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 17 一月 2018

Sisvel v Haier

OLG Düsseldorf
30 三月 2017 - Case No. I-15 U 66/15

A. Facts

The claimant is the owner of European patent EP B1, allegedly covering data transmission technology under the GPRS standard. The defendants produce and market devices using the GPRS standard. On 10 April 2013, the claimant made a commitment towards ETSI by declaring to grant a license on FRAND terms regarding, inter alia, patent EP B1. In various letters and meetings between 2012 and 2015, the claimant informed the parent companies of the defendants about its patent portfolio and made an offer, but no licensing agreement was entered into. These interactions took place before the CJEU handed down its Huawei v. ZTE ruling in July 2015. On 3 November 2015, the District Court granted an injunction order. [1] The District Court also held that the defendants were liable for compensation in principle and ordered them to render full and detailed account of its sales. Further, the District Court ordered a recall and removal of all infringing products from the relevant distribution channels.

The defendants lodged an appeal with the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf. They argued, inter alia, that the District Court had not taken into account the procedural requirements set out by the CJEU in the decision Huawei v. ZTE [2] and that the claimant had not made a license offer on FRAND conditions. [3] The Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf partially granted the appeal. It held that the defendants were under an obligation to render accounts and that they owed compensation in principle. [4] However, it held that the defendants were under no obligation to recall and remove the products from the relevant distribution channels because the claimant was in breach of its obligations under EU competition law (‘kartellrechtlicher Zwangslizenzeinwand’). [5] The Higher Regional Court did not have to decide about the injunction order because the parties had agreed to settle the matter in this regard (the patent had expired in September 2016). [6]

B. Court’s reasoning

1. Market Power

The Higher Regional Court held that the claimant was a dominant undertaking within the meaning of Art 102 TFEU. [7] In the eyes of the court, proprietorship of an SEP does not automatically constitute a dominant market position because not all SEPs necessarily influence competition in the downstream product market. [8] Rather, it needs to be ascertained whether or not market dominance exists in respect of each SEP individually. A dominant market position exists, for example, if it would not be possible to successfully market a competitive product without using the respective SEP, or if compatibility and interoperability under the standard could not be guaranteed. In contrast, a dominant position does not exist if the technology covered by the SEP is only of little importance for consumers in the relevant market. [8] On this basis, the Higher Regional Court had no doubts that the claimant was in a dominant market position [9] because the patent in question was related to data transfer, an essential function of the GPRS standard. [10]

2. Notice of Infringement

The Higher Regional Court held that the claimant had given proper notice of infringement under the CJEU requirements. According to the court, the procedure set out by the CJEU in the Huawei v. ZTE ruling applied to transitional cases (i.e. proceedings that had commenced before the CJEU decision, but where the decisions were handed down after). [11] The District Court had wrongfully assumed that the Huawei v. ZTE principles did not apply to the case at hand. CJEU decisions pursuant to Art 267 TFEU apply ab initio (‘ex tunc’) and thus to transitional cases. [12] The Higher Regional Court argued that the Huawei v. ZTE case itself had been of a transitional nature and that the CJEU had been aware of the diverging principles created by the German Federal Court of Justice in the Orange Book Standard decision in 2009. [12] Nevertheless, the CJEU had not distinguished between transitional and ‘new’ cases. As a consequence, the claimant was under an obligation to notify the defendants of the infringement. The written correspondence between the parties from 2012 and 2013 met this requirement [13]

The Higher Regional Court also held that it was sufficient to notify the defendants’ parent companies. [14] The claimant can reasonably expect that the parent company will pass on the respective information to all subsidiaries that are active on the relevant product markets. Requiring the claimant to give additional notices to the subsidiaries would be an unjustified formality (‘bloße Förmelei’). [14]

3. The Defendant’s Willingness to Enter into a License Agreement

As a consequence, the defendants were under an obligation to declare their willingness to enter into a license agreement on FRAND terms. [15] Several months had passed between the notice of infringement and the defendants’ declaration of willingness. However, the defendants had made it clear in an email from December 2013 that they were willing to enter into a license agreement. In the eyes of the Higher Regional Court, this was sufficient because there was ample time between this declaration and the commencement of proceedings in 2014.

In the further course of the negotiations, the rejection of certain license terms by the defendant was not necessarily an indicator for general unwillingness. [16] The defendant’s willingness needs to be seen in the overall context of the case. Unwillingness would be demonstrated only if the defendant definitively and finally rejects the claimant’s offers (the ‘last word’). [16] The Higher Regional Court held that the statements made by the defendants in the course of the negotiations did not justify such a conclusion. [16]

4. The SEP Owner’s Licensing Offer and the Standard Implementer’s Reaction

The Higher Regional Court held that the District Court had been incorrect to leave open the question as to whether the claimant’s offer had been FRAND. [17] The Higher Regional Court took the view that the CJEU had established an intricate system of consecutive actions that the parties must take. A claimant needs to make an offer on FRAND terms only if the defendant declared its willingness to enter into a license agreement on FRAND terms. Similarly, a defendant is under an obligation to make a counter-offer on FRAND terms only if the claimant made an offer on FRAND terms. [18] According to the Higher Regional Court, this view flows from the wording of the Huawei v. ZTE ruling that relates the content of offer and counter-offer (‘such an offer’; ‘responded to that offer’). [18] An SEP owner who has given a commitment to an SSO to offer FRAND licenses can be expected to make a FRAND offer that can reasonably be accepted by the defendant. In addition, a defendant needs to be able to assess whether the conditions of the claimant’s offer are FRAND. Requiring a defendant to make a FRAND counter-offer no matter what the claimant had offered earlier would be a contradiction of this basic proposition of the Huawei v. ZTE ruling. [18] Thus, it was necessary to have a decision in respect of the conditions of the claimant’s licensing offer.

