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 7 四月 2021

Sisvel v Wiko

OLG Karlsruhe
9 十二月 2020 - Case No. 6 U 103/19

A. Facts

The claimant, Sisvel, holds patents declared as (potentially) essential to the practice of the UMTS and LTE wireless telecommunications standards, which are subject to a commitment to be made accessible to users on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms and conditions (standard-essential patents or SEPs). Sisvel also administrates a patent pool, comprising patents of several SEP holders, including Sisvel's own SEPs (patent pool).

The defendants are two companies that are part of the Wiko group (Wiko). [1] Wiko sells mobile phones complying with the LTE standard - among other markets- in Germany.

In June 2015, the patent pool informed Wiko for the first time about the need to obtain a licence. On 1 June 2016, Sisvel (as the patent pool's administrator) offered Wiko a portfolio licence, which also covered the patent in suit. Agreement was, however, not reached.

On 22 June 2016, Sisvel brought an action against Wiko before the District Court (Landgericht) of Mannheim in Germany (District Court) based on one patent reading on the LTE standard (infringement proceedings). Sisvel requested a declaratory judgment confirming Wiko's liability for damages on the merits, as well as information and rendering of accounts.

On 23 June 2016, Sisvel made an offer for a bilateral licence limited to its own SEP portfolio to the German subsidiary of Wiko. This offer was not accepted. Moreover, Wiko filed a nullity action against the SEP in suit before the German Federal Patent Court (nullity proceedings).

In October 2016, Sisvel extended the lawsuit. Claims for injunctive relief as well as the recall and destruction of infringing products were added to the other claims initially asserted.

On 11 November 2016, Wiko made a counteroffer to Sisvel. Some days prior to the oral hearing in the infringement proceedings, Wiko informed the Court that it had provided information to Sisvel and had also deposited a security amount for past uses.

On 8 November 2017, Sisvel made a new offer to Wiko with reduced royalty rates. Wiko did not immediately react to this offer.

On 22 December 2017, Sisvel asked the District Court to order a stay of the infringement proceedings, until the decision of the Federal Patent Court in the parallel nullity proceedings. Wiko agreed with Sisvel's motion. On 30 January 2018, the infringement proceedings were stayed.

On 9 February 2018, Sisvel sent a reminder to Wiko regarding the offer made on 8 November 2017. Wiko responded on 16 February 2018, requesting further claim charts and more time to examine the patents covered by the offer.

On 26 June 2018, during the stay of the infringement proceedings, Sisvel made another licensing offer to Wiko based on a new restructured licensing program (2018 offer). Along with the 2018 offer, Sisvel provided Wiko with claim charts regarding 20 selected patents and a list of existing licensees of both its new licensing program and two pre-existing programs. The list contained the date of the conclusion of each agreement as well as the agreed licence fees. The names of the licensees were, however, redacted.

Wiko did not react to the 2018 offer for more than three months. On 15 October 2018, following a respective reminder sent by Sisvel on 14 September 2018, Wiko replied, without, however, commenting the 2018 offer; it just referred back to its counteroffer dated 11 November 2016. Wiko also criticized the fact that Sisvel did not disclose the names of the existing licensees so far.

In response to that claim, Sisvel shared a draft Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with Wiko on 22 October 2018, based on which it would be willing to disclose the names of the existing licensees. Wiko refused to sign the NDA proposed by Sisvel.

In October 2018, the Federal Patent Court upheld the SEP in suit in part. Subsequently, the District Court moved on with the infringement proceedings. After the end of the oral hearings in July 2019, Wiko made a new counteroffer to Sisvel and provided the latter with additional information. However, Wiko did not increase the amount of security deposited after its first counteroffer dated 11 November 2016.

In the beginning of September 2019, Sisvel set up an electronic data room containing redacted versions of Sisvel's existing licensing agreements with third parties and granted Wiko respective access rights. Wiko did not make use of this data room at any point in time.

On 4 September 2019, the District Court granted an injunction against Wiko and ordered the removal and destruction of infringing products from the market. It also confirmed Wiko's liability for damages on the merits and ordered Wiko to provide Sisvel with information required for the calculation of damages. Wiko appealed the decision of the District Court.

Shortly after the District Court rendered its decision, the term of the patent-in-suit expired. Sisvel, however, enforced the injunction granted by the District Court.

With the present judgment [2] (cited by http://lrbw.juris.de/cgi-bin/laender_rechtsprechung/list.py?Gericht=bw&GerichtAuswahl=Oberlandesgerichte&Art=en&sid=2b226ea73cc9637362d8e1af04a34d05), the Higher District Court (Oberlandesgericht) of Karlsruhe (Court) predominantly upheld the judgment of the District Court [3] .
 

