2021

HEVC (Dolby) v MAS Elektronik

LG Düsseldorf
7 五月 2020 - Case No. 4c O 44/18

A. Facts

The claimant, Dolby, operates in the field of audio and video innovation and is the owner of a portfolio of related patents, including a European Patent concerning the encoding and decoding as well as the sequence of digital images. This patent reads on the HEVC standard (Standard Essential Patent, or SEP). Dolby has contributed the patent in question to a pool administered by HEVC Advance, which offers licences to standards users for a significant portfolio of related SEPs of several patent holders.

The Defendant, MAS Elektronik AG (MAS), operates in the home entertainment field and sells articles such as television sets and receivers (set-up boxes, or STBs). These devices are compatible with the DVB-T/T2 standard that, in turn, makes use of the encoding method according to the HEVC standard.

In 2017, HEVC Advance sent a notification informing MAS about the infringement of SEPs included in the pool. On 7 November 2017, HEVC Advanced offered a licence to MAS on basis of its standard licensing agreement.

Since no agreement was reached, Dolby filed a lawsuit against MAS before the District Court of Düsseldorf (Court). Dolby initially moved for a declaratory judgement confirming MAS' liability for damages on the merits and also asserted relevant claims for information. The action was later extended. Additionally, Dolby requested injunctive relief as well as recall and destruction of infringing products.

On 11 July 2018, after the action was filed, Dolby directly approached MAS as well. It shared a list of patents included in its SEP portfolio as well as 'claim charts', mapping a number of patents to the relevant parts of the standard. Dolby also submitted an offer for a bilateral portfolio licence to MAS which the latter did not accept.

In January 2019, MAS presented a counteroffer to HEVC Advance, which included an amount for settlement the past uses. However, MAS did not render accounts for past uses nor provided security.

On 7 May 2020, the Court rendered a decision in favour of Dolby and ordered MAS to (i) refrain from offering or supplying devices and/or means that infringe Dolby's patent in Germany, under penalty up to EUR 250,000 for each case of infringement; (ii) render accounts and information regarding infringing products; (iii) surrender for destruction any infringing product in its possession and (iv) recall infringing products from the market. The Court also recognised MAS' liability to pay for past and future damages.


B. Court's reasoning

The Court found that Dolby was entitled to assert claims arising from the patent-in-suit. The respective patent application was transferred before grant and Dolby was registered as owner in the Patent Register at the moment the patent was granted. MAS did not present any reason to question the validity of the transfer of the patent application to Dolby. [534]

Furthermore, the Court held that the patent-in-suit is essential (and not only optional) to the improvement process of encoding and decoding of images under the HEVC standard and, therefore, infringed by the devices manufactured and sold by MAS. [535]


Abuse of dominant market position

Having said that, the Court explained that by asserting claims for injunctive relief as well as recall and destruction of infringing products before court, Dolby had not abused its dominant market position in violation of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) [536] .

In the eyes of the Court, Dolby holds a dominant position [537] . The Court highlighted that owning a patent, even a standard-essential patent, does not constitute per se a condition for market dominance [538] . That must be assessed case by case. A dominant position will be, as a rule, given if the use of a SEP is considered a pre-requisite to enter a downstream market. This is true also when the SEP is needed for offering competitive products in the downstream market. [538] In the present case, the implementation of the HEVC was required to make a competitive offering in the STB market [539] .

Notwithstanding the above, the Court found that Dolby had not abused its dominant market position, considering that it had fulfilled the obligations set forth by the Court of Justice the EU (CJEU) in the matter Huawei v ZTE (Huawei judgment or framework) [540] .


Notification of infringement

The required notification of the infringement by the patent holder was properly done. The Court understood that HEVC Advance, as the pool administrator, was entitled to do such notification on behalf of the patent holders that contributed patents to the pool. There is nothing in the Huawei judgment that suggests otherwise. [541]

The Court explained that the notification must, at least, include the publication number of the patent-in-suit and also indicate the infringing products and the infringing act(s) of use. [542] The notification does not need to contain a detailed (technical or legal) analysis, with reference to standards or claim features, but only present sufficient information that enables the other party to assess the infringement accusation made against it. [542]

In this case, the notification initially sent by HEVC Advance to MAS was sufficient in terms of content, since it specified the infringing products, and referred to HEVC Advance's patent portfolio and its website containing additional information. The fact that no patent numbers were mentioned was not considered harmful, since this information is publicly available in the pool's website. [543] Moreover, the Court highlighted that the notification can be a mere formality, if knowledge of the infringement by the implementer can be assumed. In such case, arguing that the notification was flawed, can be considered abusive, as it was the case here. [544]

Besides the notification made by HEVC Advance, the Court found that Dolby had also made a sufficient notification itself by the letter sent to MAS on 11 July 2018. [545] The letter fulfilled all requirements in terms of content. The fact that it was sent only after the action was filed was not harmful, since MAS had been already adequately informed by HEVC Advance before.Ibid, para. 759.