The Higher Regional Court held that the claimant’s licensing offer did not meet FRAND requirements [19] because it discriminated against the defendants. [20] The court reiterated that infringement courts cannot limit their assessment to a summary review of whether the conditions were not evidently non-FRAND. Rather, infringement courts need to make a full assessment of the license conditions. [21]

The court held that dominant undertakings are under no obligation to treat all business partners in exactly the same way. [22] SEP owners have discretion regarding the license fees that they charge. [23] Different treatment of licensees is accepted if it can be justified as a result of normal market behavior. [24] Further, license conditions can be abusive only if they are significantly different between licensees. [24] These principles also apply to SEP owners who have given a FRAND declaration because this commitment refers to Art 102 lit. c) TFEU. [25] The burden of proof for such substantially unequal treatment lies with the defendant, [26] whilst the onus is on the claimant to prove that this unequal treatment is justified. [26] However, as the defendant will typically not have the necessary information, the claimant is under an obligation to provide information as to which competitors have been granted licenses and on what terms. [26] On this basis the Higher Regional Court concluded that the claimant had treated the defendants significantly differently from their competitors [27] without having a proper justification. [28] In particular, the claimant could not prove that discounts given to a competitor were common in the industry, [29] or that these discounts were a result of the particularities of the case. [30]

  • [1] LG Düsseldorf, 3 November 2015, File No. 4a O 93/14
  • [2] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 32.
  • [3] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 34.
  • [4] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 75.
  • [5] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, paras 74 and 175.
  • [6] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 47.
  • [7] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, paras 177 et seqq.
  • [8] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 182.
  • [9] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 185.
  • [10] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 186.
  • [11] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 202.
  • [12] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 203.
  • [13] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 215.
  • [14] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 213.
  • [15] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 220.
  • [16] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 240.
  • [17] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 244.
  • [18] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 245.
  • [19] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 242.
  • [20] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 251.
  • [21] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 249.
  • [22] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 254.
  • [23] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, paras 255 and 257.
  • [24] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 256.
  • [25] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 257.
  • [26] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 258.
  • [27] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 263.
  • [28] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, para 268.
  • [29] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, paras 270 et seqq.
  • [30] OLG Düsseldorf, 30 March 2017, File No. I-15 U 66/15, paras 275 et seqq. and paras 290 et seqq.

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 [31] ,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 [32]

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 [33] 。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 [34] ,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 [35]

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 [36]

联邦法院于2020年5月5日做出的当前判决 [37] 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 [38]

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 [39] 。 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 [40]

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 [41] ,因此,需要将许多因素共同纳入考量 [42] 。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 [43]

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 [44]

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 [45] 。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 [46] 。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 [47] 。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 [48]

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 [49] 。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 [49] 。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 [49]

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 [50] 。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 [50]

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 [51]

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 [52] 。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 [52] 。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 [53]

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) [54]
  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 [55]

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 [56] 。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 [58] 。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 [58] 。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 [59]

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 [60] 。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 [61] 。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 [61] 。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) [61] 。 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 [62] 。这也适用于涉及多项专利和标准的情况 [62]

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 [63]

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 [64] 。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 [65] 。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 [65] 。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 [65] 。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 [66] 。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 [67]

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) [68] 。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 [68] 。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 [68]

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” [69]

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 [70] 。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 [70]

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 [71]

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 [72]

 

  • [31] Sisvel v Haier, District Court of Duesseldorf, judgment dated 3 November 2015, Case No. 4a O 93/14。
  • [32] Sisvel v Haier, Higher District Court of Duesseldorf, judgment dated 13 January 2016, Case No. I-15 U 66/15。
  • [33] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13。
  • [34] Sisvel v Haier, Higher District Court of Duesseldorf, judgment dated 30 March 2017, Case No. I-15 U 66/15。
  • [35] Federal Patent Court, judgment dated 6 October 2017, Case No. 6 Ni 10/15 (EP)。
  • [36] Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 10 March 2020, Case No. X ZR 44/18。
  • [37] 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)。
  • [38] 同上注, 段 9以下及段59。
  • [39] 同上注, 段 52。
  • [40] 同上注, 段 54。
  • [41] 同上注, 段 56。
  • [42] 同上注, 段 57 及以下。
  • [43] 同上注, 段 58。
  • [44] 同上注, 段 59 及以下。
  • [45] 同上注, 段 61。
  • [46] 同上注, 段 63。
  • [47] 同上注, 段 62。
  • [48] 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。
  • [49] 同上注, 段 64。
  • [50] 同上注, 段 65。
  • [51] 同上注, 段 67 及以下。
  • [52] 同上注, 段 69。
  • [53] 同上注, 段 70。
  • [54] 同上注, 段 71。
  • [55] 同上注, 段 72。
  • [56] 同上注, 段 73 及以下。
  • [57] 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。
  • [58] 同上注, 段 74。
  • [59] 同上注, 段 74 及段 85。
  • [60] 同上注, 段 89。
  • [61] 同上注, 段 85。
  • [62] 同上注, 段 87。
  • [63] 同上注, 段 86 及以下。
  • [64] 同上注, 段 91 及以下。
  • [65] 同上注, 段 92。
  • [66] 同上注, 段 93及以下。
  • [67] 同上注, 段 94。
  • [68] 同上注, 段 83。
  • [69] 同上注, 段 95。
  • [70] 同上注, 段 96。
  • [71] 同上注, 段 98。
  • [72] 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. [73] Most were part of a large patent portfolio that the claimant had acquired from a major telecommunications company in 2013. [74] 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. [75]