B. Court's reasoning

The Court found that Wiko could not successfully raise a so-called 'FRAND-defence' based on an alleged abuse of market dominance (Article 102 TFEU) against the claims for injunctive relief and the recall and destruction of infringing products asserted by Sisvel. [4]

This question was still decisive in the present case, despite the fact that the patent-in-suit expired before the start of the appeal proceedings. The Court explained that the expiration of a patent affects only future acts of use (which, then, no longer constitute infringement): On the contrary, claims that had arisen prior to expiration based on acts of use during the lifetime of the patent are not impaired. [5] Whether claims were given before the expiration of the patent-in-suit is of particular importance, especially when the patent holder has enforced a (first-instance) judgment delivered in proceedings conducted within the term of protection of the patent, as it was the case here. [6]
 

Dominant market position

Having said that, the Court agreed with the finding of the District Court that Sisvel had a market dominant position in terms of Article 102 TFEU with respect to the patent-in-suit in the relevant time period prior to its expiration. [7]

The Court followed the District Court also insofar, as it confirmed that, by filing an infringement action, Sisvel had not abused its market dominance.
 

Notification of infringement

In the eyes of the Court, Sisvel had sufficiently notified Wiko about the infringement of the patent-in-suit prior to filing a court action. [8] The purpose of the notification of infringement is to draw the implementer's attention to the infringement and the necessity of taking a license on FRAND terms and conditions. [9] In terms of content, the notification must identify the patent infringed, the form of infringement and also designate the infringing embodiments. [9] Detailed technical or legal analysis of the infringement allegation is not required. [9] The production of so-called 'claim charts', which is common in practice, will, as a rule, suffice, but is not mandatory. [9] If the patent holder offers a portfolio licence, respective extended information duties occur. [9]

In the present case, it was not disputed that Sisvel had notified Wiko about the patent-in-suit prior to litigation. [10] As far as Wiko complained that no claim charts were presented before trial, the Court reiterated that no respective obligation of Sisvel existed. [11] What is more, the Court held that the court action initially filed by Sisvel, which did not include claims for injunctive relief and the recall and destruction of infringing products, could also be seen as an adequate notification of infringement. [10]
 

Willingness to obtain a licence

The Court then found that Wiko behaved as an unwilling (potential) licensee both prior and during the infringement proceedings [12] . The Court agreed with the assessment of the District Court that Wiko delayed the licensing negotiations between the parties with the goal to avoid taking a licence for as long as possible, in order to gain economic benefits. [13]

According to the Court, the 'expression of a general willingness to license' is not sufficient for assuming that an implementer is a 'willing licensee'. [14] Moreover, the implementer must 'clearly and unambiguously' declare willingness to conclude a license agreement on FRAND terms, 'whatever FRAND terms may actually look like" [14] . The respective declaration must be 'serious and unconditional'. [14]

The Court highlighted that for the assessment of willingness the overall facts and the particular conduct of the implementer shall be taken into account. [14] Willingness is not 'static': the finding that an implementer was willing (or unwilling) at a certain moment in time does not remain unchanged henceforth. [14]

The implementer must always be willing to obtain a licence and participate in negotiations in a 'target-oriented manner'; since implementers might be inclined to delay negotiations until the expiration of the patent-in-suit, there is a need to make sure that their behaviour in negotiations will not lead to delays. [15] Moreover, it should be expected that a willing implementer would seek a license as soon as possible, in order to shorten the period, in which it makes use of the patent-in-suit or the SEP holder's portfolio without authorisation and without paying licensing fees. [16] Accordingly, a willing licensee would not consider the 'negotiation obligations' of the SEP holder primarily as a means to defend itself against a court action, but as a means to utilize in order to reach a FRAND agreement, if needed. [16]

In the view of the Court, the above requirements are in line with the Huawei v ZTE judgment (Huawei judgment or Huawei) [17] of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU). [18] In Huawei, CJEU focused on the will of the infringer to conclude a license agreement on FRAND terms and emphasized that the latter must not pursue 'delaying tactics'. The Court explained that, although in Huawei the requirement to refrain from 'delaying tactics' is expressly mentioned only with respect to the duty of the implementer to react to a licensing offer of the SEP holder, it applies 'at all times' as long as the implementer uses the patents without a licence; otherwise, the suspension of SEP holder's right to the injunctive relief cannot be justified. [19]

In this context, the Court pointed out that not every 'reluctant involvement' of the implementer in licensing discussions will necessarily allow for the assumption of unwillingness. [20] Such behaviour could be justified in individual cases, especially when the SEP holder does not act in a 'target-oriented' manner itself. [20] Nevertheless, implementers must, as a rule, react timely even to a belated action of the SEP holder. [20] Furthermore, implementers must, in principle, inform the SEP holder of any objections at an early stage and should not wait to raise those much later in court proceedings. [20]

Looking at Wiko's conduct, the Court criticized especially the fact that it became active mostly as a reaction to new developments in the pending infringement proceedings. [21] A willing implementer would have, however, sought a licence independently of the initiation of legal steps and independently of the course of litigation. [22] As an example, the Court highlighted the fact that Wiko's counteroffer dated 11 November 2016 was made only shortly after Sisvel extended the infringement suit by adding a claim for injunctive relief. [23] Wiko also provided information on past acts of infringement only a few days prior to the first oral hearing in February 2017 (and refrained from constantly updating this information afterwards, as it would be expected by a willing licensee). [24]

The Court identified also further facts that indicate that Wiko engaged in delaying tactics. [25] Wiko reacted to Sisvel's licensing offers made during the course of the proceedings always belatedly and only after a reminder by Sisvel (for instance, it took Wiko more than three months to react to the 2018 offer) [26] . It also demanded further claim charts in February 2018, years after the action was filed. [27]