Willingness to obtain a licence

Looking at the conduct of MAS after receipt of the notifications of infringement, the Court reached the conclusion that MAS had sufficiently declared willingness to enter into a pool licence with HEVC Advance. [546] On the contrary, the Court took the view that MAS had not acted as a willing licensee with respect to Dolby's subsequent offer for a bilateral licence. [547]

The Court explained that, in its licensing request towards the SEP holder, the standards implementer must express its 'serious' willingness to conclude a licensing agreement on FRAND terms [548] . For this, no strict requirements apply, in terms of content or form; moreover, also an 'implicit behaviour' can suffice [549] . The implementer is, however, required to react in due course. [550] Furthermore, 'willingness' must still exist when the patent holder makes his licensing offer [548] .

The Court held that MAS had expressed willingness to take a pool license from HEVC Advance –although no express request was made–, since "immediately" after receipt of the notification of infringement, MAS started a correspondence with HEVC Advance with the goal to initiate negotiations. [551]

On the other hand, MAS had not been willing to obtain a bilateral licence from Dolby. [545] The Court emphasized that the whole conduct of the implementer must be assessed; a 'genuine' willingness to obtain a license must be demonstrated. [552] This is not given, when -as it had been the case here- the implementer only poses repetitive questions that do not present any constructive remarks and, therefore, do not lead to any progress in the negotiation. [553] In addition to that, it could be expected that a licensee willing to sign a bilateral agreement with an individual pool member, will have an interest to also engage in discussions with further pool members, especially for assessing the total 'economic burden' for its products, in comparison with a pool licensing agreement. [554] MAS refrained from doing that. What is more, it made clear in the proceedings that it was only interested in a pool licence.Ibid, para. 765.

SEP holder's offer

Since the Court held that MAS had adequately expressed willingness to sign a pool licence with HEVC Advance, it moved on to examine, whether HEVC Advance's licensing offer to MAS based on its standard licensing agreement was in line with the Huawei framework. Since the Court reached the conclusion that MAS had not been willing to enter into a bilateral licence with Dolby, it refrained from examining the compliance of Dolby's offer with the Huawei judgment in detail.

The Court found that the offer made by HEVC Advance met the Huawei requirements. In terms of form, the fact that the standard agreement sent to MAS had not been signed did not cause any concerns. [555] In the Court's view, the CJEU requires that the SEP holder's offer contains all usual terms of a licensing agreement, however, no binding offer that could lead to the conclusion of a licence through sole acceptance by the implementer is needed. [556]

Furthermore, HEVC Advance had sufficiently explained the royalty calculation, in line with the Huawei judgment. [557] If the patent holder has previously granted licenses to third parties, it has to give more or less substantiated reasons, depending on the circumstances of the individual case, why the royalty it envisages is Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND). [558] In case that the SEP holder offers licences exclusively based on a standard licensing agreement, it will, as a rule, suffice to establish the adoption of the licensing programme in practice and to show that the specific offer corresponds to the standard licensing agreement. [559] The more standard licensing agreements signed are shared by the patent holder, the stronger the assumption is, that the offered rates are FRAND. [560]

The Court emphasized that is not necessary to present the full content of all the licensing agreements already concluded, but only the relevant ones, considering clearly delineated product categories. [561] Existing licences with cross-licensing-elements, are not relevant in this context, especially, when the implementer does not have any patents himself, as it was the case here. [562] Accordingly, the Court found that the forty third party agreements disclosed by Dolby in the proceedings were enough in the present case. [563]


Fair and reasonable terms

Looking at the content, the Court found that the terms of the standard licensing agreement offered by HEVC Advance are fair and reasonable. [564] As fair and reasonable can be considered terms offered to a willing party, without exploiting a dominant position. [565] Apart from the royalties, the offer must also prove reasonable with regard to the other terms as well (scope, territory etc.). [565]