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. [76] 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. [77] Between August and October 2016 the parties exchanged further offers without reaching an agreement. [78]

The Patents Court (Birrs J) held that the claimant was in a dominant position, but did not abuse this position. [79] 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. [80]

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. [81] European case law indicated that owning an SEP could be a rebuttable presumption for the existence of a dominant position. [82] 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. [83]

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. [84] 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, [85] 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. [86] 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. [86]

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. [87] 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. [88] This approach also means that the SEP proprietor is under an obligation to make a FRAND offer and to enter into FRAND license agreements. [89]

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’). [90] This eliminates the so-called Vringo-problem, [91] 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. [92]

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. [93] 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, [95] 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. [95]

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. [96] 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. [97] 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. [98]

Second, the ‘hard-edged’ non-discrimination obligation, which takes into account the nature of the potential licensee, [97] 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. [99] 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. [98]

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. [100] 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. [100] This was illustrated by the fact that the vast majority of licenses introduced in the trial were worldwide licenses. [101] 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. [102] 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. [103]

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. [104] Other freely-negotiated license agreements might be used as comparables. [105] This may be compared with a top down approach [106] 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. [107] 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. [104] License agreements must meet certain criteria to be comparable. [108] 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. [108] 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%). [109]

2. Principles derived from Huawei v. ZTE

The court also provided a compiled overview of its interpretation of the Huawei v. ZTE ruling. [110] 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.
  • [73] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 2.
  • [74] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 54 et seqq.
  • [75] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 3.
  • [76] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 5.
  • [77] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 7-8.
  • [78] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 11-14.
  • [79] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 807.
  • [80] Unwired Planet v Huawei, EWHC 1304 (Pat).
  • [81] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 631.
  • [82] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 634.
  • [83] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 636-646.
  • [84] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 656.
  • [85] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 108-145.
  • [86] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 146.
  • [87] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 162.
  • [88] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 163.
  • [89] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 159.
  • [90] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 164.
  • [91] See Vringo v ZTE [2013] EWHC 1591 (Pat) and [2015] EWHC 214 (Pat).
  • [92] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 158.
  • [93] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 152.
  • [94] 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.
  • [95] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 153.
  • [96] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 176.
  • [97] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 177.
  • [98] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 503.
  • [99] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 501.
  • [100] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 544.
  • [101] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 534.
  • [102] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 546.
  • [103] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 572.
  • [104] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 171.
  • [105] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 170
  • [106] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 178
  • [107] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 806 (10)
  • [108] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 175.
  • [109] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 476.
  • [110] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), 744.

Updated 16 六月 2021

慕尼黑一区地区法院康文森诉戴姆勒案

慕尼黑地区法院
30 十月 2020 - Case No. 21 O 11384/19

A. 事实

原告康文森(Conversant)持有被声明为对实施多项无线通信标准而言(潜在)必要的专利(以下称“标准必要专利”或“SEPs”)。

康文森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)的条款和条件向标准实施人提供。

被告戴姆勒是一家总部位于德国的跨国汽车制造公司。戴姆勒在德国生产并销售具有实施欧洲电信标准协会所发展出的LTE标准的连网功能的汽车。

康文森于2018年10月加入了Avanci许可平台,该平台提供专为联网汽车量身定制的专利许可计划。

康文森于2018年12月18日向戴姆勒提出了全球范围内的双边许可要约,同时也向戴姆勒提供了与其所持有的标准必要专利组合相关的各项信息,其中也包括了该专利组合中所涵盖的若干专利的权利要求对照表。 在康文森于2019年2月27日对其发出了相应的提醒通知后,戴姆勒回复表示愿意签署FRAND许可协议的同时,也特别强调了对供应商进行知识产权许可在汽车行业中是一种很常见的做法。戴姆勒还要求康文森提供有关其所持有的专利组合现有被许可人的相关信息,并且就哪些专利在哪些对应的组件上实现,以及其所提供的条款为什么是符合FRAND的条款进行解释。随后,戴姆勒就专利持许可问题与Avanci开始进行谈判。

由于康文森接获了Avanci的通知表示其与戴姆勒间的许可谈判未获成功,康文森遂于2019年7月5日向戴姆勒发送了一封电子邮件,提出双方在2019年7月15日亲自会面的要求。 康文森同时也指出了参与 Avanci计划的汽车制造商在其所持有的标准必要专利组合下取得许可,并且通过引用相关判例(主要是英国高等法院于2017年4月5日所作成的无线星球诉华为案判决)在内的各种方式解释了构成其所提出的双边许可要约基础的许可费计算。康文森起先还打算向戴姆勒提供其所持有的专利组合中所包含的各项专利的完整清单,然而,相应的文件却因过失而未被添加到发送给戴姆勒电子邮件的附件之中。

戴姆勒于2019年7月29日作出回应,并表示其正与

Avanci进行许可谈判。戴姆勒重申了其认为在供应商层级进行许可更为高效此一观点,并且反驳认为,由于康文森尚未提供所有必要的信息,双方面对面的会议应该在稍后的时间点进行。

康文森于是于2019年8月13日在慕尼黑一区地区法院(以下称“法院”)对戴姆勒提起了侵权诉讼,而其中并未包含禁令救济主张。2019年8月24日,康文森将其在慕尼黑提起的诉讼告知戴姆勒,并指出其认为戴姆勒实际上并没有兴趣取得FRAND 许可。康文森并强调,在计算许可费时,应将(其专利)于终端产品阶段所产生的价值纳入考量。