Wiko's refusal to sign the NDA offered by Sisvel -despite multiple reminders of the latter- without providing any reasons was also considered as a sign of unwillingness. [28] According to the Court, it should be expected by a willing licensee, who is not interested in delaying negotiations, to swiftly raise any criticisms regarding an NDA proposed by the SEP holder in writing or by e-mail, and not wait to raise any concerns several months later in the infringement proceedings, as Wiko had done here. [29] The Court also considered the fact that Wiko did not access the electronic data room set up by Sisvel containing redacted versions of Sisvel's third party agreements as an additional indication of unwillingness. [30]

Furthermore, the Court clarified that -contrary to Wiko's view- school holidays and/or staff shortages cannot provide sufficient justification for delays in negotiations. [31] Even if such circumstances occur, a willing implementer would have communicated any obstacles immediately. [31] Wiko failed to do so.
 

SEP holder's offer

Since Wiko was found to have been an unwilling licensee, the Court explained that the question whether Sisvel fulfilled its duty to make and adequately elaborate a FRAND licensing offer, was no longer decisive. [32] In fact, no such duty had arisen in the present case, due to Wiko's unwillingness to obtain a licence. [32] Notwithstanding the above, the Court provided guidance on the content and extend of the respective obligation of the SEP holder.

The Court first explained that FRAND is a 'range', which leaves room for flexibility. [33] As a rule, FRAND is determined in bilateral good faith negotiations between SEP holders and implementers, taking into account the specific circumstances of each individual case [33] ; indeed, parties are best situated to determine the exact content of FRAND in a specific setting. [33]

In order to meet its obligation, an SEP holder must present an offer to a willing licensee, which 'in general' complies with FRAND requirements and is fair, reasonable and not discriminatory with respect to the 'average licensee'. [34] The SEP holder shall further explain its offer in a way that permits the licensee to understand the assumptions, on which the offered rate and further conditions are based. [35] The rationale behind this obligation is to create a sufficient basis of information for the implementer for assessing the offer and eventually formulating a counteroffer. [36]

In this context, the Court made clear that implementers should not expect that the SEP holder individually adapts its (first) offer to the specific circumstances of each particular case. [37] The SEP holder's FRAND commitment does not give rise to such obligation. [37] The (first) offer is intended to launch the negotiations and provide an adequate information basis to the implementer, who will then be in a position to suggest necessary amendments by means of a counteroffer. [37] Accordingly, it will regularly be acceptable that the SEP holder's offer is 'not clearly and evidently' non-FRAND and sufficient information was provided to the implementer. [38]

The Court dismissed the notion that the implementer is obliged to negotiate (and eventually) make a counteroffer, only when the SEP holder's offer was fully FRAND-compliant. [38] This would bring the negotiations to a stand-still and, therefore, conflict with the spirit of the Huawei judgment, which is to encourage the parties to reach agreement on the licensing terms. [39] Moreover, the Court explained that –irrespective of whether the offer triggers an obligation of the implementer to submit a counter-offer– the latter will be regularly required, at least, to analyse the SEP holder's offer in due course and express any objections and queries without delay. [40]

Against this background, the Court found that none of the offers made to Wiko during the infringement proceedings was 'clearly and evidently' non-FRAND. [41] The fact that the offers did not define the start of the contract or the amount of royalties payable for past uses was not considered problematic. [42] The Court also found that the royalty rates offered were not 'evidently non-FRAND', since they were sufficiently substantiated by reference to existing licensing agreements and calculated on basis of a 'top-down' method. [43] A need to calculate royalties on grounds of the costs that incurred for the creation of the patented invention (cost-based approach) was not given, since this factor was not relevant for establishing value. [44]

In addition, the Court did not raise any concerns against the fact that Sisvel's offer concerned a worldwide portfolio licence: On the one hand, agreements with such scope are common in the telecommunications industry. [45] On the other hand, Wiko had worldwide activities, so that a licence with a limited scope would not provide sufficient coverage. [45]

The fact that some of the patents included in Sisvel's portfolio were -allegedly- not standard-essential did not render the offers 'un-FRAND'. [46] The Court stressed that, for the purpose of licensing negotiations and the conclusion of a licence, it is not necessary to conclusively clarify whether each portfolio patent is standard-essential. [47] Implementers can reserve the right to challenge the validity and essentiality of affected patents even after the conclusion of a licensing agreement. [47]

Similarly, the Court had no objections against a clause placing the burden of proof with regard to the exhaustion of licenced patents on Wiko. [48] This rule corresponds with the common allocation of the burden of proof under German law and does not place unreasonable weight on the licensee, since it will be better situated to trace the licensing chain by engaging with its suppliers. [49]

The question whether an adjustment clause is necessary for an offer to be considered FRAND was left unanswered by the Court. [50] Such clause would allow the implementer to adapt the agreed royalties, in case that patents fall out of the scope of the licence (e.g. due to expiration or invalidation). The Court saw no need for a respective contractual provision, since the licences offered by Sisvel would expire and, therefore, be re-negotiated after five years. [50] The Court did not express any concerns against the term of the offered licence or the termination clauses contained therein, either. [51]