Having said that, the Court held that the royalties charged by HEVC Advance's standard licensing agreement are fair and reasonable. [566] An indication of that is the fact, that up to January 2020, more than forty licensees selling products in the same category as MAS had taken a license on the same terms, modified sometimes by 'blended rates'. [567] On the other hand, the fact that lower royalties are charged by a competing patent pool (MPEG LA) does not make the HEVC Advance's rate unreasonable, as FRAND is considered rather to be a range than a specific amount. [568]

Furthermore, the Court took the view that the limitation of the offered licence to 'practised claims' only (that is those claims of the licenced patents that are essential to the practice of the HEVC standard), is not unreasonable. [569] This limitation does not present any adverse effect on MAS' business, since the royalty payments correspond to the claims that are actually used by the licensee (and, vice versa, no obligation to pay for claims not used is established). [570]

Also, in the eyes of the Court, MAS was not able to prove that the lack of an adjustment clause is unreasonable [571] . MAS failed to establish that respective clauses are common in industry practice; on the contrary, the fact that at least forty parties had signed a licence with HEVC Advance without such clause indicated the opposite. [572] What is more, the royalty clause is constant. That means that the rate charged will not change if licenced patents expire, but also will remain the same in the case of addition of new patents to the pool that will be automatically covered by the agreement. Insofar, an economic risk for both parties exists. [573]

Regarding the choice of forum clause contained in the standard licensing agreement, establishing the jurisdiction of courts in New York as well as granting HEVC Advance the right to also choose other venues at its discretion, the Court was not able to conclude any unfair disadvantage for MAS. [574] The same clause was agreed in many other licensing agreements signed by HEVC Advance with third parties. [575] In fact, MAS agreed to a similar one in its license agreement with the MPEG LA pool. [575]


Non-discrimination

Besides that, the Court was unable to establish any discrimination against MAS through the licence offered by HEVC Advance. [576] The obligation of equal treatment applies only to aspects that are comparable; even a market dominant undertaking must be allowed to respond differently to different market conditions. [577] An unequal treatment is to be assessed based on the specific circumstances of each individual case under the goals of competition and can be accepted as lawful, if objectively justified. [578] Therefore, not every difference in the terms and conditions of a licence can be seen as abusive. [579] According to the Court, the same principle also applies to the licensing of SEPs. [580]

Against this background, the Court found that the fact that the pool administered by HEVC Advance updated its terms in a way that an 'uniform licensing regime' no longer exists, since for certain licensees the previous version of the agreement still applies, does not mean that the new standard licensing agreement offered to MAS was discriminatory. [581] Although, according to the case-law of the Higher District Court of Düsseldorf, a patent holder (and its assignees) is bound to the 'licensing concept' underlying the first ever licence granted, it is allowed to deviate from such 'concept', if this does not lead to a discrimination of either past nor future licensees. [582] In the Court's view, this was not the case here: The old licensees were offered the possibility to shift to the new terms, and there is no evidence that MAS would be treated worse by the terms of the new standard licensing agreement. [582] On the contrary, the new royalty calculation leads to a lower licensing burden. [582]

The Court also took the view, that there is also no discrimination in the way the patent-in-suit is enforced. [583] MAS argued that it was discriminated, because its competitors or large companies were not sued by members of the HEVC Advance pool for patent infringement. The Court highlighted that refraining from enforcement does not necessarily mean discrimination: the phase of adoption of the relevant standard, the costs and procedural risks involved, the knowledge of the holder regarding the infringement and its extent are factors to be considered. [584] In the case of HEVC Advance, the initial phase of its existence and limitation of resources are relevant for this assessment. [585]

Moreover, no discrimination with respect to the amount of the royalty rate or the scope offered was found. [586] The Court pointed out that the fact that some of the existing licensees have agreed on rates higher than those offered to MAS, could not be used in favour of the latter: as a rule, only those who are treated less favourably can invoke discrimination. [587]

The Court further held that the 'blended rates' agreed with certain other licensees, did not render the offer made to MAS by HEVC Advance discriminatory either. [588] These rates mirrored variations due to the difference in products and implementer's profiles and were either offered to MAS or not applicable to his business model. [589]

Furthermore, the Court found that the 'incentive programme' offered by the HEVC Advance pool, which under specific conditions (especially the signing of a licence at an early point in time) results in discounted rates, is lawful and non-discriminatory. [590] The same is true with respect to discounts offered for past uses prior to the signing a licence, as it is the case for HEVC Advance [591] .