2019年9月18日,戴姆勒重申了其取得许可的意愿,并且首次指出康文森在2019 年7月5日所发送的电子邮件中并未包含康文森所提及的专利组合的完整清单。这份清单其后于2019年9月20日被提交给戴姆勒。同时,康文森提议双方在2019年10月初召开会议面对面进行协商。戴姆勒于2019年10月8日回应称,由于所需的信息仍然缺失,该会议只能在十月底举行。

双方于2019年12月4日在戴姆勒总部会面。2020年1月15日,康文森将在本次会议进行过程中所演示的文稿发送给戴姆勒,并表示愿意为戴姆勒的一级供应商设定许可计划,同时为此也准备与戴姆及戴姆勒所有的一级供应商召开会议进行讨论。除此之外,康文森还提出了向中立的第三方寻求协助,例如采用仲裁程序来判定许可的价值。戴姆勒于2020年1月24日表示其已经与供应商进行了讨论,并且愿意组织一次会议。 2020年1月29日,康文森在其正于慕尼黑进行中的未决诉讼里对戴姆勒追加提出了禁令救济以及召回并销毁侵权产品的诉讼主张。

双方于2020年2月及3月就与戴姆勒的一级供应商会面的问题进行了讨论。然而,戴姆勒并未组织其所有供应商共同参加会议。

2020年4月8日,戴姆勒向康文森提出了许可反要约,该许可反要约是以在车辆上实现LTE连接功能的车载信息控制单元 (TCU) 这一元件的价值为基础来进行计算的。

康文森于2020年6月30日再度向戴姆勒提出了进一步的许可要约,但未获接受。 2020年8月10日,戴姆勒向康文森提供了有关其过去车辆销售的相关信息,并为其过去的使用提交了保证金。

法院在当前判决 [111] 中做出了包含对戴姆勒出发禁令在内的多项有利于康文森的裁决。
 

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,并且该专利遭受了侵权行为 [112] ,康文森所提出的索赔主张因此而被法院准许。

康文森就关于禁令救济以及召回并销毁侵权产品的诉讼主张也应该被准许。康文森对戴姆提起侵权诉讼的行为既不会构成《欧洲联盟运作条约》(TFEU)第102条所规定对市场支配地位的滥用行为(以下称“竞争法上抗辩”,参见下段第 1 项),也没有违反其因欧洲电信标准协会专利政策所应承担的合同义务(以下称“合同法上抗辩”,参见下段第 2 项) [113]
 

1. 竞争法上抗辩
市场支配地位

法院认为,康文森具备《欧洲联盟运作条约》第102条涵义下的市场支配地位 [114]

享有专利所授与的独占权本身并不会造成市场支配地位的形成 [115] 。当一项专利对符合标准发展组织所发展出的标准(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 [116] ,市场支配地位才会形成。在法院看来,此一原则适用于本案涉案专利 [117]

在本案中,可以排除康文森市场支配地位的特殊情况并不存在。法院认为,单就康文森向欧洲电信标准协会做出FRAND承诺,从而确立其必须依照FRAND条款与条件授予许可的义务这一事实本身,并不会排除康文森的市场支配地位,并且,此一问题决定性的关键在于标准必要专利持有人是否真正履行了这一义务 [118] 。此外,潜在实施人也可以选择从Avanci平台获得本案涉案专利许可的这一替代途径也并不会对康文森的市场支配地位造成限制 [119]
 

未构成对市场支配地位的滥用

尽管如此,法院认为,康文森向戴姆勒提起禁令救济以及召回并销毁侵权产品的诉讼这一行为并不会构成其对市场支配地位的滥用。

在实施人已经使用了受(专利)保护的标准化技术的情况下,对标准必要专利持有人行为的评估则需要采取更全面的综合分析,一方面需要考虑知识产权所享有的是宪法所赋予的强大保障,另一方面也需要将实施人可以实施标准的利益纳入考量,二者之间必须相互平衡 [120] 。在这种情况下,不仅只是私人利益,也应该将公共利益纳入考量范围之中 [121] 。法院强调,公共利益不应仅仅被视为“单纯的使用标准化技术各私人利益的总和”,而同时也应该包含对公众利益实质性的保护以保障知识产权的完整性并确保有效的执行力 [121]

考虑到标准必要专利在“本质上所具备的特殊性”,尤其是在通信领域,法院采取了与欧洲联盟法院(CJEU)华为诉中兴案判决(以下称“华为案判决”) [122] 一致的观点,认为对标准必要专利持有人施加某些特定的行为义务是合理且正当的。其原因基本上在于,与其他“普通”专利不同,标准必要专利是在专利持有人无需采取任何进一步行动的情况下,因该专利被纳入某一标准中而在市场上被确立 [123] 。因此,对于标准必要专利而言,通过授予专利技术的发明人在特定期间内的独占性的排他性权利来确保专利技术的发明人在市场上的竞争优势的需求,相较于非标准必要专利而言也就并不那么强烈 [124]

尽管如此,法院仍然明确表示,华为案判决对标准必要专利持有人所施加的行为义务仅存在于“严肃看待而不仅仅是口头上表示”愿意签署许可协议的实施人身上 [125] 。因此,一项基于对滥用市场支配地位的指控的抗辩只有在想要使用或者已经在未经授权的情况下使用专利的实施人愿意取得FRAND许可,并且在其与标准必要专利持有人进行许可谈判的整个过程中没有使用拖延战术的情况下,才有可能成立 [126] 。法院阐明到,华为案判决的关键概念在于谈判双方才是最有资格在公平、平衡且即时的许可谈判中确定 FRAND者,而是否能达成协议则将取决于谈判双方受为达成协议的实际“真诚动机”驱使的积极性参与 [127]
 