Furthermore, the Court made clear that Sisvel had adequately elaborated the licensing rates offered to Wiko. [52] In the infringement proceedings, Sisvel responded to the 'top-down' calculation of Wiko in detail and made relevant clarifications. [53] According to the Court, Sisvel was under no circumstances obliged to elaborate on a cost-based calculation of royalties, as requested by Wiko; such demand was considered just another means to delay negotiations. [54]
 

Implementers' counteroffer

The Court also found that the counteroffers made by Wiko during the course of the first instance infringement proceedings were not FRAND. [55]

The Court highlighted that the obligation of the implementer to submit a FRAND counteroffer to the SEP holder is already triggered, when the previous licensing offer of the latter is not 'clearly and evidently' non-FRAND and sufficient information was provided, enabling the implementer to formulate its counteroffer. [56]

Having said that, the Court took the view that the royalty rates which Wiko offered were very low and, thus, not FRAND-compliant. [57] The Court criticized especially the fact that the rates were significantly lower than the rates which were considered to be adequate in previous court decisions. [58] Notwithstanding the above, the Court explained that, even if Wiko's counteroffer had been FRAND, this would not change the conclusion that Wiko had acted as an unwilling licensee. [59] According to the Court, a willing licensee would not have submitted a counteroffer around one year after receipt of the SEP holder's offer, as Wiko did. [60]
 

C. Other important issues

The Court stressed that for generating pressure-free licensing negotiations during pending infringement proceedings, it will, as a rule, be sufficient, if the proceedings are stayed with a view to parallel nullity proceedings concerning the patent-in-suit. [61] This is particularly true, when the SEP holder takes the respective initiative, as it was the case here. [61] Nevertheless, even if a pressure-free negotiation situation is not given, the infringers is not released from the obligation to act in good faith and engage in licensing negotiations, for instance by analysing a licensing offer of the SEP holder. [61] The refusal of the infringer to act accordingly could, in the eyes of the Court, allow the conclusion that it is an unwilling licensee. [61]

Apart from that, the Court confirmed that Wiko had no legal ground for requesting full disclosure of Sisvel's third party agreements [62] . Even if one would recognize a duty of the SEP holder to share information about the core content of existing licensing agreements (that are still in force), it is questionable whether this duty would also extend to agreements signed by previous patent holders. [63] The Court expressed particular doubts that this applies in cases in which a portfolio was assembled from patents acquired from different patent holders, since the relevance of bilateral or pool licensing agreements of the former patent holder can be limited in this case. [64]

Furthermore, the Court expressed the view that under German law a so-called 'covenant not to sue' does not have the effect of a (royalty-free) licence: such agreements will, as a rule, have only a procedural effect in terms of a pactum de non petendo, excluding only the initiation of court proceedings. [65]

Finally, the Court denied Wiko's motion to order a stay in the appeal proceedings due to the recent referral of several questions regarding the interpretation of the Huawei framework to the CJEU by the District Court of Düsseldorf in the matter Nokia v Daimler [66] . [67] According to the Court, it appears unlikely that the CJEU will establish criteria, by which SEP-based court actions against implementers engaging in delaying tactics would amount to an abuse of market dominance. [68]
 

  • [1] The action was extended to a third defendant, an individual person, who had served as a managing director for both aforementioned companies.
  • [2] Sisvel v Wiko, Higher Regional Court Karlsruhe, judgment dated 9 December 2020, Case-No. 6 U 103/19
  • [3] The claims for injunctive relief, rendering of accounts and damages asserted against the former managing director of the two Wiko companies were limited to the period of time until the end of its tenure; ibid, paras. 265-288.
  • [4] Ibid, para. 289.
  • [5] Ibid, paras. 284 et seqq.
  • [6] Ibid, para. 287.
  • [7] Ibid, paras. 290 et seq. Insofar, the Court made clear that a market dominant position ceases to exist after the expiration of the relevant patent.
  • [8] Ibid, paras. 292 et seqq.
  • [9] Ibid, para. 293.
  • [10] Ibid, para. 297.
  • [11] Ibid, paras. 297 et seq.
  • [12] Ibid, para. 299.
  • [13] Ibid, para. 299 and paras. 320 et seqq.
  • [14] Ibid, para. 301.
  • [15] Ibid, para. 302.
  • [16] Ibid, para. 303.
  • [17] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case-No. C-170/13.
  • [18] Sisvel v Wiko, Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe, judgment dated 9 December 2020, para. 304.
  • [19] Ibid, para. 304.
  • [20] Ibid, para. 305.
  • [21] Ibid, paras. 321 et seqq.
  • [22] Ibid, para. 321.
  • [23] Ibid, para. 322.
  • [24] Ibid, paras. 323 et seq.
  • [25] In addition, the Court found that Wiko’s lack of willingness to obtain a license is also manifested in the fact that it (i) attempted to impede the enforcement of the first instance ruling of the District Court by questionable means (para. 335) and (ii) did not accept the offer of the District Court of The Hague, in which proceedings between the parties were pending in parallel, to engage in settlement negotiations (para. 336).
  • [26] Ibid, paras. 325, 328 and 331.
  • [27] Ibid, para. 327.
  • [28] Ibid, paras. 333 et seqq.
  • [29] Ibid, paras. 334 and 338.
  • [30] Ibid, paras. 337 and 341 et seqq.
  • [31] Ibid, para. 330.
  • [32] Ibid, para. 342.
  • [33] Ibid, para. 307.
  • [34] Ibid, para. 308.
  • [35] Ibid, paras. 308 and 310.
  • [36] Ibid, para. 309.
  • [37] Ibid, para. 310.
  • [38] Ibid, paras. 311 et seqq.
  • [39] Ibid, paras. 311 and 313 et seqq.
  • [40] Ibid, paras. 316 et seqq.
  • [41] Ibid, para. 352.
  • [42] Ibid, para. 353.
  • [43] Ibid, paras. 354 et seqq.
  • [44] Ibid, para. 358.
  • [45] Ibid, para. 359.
  • [46] Ibid, para. 360.
  • [47] Ibid, para. 361.
  • [48] Ibid, para. 362.
  • [49] Ibid, para. 363.
  • [50] Ibid, paras. 365 et seqq.
  • [51] Ibid, paras. 367 et seqq.
  • [52] Ibid, para. 366.
  • [53] Ibid, para. 344.
  • [54] Ibid, para. 346.
  • [55] Ibid, paras. 379 et seqq.
  • [56] Ibid, para. 311.
  • [57] Ibid, paras. 379 et seqq.
  • [58] Ibid, para. 380.
  • [59] Ibid, para. 378.
  • [60] Ibid, para. 384.
  • [61] Ibid, para. 348.
  • [62] Ibid, para. 389.
  • [63] Ibid, paras. 389 et seq.
  • [64] Ibid, para. 391.
  • [65] Ibid, paras. 260 et seqq.
  • [66] Nokia v Daimler, District Court of Düsseldorf, order dated 26 November 2020, Case No. 4c O 17/19.
  • [67] Sisvel v Wiko, Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe, judgment dated 9 December 2020, para. 395.
  • [68] Ibid, para. 395.