Finally, a 10% discount offered by HEVC Advance when a licensee also takes a trademark licence, allowing for the labelling of products with the HEVC trademark, was equally offered to the MAS, so that the Court could not see a discrimination of MAS by such provision in the standard licensing agreement. [592]


Implementer's counteroffer

The Court found that MAS' counteroffer was not FRAND. [593] The offer made by MAS failed to present sufficiently an explanation of why its terms would be FRAND, in view of the terms offered by HEVC Advance. MAS presented only a royalty rate, without making any reference to the rest of the clauses contained in the offer previously made by HEVC Advance, which it alleged to be discriminatory or unreasonable. [594]

Having found that MAS' counteroffer had not been FRAND, the Court explained that the fact that MAS neither rendered accounts nor provided security did not play any role for its decision. [595]


C. Other issues

By the facts of the case, the Court concluded that MAS acted culpably, or at least negligently, and, therefore, owes compensation for past and future damages caused by its actions. Moreover, damages should not be limited to a FRAND royalty. [596] The quantification of the damages will be possible with the rendering of accounts by MAS. [597]

The lawsuit for revocation of the patent, arguing lack of inventive step, that had not been decided yet, had no likelihood of success, according to the Court's analysis. Therefore, the request for staying the proceedings until a decision on the validity is delivered by the Federal Patent Court was denied. [598]

  • [534] HEVC (Dolby) v MAS Elektronik, District Court (Landgericht) of Düsseldorf, 7 May 2020, Case No. 4c O 44/18 (cited by www.nrwe.de), paras. 75 et seqq.
  • [535] Ibid, paras. 157-184.
  • [536] Ibid, paras. 186 et seqq.
  • [537] Ibid, paras. 189 et seqq.
  • [538] Ibid, paras. 194 et seqq.
  • [539] Ibid, para. 197.
  • [540] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13.
  • [541] HEVC (Dolby) v MAS Elektronik, District Court (Landgericht) of Düsseldorf, 7 May 2020, Case No. 4c O 44/18, paras. 213 et seqq and paras. 221 et seqq.
  • [542] Ibid, para. 210.
  • [543] Ibid, paras. 229 et seqq.
  • [544] Ibid, para. 233.
  • [545] Ibid, para. 759.
  • [546] Ibid, paras. 236 et seqq.
  • [547] Ibid, paras. 760 et seqq.
  • [548] Ibid, para. 237.
  • [549] Ibid, para. 237 and para. 761.
  • [550] Ibid, para. 760.
  • [551] Ibid, para. 238.
  • [552] Ibid, para. 763.
  • [553] Ibid, para. 764.
  • [554] Ibid, para. 765.
  • [555] Ibid, paras. 241 et seqq.
  • [556] Ibid, para. 242.
  • [557] Ibid, paras. 244 et seqq.
  • [558] Ibid, para. 245.
  • [559] Ibid, para. 248.
  • [560] Ibid, para. 255.
  • [561] Ibid, para. 250.
  • [562] Ibid, para. 253.
  • [563] Ibid, para. 249.
  • [564] Ibid, paras. 257 and 258.
  • [565] Ibid, para. 260.
  • [566] Ibid, paras. 264 et seqq.
  • [567] Ibid, para. 268.
  • [568] Ibid, paras. 271 et seqq.
  • [569] Ibid, paras. 280 et seqq.
  • [570] Ibid, para. 284.
  • [571] Ibid, paras. 286 et seqq.
  • [572] Ibid, para. 295.
  • [573] Ibid, para. 298.
  • [574] Ibid, paras. 301 et seqq.
  • [575] Ibid, para. 304.
  • [576] Ibid, paras. 306 et seqq. and paras. 314 et seqq.
  • [577] Ibid, para. 308.
  • [578] Ibid, paras. 308 et seq.
  • [579] Ibid, para. 310.
  • [580] Ibid, para. 311.
  • [581] Ibid, paras. 314 et seqq.
  • [582] Ibid, para. 318.
  • [583] Ibid, para. 321.
  • [584] Ibid, para. 322.
  • [585] Ibid, para. 323.
  • [586] Ibid, paras. 325 et seqq. as well as paras. 443 et seqq.
  • [587] Ibid, para. 326.
  • [588] Ibid, paras. 328 et seqq.
  • [589] Ibid, paras. 329 et seqq.
  • [590] Ibid, paras. 334 et seqq.
  • [591] Ibid, paras. 526 et seqq.
  • [592] Ibid, paras. 665 et seqq.
  • [593] Ibid, paras. 751 et seqq.
  • [594] Ibid, paras. 754.
  • [595] Ibid, para. 756.
  • [596] Ibid, para. 773.
  • [597] Ibid, para. 774.
  • [598] Ibid, paras. 781 et seqq.