侵权通知

在对双方的行为进行审视后,法院认为,通过发送了日期为2018年12月18日的信函,康文森已经履行了就其标准必要专利遭受侵权情事对戴姆勒进行通知的义务,此信函的内容包含了与其专利组合相关的足够信息,其中也包括了数个各别专利所对应的权利要求对照表 [128] 。至于康文森是否充分解释了本信函中所附带的许可要约背后的许可费究竟是如何计算的则无关紧要,因为在此一阶段,康文森甚至还没有向戴姆勒提出许可要约的义务 [129]
 

取得许可的意愿

另一方面,法院认定戴姆勒不具备从康文森处取得许可的意愿。相反地,法院发现了一个“特别明显不具备取得许可意愿的案例” [130]

在内容方面,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”且“积极”的态度来进行许可谈判 [131] 。相反地,在对(第一次)侵权通知做出回应时,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才考虑取得许可进行谈判是不够的 [131]

法院阐明,关于实施人是否具备取得许可的意愿的评估,需要通过对截至侵权诉讼程序中口头听证程序结束为止的所有案例事实进行全面性的分析来确定 [132] 。实施人是否表达出取得许可的意愿这一问题,并不能通过对实施人行为的“形式性的简略印象”来回答;更重要的是,实施人不能持续保持被动状态,直到在实施人眼中看来标准必要专利持有人已经履行了其义务时 [132]

此外,法院强调,谈判进行中的时机是在评估实施人是否具备取得许可的意愿时必须纳入考量范围的一项因素 [133] 。否则,实施人将会缺乏及时且积极地参与谈判的动力 [134] 。关于即时的概念法院认为严格的期限无法被设定,仍需要视个案具体情况逐一评估 [135] 。然而,已被告知侵权的实施人有义务通过与标准必要专利持有人签署 FRAND 许可而尽快使对该专利的非法使用合法化 [135]

此外,法院认为,实施人是否以及在何时向标准必要专利持有人提出许可反要约也可以作为实施人是否具备取得许可意愿的“重要指标” [133] 30。在侵权诉讼程序开始后才提出的许可反要约在通常情况下是不被认可的 [136] 。法院认为,实施人仅仅为了“做表面功夫”而进行谈判,然后透过提出许可反要约来对在侵权诉讼中可能被定罪的劣势进行“紧急刹车”,这种行为是不应该被允许的 [134] 。仅有在实施人自谈判开始时就愿意,并且始终积极地参与与专利持有人间的讨论这种特殊的情况下,在诉讼审判期间提出的许可反要约才可以被纳入对判断是否具备取得许可意愿的考量范围中 [137]

承上所述,法院认为,一般而言,实施人最初采用的拖延战术是无法在稍后的某一个时间点不费吹灰之力而被“消除”的 [138] 。尽管如此,对取得许可的意愿迟来的表述并不会“自动”排除实施人在侵权诉讼程序中提出“FRAND抗辩”的权利:无论是否出现这种情况,都还是应该根据具体个案在历史谈判过程中的各别情况逐一进行判断 [139]

在此背景下,考虑到戴姆勒的整体行为,法院得出了结论——尽管对戴姆勒而言,以符合FRAND要求的原则行事实际上有可能并且是合理的 [140] ,而戴姆勒仍然选择了采用拖延战术 [141]

法院认为,戴姆勒将康文森导引至其供应商的行为,并未表达出其愿意依照“任何实际上符合FRAND 的条款”来取得许可的意愿,反而是明确地展现出其本身并不准备从康文森处取得许可的态度 [142] 。戴姆勒与其供应商之间可能存在的关于第三方知识产权的赔偿条款在此处并不能发挥任何作用,因为戴姆勒的行为独立地造成了对康文森所持有的专利的侵权行为,因此必须为此承担相应的责任 [142]

另一个显示出戴姆勒并不具备取得许可的意愿的征兆是,戴姆勒花了超过两个月的时间才通知康文森其并未收到那一份本应该被附加于康文森在2020年7月5日发送的电子邮件中但因过失而未被添加的专利组合清单 [143] 。法院同样批评了戴姆勒此前从未针对康文森所提供的权利要求对照表向康文森提出任何问题,反而却是在侵权诉讼审判过程中才对相关专利的质量提出质疑此一事实 [144]

法院在戴姆勒於2020年7月27日所作出的回覆中,還發現了另一个“重大性指標”顯示出戴姆勒並不具備取得許可的意愿,在此回覆中,戴姆勒明确表示其签署许可協議的意愿僅限于尚未被许可或者由不愿自行向康文森取得许可的供应商處所購買的產品 [145] 。法院對於戴姆勒将其供应商的“不具備取得許可的意愿”設定為其己身与康文森签署许可協議的条件這一選擇特別反感 [146]

此外,戴姆勒没有针对康文森在2019年12月4日举行的当事方会议上所提出的使用替代性争议解决机制,特别是以仲裁程序来确定FRAND许可费的提议做出回应,这一事实也被法院认为是戴姆勒方并不具备取得许可意愿的表现 [147]

法院指出,另一个“明显”展现出戴姆勒不具备取得许可意愿且采用拖延战术的迹象在于,于2019年12月4日双方间的讨论结束以后,尽管戴姆勒曾暗示其已与其供应商讨论过有关由供应商直接向康文森取得许可此一潜在选项,然而实际上戴姆勒并未组织其所有一级供应商就此议题召开会议讨论 [148]
 

许可反要约

随后,法院指出,戴姆勒于2020年4月8日所提出的许可反要约并无法弥补戴姆勒在此之前表现出的取得许可意愿缺失 [149] 。更有甚者,这更像是一种“不在场证明” [140]