Updated 20 十月 2020

西斯维尔诉Wiko

曼海姆地区法院
4 九月 2019 - Case No. 7 O 115/16

A. 事实

原告西斯维尔(Sisvel)持有被宣告为于实施UMTS和LTE无线通信标准时(潜在)必要的专利,并承诺愿依照公平、合理且无歧视(FRAND)的条款和条件向标准实施人提供该专利(以下称“标准必要专利”或“SEP“)。西斯维尔还管理着一个由多个标准必要专利持有人分别持有的专利所组成的专利池,其中也包括西斯维尔自己所持有的标准必要专利(以下称”专利池“)。

被告是Wiko集团法国母公司以及其德国子公司(以下称“Wiko“)。 Wiko在包含德国市场在内的数个市场中销售实施LTE标准的手机。

西斯维尔在2015年6月时就该专利池的存在以及其取得许可的必要性对Wiko进行告知。双方进行了许可谈判。

西斯维尔向Wiko提供了其专利池中所包含的标准必要专利的相关信息,其中包括了对这些专利中的数个专利具备标准必要性进行说明的权利要求对照表。2016年6月1日,西斯维尔向Wiko提出了一份涵盖整个专利池的许可要约。然而,双方并未能就此达成协议。

西斯维尔于2016年6月22日就其所持有的一项实施LTE标准的专利在德国曼海姆地区法院(Landgericht,以下称“法院”)对Wiko提起了诉讼(以下称“侵权诉讼”)。

西斯维尔要求法院作出确认之诉判决,确认Wiko应承担实质损害赔偿责任、提交相关信息、以及开立担保帐户等主张有法律上依据。

西斯维尔并于2016年6月23日对Wiko的德国子公司发出了仅涵盖其己身所持有的标准必要专利的双边许可要约。此许可要约并未被接受。此外,Wiko就本案涉案标准必要专利向德国联邦专利法院提起了确认该专利无效的诉讼(以下称“无效诉讼”)。

西斯维尔于2016年10月4日修改了其在侵权诉讼中的诉讼主张。除原有的诉讼主张外,西斯维尔还增加了要求禁令救济以及移除并销毁市场上的侵权产品的主张。

Wiko在2016年11月11日时向西斯维尔提交了许可反要约。随后,Wiko根据其许可反要约的内容向西斯维尔提供了相关信息并提交了保证金。

在诉讼进行的过程中,西斯维尔向Wiko发出了一项新的许可要约,此许可要约涵盖整个专利池并且降低了许可费。此一许可要约Wiko仍然表示拒绝接受。西斯维尔于2017年12月22日请求法院判令中止侵权诉讼程序直至德国联邦专利法院在与本案平行的专利无效诉讼中就涉案标准必要专利的有效性做出裁决为止。

Wiko对西斯维尔所提出的动议表示同意。法院于是在2018年1月30日判令中止该侵权诉讼程序。

于此同时,在侵权诉讼程序中止期间,西斯维尔于2018年6月26日依据其重新设计后的许可计划的内容向Wiko提出了另一项许可要约(以下称“2018年许可要约”)。

除2018年许可要约外,西斯维尔还向Wiko提供了多项其他信息,其中包括了20个被选定的专利所对应的权利要求对照表,以及在其新许可计划和两个既存许可计划下现有的被许可人清单等信息。前述清单的内容包含每份许可协议签订的日期以及双方达成协议的许可费数额,然而被许可人的名称并没有被揭露。