在法院看来,由于此一许可反要约是在康文森对戴姆勒提出许可要约后的一年零四个月以后才提出的,此一许可反要约的发出是迟延的 [149] 。更重要的是,此一许可反要约是戴姆勒在侵权诉讼程序进行的过程中才提出的,如前所述,此一行为是不被认可的,因为在此之前戴姆勒很显然是不愿意取得许可的 [150] 。法院近一步阐明,戴姆勒以康文森未提供相关的必要信息为借口来正当化其延迟回覆的行为是站不住脚的,因为该许可反要约仅基于公开且可供公众使用的数据撰写,而并未进行任何进一步的详细分析;因此,该许可反要约本来可以在戴姆勒收到康文森初次许可要约后不久的一个更早的时间点发出 [151]

除此之外,法院也认为,戴姆勒所提出的许可反要约在内容上“显然并不符合FRAND” [152] 。根据概括性的分析,戴姆勒所提出的许可费被认为明显是过低的 [153]

法院指出,FRAND费率是一个数值范围,并且有多种可以用于计算 FRAND许可费的方法 [153] 。法院采用了所谓的“自上而下法”(此一方法康文森与戴姆勒双方都曾经使用过) [154] 。在检视过戴姆勒提出的按照“自上而下法”而进行的计算后,法院认为,将所有向欧洲电信标准协会作出声明其为标准必要专利的专利总数作为确定康文森所持有的与LTE相关的标准必要专利所占份额的基础这种做法并不符合FRAND [155] 。考虑到并非所有被声明为标准必要专利的专利实际上都确实属于标准必要专利(这种现象被称为“过度声明”),使用被声明的专利总数作为计算基础将有利于戴姆勒:如果采用的是真正属于LTE标准必要专利的(较低)专利数量做为计算的基础,则康文森所持有的标准专利数量就其本身而言将会变得更高 [155]

此外,法院也指出,采用车载信息控制单元的平均采购价格作为计算基础并不是在FRAND下适当的许可费计算基础 [156] 。标准必要专利的价值是通过许可费而体现的,而该许可费与所提供服务的价值应符合比例原则 [156] 。法院认为,在本案中,通过在戴姆勒汽车上提供支持LTE技术的相关功能以及戴姆勒汽车的消费者对这些功能的使用而创造了经济价值 [156] 。因此,在此处真正相关的是戴姆勒的消费者对因为LTE技术而得以在车辆上实现的各项功能所赋予的价值 [156] 。戴姆勒向供应商支付的车载信息控制单元的采购价格并不能反映该项价值 [156]
 

供应商提出的FRAND抗辩 / 许可层级

法院进一步阐明,戴姆勒不能援引其供应商(据称的)具备直接从康文森处取得许可的意愿做为其FRAND抗辩 [157]

如果一个实施人在声明了自己具备取得许可意愿的同时,也表示了希望该许可的授与可以在其供应商层级进行,则其有义务以书面形式全面地披露其产品中包含了哪些符合标准的元件,以及哪些供应商向其提供了哪些对应的元件 [158] 。如果此一信息披露义务并没有被履行,正如同本案的情况一样,则实施人要求在其供应商层级别进行许可的请求与实施人表示愿意与自己与标准必要专利持有人签署许可协议的声明彼此矛盾,因此,属于恶意行为(见德国民法典第242条) [159] 。在这种情况下,法院明确表示,实施人仍然有义务以一种及时且有目的性的态度积极地与标准必要专利持有人进行双边谈判,即便在实施人已经向标准必要专利持有人提供上述信息后,仍应该同时积极参与促进在供应商层级相关许可机制的建立 [160] 。并且,在与标准必要专利持有人的双边谈判过程中,实施人可以要求在许可协议中包含一项排除对供应商已取得许可的组件双重支付许可费的条款 [160]

承上所述,法院認為,康文森要求由戴姆勒來取得許可的做法並没有構成滥用或歧视性行為 [161]

法院认为,關於在供应链中對标准必要专利的许可应遵循所谓的“所有人均有權要求取得许可”或者是“所有人均有權使用许可”的作法这一基礎性问题,在此无需被回答 [162] 。在标准必要专利持有人与终端设备制造商之间的法律纠纷中,从竞争法的角度而言,只要标准必要专利持有人在诉讼中所追求達成的目标並不会将供应商完全排除在市场之外便已足夠;当供应商通过由终端设备制造商签署的许可協議建立的“委託製造”权而被授予对标准化技术的使用权时,情况正是如此,正如同此處康文森所提供的那样 [162] 。供应商是否有權要求單獨取得许可則是一个不同的问题,而這個問題可能可以在标准必要专利持有人与供应商之间的另外的訴訟程序中被提出 [163]

法院补充到,标准必要专利持有人有权自由决定对供应链中的哪个侵权者向法院提起诉讼 [164] 。该自由选择权源自于宪法对财产权的保障,以及专利作为一种排他性权利的本质 [165] 。 法院认为,尽管在汽车行业的普遍做法是当零部件被出售给汽车制造商时不受第三方权利的限制,然而这并会不因此使康文森要求戴姆勒取得许可的行为成为竞争法上的滥用行为 [166] 。终端设备制造商与其供应商间的各别协议仅具有双边(合同)效力而不能损害第三方的法律地位 [166] 。特别是,此类条款并不能限制标准必要专利持有人选择向供应链中哪个层级的实施人主张其专利权的权利 [167] 。法院指出,鉴于附加技术的整合符合戴姆勒进入新市场与吸引消费者群的经济利益,从竞争法上的角度而言,汽车行业是否有必要放弃其现有的做法并不重要 [167]

在此背景下,法院同时阐明,只要是侵权诉讼仅针对终端设备制造商发动,标准必要专利持有人对供应商并没有履行华为案判决所确定的义务 [168] 。因此,参与此类诉讼的供应商不能以例如略过单独向供应商发送侵权通知等理由而主张标准必要专利持有人滥用其市场支配地位 [169] 。法院否定了标准必要专利持有人应承担这种全面性的通知义务,因为尝试在多层次的复杂供应链中找出所有可能牵涉到的供应商既不可行也不合理 [170]

法院认为,关于标准必要专利持有人拒绝直接对供应商授与许可是否会构成对其市场支配地位的滥用这一问题,应视竞争法上的一般性原则而定 [171] 。在本案中,法院并没有发现充足的理由可以支撑这种滥用行为的成立 [171] 。法院不认为若是供应商没有取得一份专属于自己的双边许可协议,那么其就无法享有权利或将面临法律上的不确定性 [172] 。然而,取得一份专属于自己的双边许可协议将赋予供应商相较于通过“委托制造权”所取得者更广泛的经营自由,从而更能契合其商业利益的这一事实,在供应商对标准充分的使用权仍然可以通过“委托制造权”而被保障的情况下,此问题便与标准必要专利持有人及终端设备制造商间的诉讼程序没有任何相关性了 [173] 。于此范围内,法院同时指出,以“委托制造权”为基础的供应链内部合作在现实中广泛存在且十分普遍,并且也得到了欧盟相关法律的支持(见欧洲联盟委员会12 月 18 日关于与欧洲联盟条约第 85 (1) 条有关分包协议的评估的通知,OJ C 1,1979 年 1 月 3 日) [173]

最后,法院驳回了戴姆勒方关于康文森与Avanci平台的其他成员勾结,通过排除实施人对相关标准的使用而对实施人为具体歧视行为的指控 [174] 。法院并没有发现任何迹象表明此种情况确实存在,相反地,法院强调了专利池通常被认为具有促进竞争的效果,尤其是在欧盟法律体系之下(详见关于欧洲联盟运作条约第 101 条应用于技术转让协议的指南第245段;2014/C 89/03) [174]
 

2. 合同法上抗辩

法院进一步指出,戴姆勒无法因其被授与FRAND许可而引用合同法上的抗辩以对抗康文森的禁令救济主张,因为此种主张并不存在 [175] 。戴姆勒曾经主张,根据康文森对欧洲电信标准协会所作出的FRAND承诺,康文森不被允许向法院提出禁令救济主张。

法院认为,欧洲电信标准协会的FRAND承诺并未创造出与欧盟竞争法(特别是《欧洲联盟运作条约》第 102 条)规定下所应遵守或享有者不同的义务或权利,而在本案中,康文森已经满足了这些要求 [176] 。在法律上,欧洲电信标准协会的FRAND承诺是根据法国法律所规定的为第三方利益所签订的合同(’stipulation pour l’autrui’),其中包含了标准必要专利持有人必须在稍后时间点授予 FRAND 许可这项具有约束力的承诺 [177] 。然而,关于许可协商的进行以及相对应的义务的内容及范围应按华为案判决所创立的规则来解释,这些规则包括了依据《欧洲联盟运作条约》第 102 条所制定的行为准则 [177] 。事实上,欧洲电信标准协会的FRAND承诺实现了在《欧洲联盟运作条约》第 102 条的规定下提供对标准的使用权的要求,同时也支持采用统一的行为标准 [177] 。在法院看来,法国法律不能创设其他进一步的行为义务,因为法国法律也必须按照欧盟法律的精神来进行解释 [177]
 

C. 其他重要问题

最后,基于比例原则的考量,法院采取了没有理由限制康文森禁令救济主张的观点 [178] 。根据德国法律,比例原则是一项具备宪法位阶的一般性法律原则,如果被告在审判中根据此项原则提出了相应的反对意见,则在审查是否核准禁令救济时也应将此原则纳入考量范围之中 [178] 。德国联邦法院(Bundesgerichtshof)也认可在实施人将遭受的损害因为专利持有人行使其排他性权利时违反诚信原则而无法被合理化的情况下,禁令将可能无法立即被执行(详见2016 年 5 月 10 日’Wärmetauscher’案裁决,案件编号 X ZR 114/13) [178] 。然而,在法院看来,戴姆勒在本次诉讼中并未就任何相关事实进行抗辩 [178]
 