Wiko花了超过三个月的时间均没有对对2018年许可要约做出任何反应。 直至2018年10月15日Wiko才对西斯维尔作出回复,然而却未就2018年许可要约的内容提供任何实质性的反馈,反而只是重新提起了其于2016年11月11日所做出的许可反要约。Wiko并且还批评了西斯维尔没有在与2018年许可要约一并提供的被许可人清单中揭露现有被许可人的名称的这一事实。

为了回应此项要求,西斯维尔于2018年10月22日向Wiko发送了其所草拟的保密协议(NDA)。西斯维尔并表示愿意在Wiko签署保密协议之时对其揭露现有被许可人的名称。然而,Wiko拒绝签署西斯维尔提出的保密协议。

德国联邦专利法院在2018年10月作出判决部分维持了涉案标准必要专利的有效性。在此之后,法院继续进行了侵权诉讼程序,以讨论特别是与FRAND相关的议题。

在2019年7月的口头听证程序结束之后,Wiko向西斯维尔提出了新的许可反要约,并对其提供了更多的相关信息。然而,Wiko并未增加其于2016年11月11日第一次提出反许可要约后所存入的保证金数额。

法院于当前判决 [69] 中对Wiko核发了禁令,同时判令其移除并销毁市场上的侵权产品。法院还确认了Wiko的实质损害赔偿责任,并要求Wiko向西斯维尔提供计算损害赔偿数额所必需的相关信息。

B. 法院的论理

法院认为,Wiko的产品构成对涉案专利的侵权行为 [70] 。涉案专利是否具备标准必要性并非本案当事人间争执之所在 [71]

法院进一步指出,《欧洲联盟运作条约》(TFEU)第102条并未禁止西斯维尔在侵权诉讼程序中主张禁令救济或召回并销毁涉案侵权产品。

Wiko主张西斯维尔提起当前诉讼的行为构成了对其在市场上主导地位的滥用,从而违反了《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条。

然而,这在法院看来并非如此,因为西斯维尔已经践行了欧洲联盟法院在华为诉中兴案 [72] 中所创建的行为义务(以下称“华为框架”或“华为框架义务”)。而另一方面,法院认为,Wiko未能遵守其华为框架义务。。

华为框架

与其先前的判例的观点不同,法院认为,华为框架义务的履行可以通过诉讼当事人在诉讼过程中所为的行为而补正 [73] 。但是,这必须在当事方之间能够如同欧洲联盟法院所要求的那样没有压力地进行许可协商的情况下,方得以实现。为此,当事方必须借助可用的程序性手段——例如提起中止审判程序的动议 [74] 或在双方同意的情况下中止诉讼,直到联邦专利法院就专利无效的平行诉讼做出裁定为止 [75] ——以暂时中止诉讼程序的进行。

在这种背景下,法院要求在侵权诉讼程序开始后才寻求补正华为框架中信息提交义务的标准必要专利持有人提起中止审判程序的动议 [75] 。当这项动议被提起时,法院期待一个“善意”的实施人会同意对此诉讼程序的中止 [75]

法院指出,在未决侵权诉讼过程中给予当事方补正其华为框架义务缺失部分的机会,与英格兰与威尔士上诉法院在无线星球诉华为案 [76] 以及海牙上诉法院在飞利浦诉华硕案 [77] 中所采纳的“避风港”观点一致。这些法院并不认为华为框架是必须被严格执行的强制性程序,因此,与欧洲联盟法院所建立的谈判框架有所偏离并不一定会构成滥用行为从而导致专利持有人被禁止主张禁令救济 [78] ,并且情况是否如此则需要视个案具体情况进行个别评估 [79]

侵权通知

尽管如此,法院认为,西斯维尔已经践行了其华为框架义务而在侵权诉讼程序开始之前即就涉案标准必要专利的侵权行为向Wiko进行通知。

关于标准必要专利持有人此一通知的内容,法院基本上引用了与先前判决中所提出的相同要求。法院认为,此类通知必须(1)明确指出涉及侵权者为何项专利,包括专利编号;(2)告知该专利已在相应的标准发展组织中被宣告为实施标准所必要;(3)指明该专利对于实施哪种标准而言具备必要性;(4)说明实施人的产品或服务中的哪些技术功能实施了该项标准 [80] 。通知的详细程度适当与否则应根据具体个案情况判定 [80] 。法院认为,通常情况下,当标准必要专利持有人向实施人提供了于标准必要专利许可谈判中惯用的权利要求对照表时,则其通知义务便已经履行 [80] 。法院更进一步确认了,在华为框架下,对集团公司中的母公司发出通知通常就已经足够了 [80] 。。

标准必要专利持有人所提出的许可要约

法院认为,西斯维尔也遵守了华为框架义务中向Wiko提出书面且特定的FRAND许可要约的义务。在对此要件进行评估时,法院仅考虑了2018年许可要约,即西斯维尔在侵权诉讼程序中止期间对Wiko所提出的最后一次许可要约 [81]

首先,法院重申了其关于侵权法院并没有义务决定何种具体许可费以及何种更进一步的合同条款和条件在“在客观层面上”符合FRAND的立场 [82] 。与先前卡尔斯鲁厄高等法院所采取的观点相反,法院认为,欧洲联盟法院并无意对仅与禁令救济和侵权产品召回相关的诉讼程序施加对FRAND条款作出“精确数学计算“的负担 [83] 。此外,由于潜在符合FRAND的条款和条件存在于一个范围内,只有当考虑到在特定的议价情况和市场条件下,标准必要专利持有人所提出的许可要约将将构成“剥削性滥用”时 [82] ,其寻求禁令救济的行为才可能违反《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条。于此范围内,法院与英格兰与威尔士上诉法院在无线星球诉华为案中的理解相似 [76]

尽管如此,法院仍明确指出,侵权法院不应只是对标准必要专利持有人所提出的许可要约是否符合FRAND进行“表面性”审查。侵权法院应就该具体许可要约的整体结构是否在不论双方议价能力有否存在特定初始差异情况下均足以让善意实施人对该许可要约作出回覆进行审查 [84] 。通常情况下,此义务在当标准必要专利持有人以某种能展现出其有理由认为该许可要约符合FR​​AND的方式来解释其许可费计算方法时便会显现 [85] 。而当存在有专利池许可计划或标准许可计划时,一般来说只要能够证明该许可计划已在市场上被接受便已经足够。如果一专利池过去已经授予过足够数量的许可,专利持有人将只需要通过出示足够数量涉及该专利池中所包含专利的权利要求对照表来概述此专利池的组成分子即可 [86]

于此脉络下,法院指出,任何由实施人所提出的关于专利持有人的许可要约是否符合FRAND提出的指控,原则上均不能仅是基于某一个别合同条款(被指控为)不合法。此外,判断某一许可要约是否符合FRAND则必须通过对整体协议的内容进行概括性的评估决定 [87] 。只有在当要约中的某一特定条款产生了“不可接受的效果”时才有例外的适用 [87] 。在本案中,法院认为,2018年许可要约中包含的所有条款均不产生上述效果 [87]

法院特别指出了其中一项要求被许可人(此处为Wiko)承担对许可专利中所涵盖的专利权已穷竭的部分的举证责任是可以被允许的 [88] 。与杜塞尔多夫地区法院在另一件类似案件中所采取的观点相反,本案中,法院认为,由于被许可人通过与供应商的互动可以更好地对许可链进行追踪,因此要求被许可人对相关事实作出确认是恰当的 [88]

此外,法院认为,从反垄断的角度出发,将所授与的许可期限限制为五年的条款并不会产生“不可接受的效果”。法院认为,以五年为期的许可协议符合在以技术快速发展为典型的无线通信行业中普遍实施的惯例 [89]

法院进一步指出,在被许可人违反申报责任或付款延误超过30天的情况下授予许可人终止许可协议权利的条款在上述意义上并不会产生“不可接受的效果” [89]

然而,法院并没有对2018年许可要约中未包含当协议所涵盖的许可专利数量在协议期间内发生变化时,双方可以对达成协议的许可费率进行调整的条款表示反对。法院认为,在FRAND许可协议中包含此类条款本身就不是必要的 [89] 。然而,如果一专利池主要由在签署许可协议后不久就将到期失效的专利组成,则应当作例外处理 [89] 。一般而言,许可协议未包含“调整”条款并不会产生问题,特别是在该许可要约并未限制或排除当事人以合同标的物减损或灭失为由要求调整许可内容的法定权利时(详见《德国民法典》第313条第1项) [89] 。。

无歧视 / 保密协议

有关FRAND许可要约中的无歧视要素,法院指出,《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条中对专利持有人确立了一项(次要)义务,即专利持有人在未决的侵权诉讼程序中应展现出其对被告发出的许可要约相较于其他与被告处于类似地位的竞争对手而言并未加以歧视 [86]

不过,法院也明确指出,这项义务在法律上并不意味着在每一个案件中都要做到“完全透明” [86] 。标准必要专利持有人的反垄断义务并非永远凌驾于应受法律保障的机密信息利益之上;此外,具体个案的特殊情况也可能需要寻求对机密信息的保护 [86]

特别是关于标准必要专利持有人与条件相似的第三方被许可人间的现存的许可协议(以下称“可比协议“)中所包含的信息,法院认为,专利持有人于何种程度下有披露此类协议的义务,应由侵权法院在考量双方于诉讼程序中的主张后,视个案具体情况决定 [86]

法院认为,专利持有人将必须确立机密信息存在值得保护的利益;仅仅是基于该可比协议受保密条款的约束此一事实本身并不能合理化对专利持有人的披露义务范围的限制 [90] 。另一方面,被告将需要向法院证明为何其所要求提供的信息对评估专利持有人提出的许可要约是否符合FRAND而言是必须的 [90] 。被告将必须提出具体事实显示标准必要专利持有人可能存在歧视性行为 [91]

考虑到这一点,法院不同意杜塞尔多夫法院所提出的关于标准必要专利持有人无论如何都必须在侵权诉讼程序中出示其所有现存的可比协议的观点 [92] 。尤其是在当专利持有人仅与实施人签订标准化的许可协议且其条款和条件皆可以被公开获取的情况下,法院认为没有理由要求专利持有人在诉讼程序中出示(大量)一致相同的合同。于此范围内,标准必要专利持有人仅需要披露截至目前为止已经达成了多少(标准化的)许可协议就已经足够了 [92]

因此,法院认为,即使被许可人的名称已被遮盖,西斯维尔向Wiko出示的现有被许可人名单以及2018年许可要约也足以确认该要约的FRAND符合性。在法院看来,Wiko无法解释其为何需要现有被许可人的名称才得以对2018年许可要约的FRAND符合性进行评估 [93] 。此外,法院同时考量到Wiko拒绝签署在诉讼中止期间由西斯维尔所提供的以揭露现有被许可人名称为目的的保密协议的事实 [94] 。由于Wiko就2018年许可要约是否符合FRAND并无异议,法院因此而没有对Wiko拒绝签署保密协议的行为是否可以被视为不愿意遵守华为框架义务的象征这一问题作出裁判。然而,法院同意杜塞尔多夫法院所采取的“实施人拒绝签署适当的保密协议此一行为,原则上是在评估标准必要专利持有人的要约时需要考虑的相关要素“这项观点 [94]

除此之外,法院也考虑了通过由具有管辖权的法院依德国民事诉讼法(Zivilprozessordnung,ZPO)第142条之规定所核发的文件提交命令来促进可比协议在侵权诉讼中被引用的可能性 [91] 。侵权法院应该于当具体个案中可比协议所包含的保密条款仅在法院命令的情况下才允许对该协议进行披露时,特别考虑此种选择。法院认为,此类保密条款本身并不违反反垄断法,因此除非专利持有人无法在诉讼中确立其机密信息存在值得保护的利益,否则就应该予以尊重 [91] 。如果受保密条款约束的专利持有人愿意在审判中出示可比协议,那么侵权法院可以根据个别案件的具体情况,依德国民事诉讼法第142条的规定核发文件提交命令 [91] 。如果专利持有人拒绝遵守该命令,则法院在对各当事方于华为框架下的行为义务进行总体评估时,便可以将此行为视为恶意的象征 [91] 。如果实施人因德国民事诉讼法第142条的规定获得法院核发的命令而被允许取得可比协议,然其却不同意中止各有关诉讼程序的进行时,前述对恶意的推定则同样会适用于实施人 [91] 。。

标准必要专利实施人所提出的许可反要约

法院认为,Wiko未能履行其华为框架义务在适当的时机向西斯维尔提出许可反要约。就此问题的评估,法院着重于Wiko对2018年许可要约所作出的反应 [95] 。 法院明确指出,不论其是否认为该要约符合FR​​AND,实施人都有义务根据具体事实对标准必要专利持有人所提出的许可要约作出回应(而这也是通常会发生的情况) [91] 。此外,实施人必须在考量个具体个案事实、特定行业的行业惯例、以及诚信原则的条件下尽快做出回覆 [75] 。。

考虑到Wiko在长达三个月以上的时间都没有对2018年许可要约做出任何反应,法院裁定Wiko违反了上述义务 [71] 。在法院看来,Wiko采用了拖延战术 [71] 。法院不接受Wiko辩称的法国学校假期和/或根据Wiko自己的陈述其仅有两名雇员负责处理许可相关事宜等事由作为其反应迟延的充分理由 [95] 。作为一家从事国际商务的公司,Wiko应确保其有足够的雇员可以在适当时机处理此类问题 [95]

C. 其他重要问题

除了西斯维尔所提出的禁令救济以及将侵权产品从市场上移除并和销毁的主张外,法院还做出了一项确认之诉判决,确认Wiko应承担实质损害赔偿责任 [96]

法院认为,Wiko对本案涉案专利做出了相当严重侵权行为。 尤其是,Wiko的行为至少构成了过失行为 [96]

Wiko辩称,由于标准化技术存在高度复杂性(尤其是仅一项标准中即包含了大量个别专利),使其很难就相关知识产权的状况进行评估(因此排除了过失行为)。

然而,法院明确指出,正因为相关技术的高度复杂性,实施人更应该承担更高的注意义务 [97] 。 然而,法院明确指出,正因为相关技术的高度复杂性,实施人更应该承担更高的注意义务 [97]

  • [69] Sisvel v Wiko, District Court of Mannheim, 4 September 2019, Case-No. 7 O 115/16。
  • [70] 同上注, 页 17-31。
  • [71] 同上注, 页 46。
  • [72] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case-No. C-170/13。
  • [73] Sisvel v Wiko, District Court of Mannheim, 4 September 2019, Case-No. 7 O 115/16, 页 42。
  • [74] 同上注, 页 43 及 页 51 及以下。
  • [75] 同上注, 页 42。
  • [76] Unwired Planet v Huawei, Court of Appeal of England and Wales, judgment dated 23 October 2018, [2018] EWCA Civ 2344, 段 282。
  • [77] Philips v Asus, Court of Appeal of The Hague, 7 May 2019, Case-No. 200.221 .250/01。
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  • [79] 同上注, 页 44。
  • [80] 同上注, 页 37。
  • [81] 同上注, 页47 及 53。
  • [82] 同上注, 页 38。
  • [83] 同上注, 页 37 及以下。
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  • [85] 同上注, 页 39。
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