  • [111] Conversant v Daimler, District Court of Munich I, 30 October 2020, Case-No. 21 O 11384/19 (cited by juris)。
  • [112] 同上注,段122-265。
  • [113] 同上注,段285。
  • [114] 同上注,段286。
  • [115] 同上注,段288。
  • [116] 同上注,段287及以下。
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  • [118] 同上注,段295。
  • [119] 同上注,段296。
  • [120] 同上注,段299。
  • [121] 同上注,段300。
  • [122] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13。
  • [123] Conversant v Daimler, District Court of Munich I, 30 October 2020, Case-No. 21 O 11384/19, 段301。
  • [124] 同上注,段301。
  • [125] 同上注,段307。
  • [126] 同上注,段308。
  • [127] 同上注,段302及308。
  • [128] 同上注,段323及以下。
  • [129] 同上注,段324。然而,法院对于康文森仅提及英国高等法院在无限星球诉华为案中使用的计算方法是否足以解释其向戴姆勒所提供的费率表示怀疑。
  • [130] 同上注,段309。
  • [131] 同上注,段310。
  • [132] 同上注,段316。
  • [133] 同上注,段311。
  • [134] 同上注,段312。
  • [135] 同上注,段320。
  • [136] 同上注,段312及316。
  • [137] 同上注,段315。
  • [138] 同上注,段317及以下。
  • [139] 同上注,段321。
  • [140] 同上注,段357。
  • [141] 同上注,段322及358。
  • [142] 同上注,段328。
  • [143] 同上注,段331及336。
  • [144] 同上注,段332。
  • [145] 同上注,段334及336。
  • [146] 同上注,段335。
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  • [149] 同上注,段339。
  • [150] 同上注,段340。
  • [151] 同上注,段355及以下。
  • [152] 同上注,段341及354。
  • [153] 同上注,段341。
  • [154] 同上注,段341及348。
  • [155] 同上注,段352。
  • [156] 同上注,段353。
  • [157] 同上注,段360。
  • [158] 同上注,段362。
  • [159] 同上注,段362及364。
  • [160] 同上注,段363。
  • [161] 同上注,段365。
  • [162] 同上注,段366。
  • [163] 同上注,段367。
  • [164] 同上注,段368及382。
  • [165] 同上注,段368。
  • [166] 同上注,段370。
  • [167] 同上注,段372。
  • [168] 同上注,段373及376-378。
  • [169] 同上注,段373。
  • [170] 同上注,段373及382。
  • [171] 同上注,段373及379。
  • [172] 同上注,段374。
  • [173] 同上注,段375。
  • [174] 同上注,段380。
  • [175] 同上注,段384。
  • [176] 同上注,段384及以下。
  • [177] 同上注,段385。
  • [178] 同上注,段269。

Updated 3 二月 2020

Philips v Wiko

OLG Karlsruhe
30 十月 2019 - Case No. 6 U 183/16

A. Facts

The Claimant, Philips, holds patents declared as (potentially) essential to the practice of wireless telecommunications standards (Standard Essential Patents or SEPs) developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), including SEPs reading on the UMTS and LTE standards. Philips committed towards ETSI to make its SEPs accessible to standard users on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms and conditions.

The Defendant is the German subsidiary of the Wiko group of companies, which has its headquarters in France (Wiko). Wiko sells mobile phones implementing the LTE standard in Germany.

In October 2014, Philips informed the parent company of the Wiko group about its SEP portfolio, but did not receive a response. In July 2015, Philips shared a draft licensing agreement for its SEP portfolio as well as claim charts referring to several of its SEPs with the parent company of the Wiko group, which again did not react at all. In September 2015, Philips shared further technical details regarding its SEPs.

On 19 October 2015, Philips brought an infringement action against Wiko before the District Court of Mannheim based on one of its SEPs, requesting for injunctive relief, information and rendering of accounts, destruction and recall of infringing products from the market as well as a declaratory judgment confirming Wiko’s liability for damages on the merits.

On the next day, 20 October 2015, Wiko sent a letter to Philips, in which it declared its willingness to enter into negotiations with the latter for a licence covering ‘valuable’ patents. In August 2016, during the course of the pending infringement proceedings, Wiko made a counteroffer to Philips. Philips did not accept this offer. Subsequently, Wiko provided security to Philips for the use of its patents, calculated on basis of its counteroffer.

By judgment dated 25 November 2016 [179] , the District Court of Mannheim granted Philips’ claims almost to the full extent. Wiko appealed the District Court’s judgement. In addition, by way of a counterclaim, Wiko requested disclosure of existing licensing agreements signed by Philips with similarly situated licensees (comparable agreements).

With the present judgment [180] , the Higher District Court of Karlsruhe (Court) overturned the ruling of the District Court in part. In detail, the Court confirmed Philips’ claims for information and the rendering of accounts as well as Wiko’s liability for damages on the merits. The Court, however, rejected Philips’ claims for injunctive relief, destruction and recall of infringing products from the market.

Apart from that, the Court also rejected Wiko’s counterclaim regarding the production of comparable agreements in the proceedings.


B. Court’s reasoning

The Court confirmed that Wiko’s products infringe the patent in suit [181] .

Contrary to the view taken previously by the District Court, the Court found, however, that Article 102 of the Treaty for the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) prevents Philips from enforcing the claims for injunctive relief as well as the recall and destruction of infringing products asserted in the infringement proceedings for the time being [182] . In the Court’s eyes, Philips had failed to meet the conduct obligations established by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in the matter Huawei v ZTE [183] (Huawei framework or obligations) [184] .

Huawei framework

The Court explained that SEP holder’s failure to meet its Huawei obligations will – as a rule – render an infringement action resulting in an exclusion of the implementer from a downstream market (action for injunctive relief and/or recall and destruction of products) abusive in terms of Article 102 TFEU [185] . This will, however, not be the case, when the implementer himself fails to fulfil its duties under the Huawei framework; if the implementer acts in bad faith as an ‘unwilling’ licensee, then SEP holder’s Huawei obligations are ‘suspended’ [185] . As a result, asserting the rights to injunctive relief and/or the destruction and recall of infringing products in court could then be considered as a justified reaction of the SEP holder to the implementer’s unwillingness to enter into a FRAND licence [185] .

Having said that, the Court expressed the view that the parties can remedy potential flaws in their conduct under the Huawei judgment and/or even fulfil their Huawei obligations for the first time during the course of pending infringement proceedings [186] . The Court noted that in Huawei v ZTE, the CJEU did not require that the parties fulfil all conduct obligations established prior to the initiation of court proceedings [187] . In the Court’s eyes, denying the parties such possibility is not compatible either with the general principle of proportionality known to European law, nor with the German civil procedural law, according to which courts need to consider all facts relevant for their decision-making raised in the proceedings until the end of the oral arguments [188] .

Accordingly, an infringement action that did not give rise to any antitrust concerns at the time it was filed, can be considered as abusive at a later point in time, if the situation significantly changed, e.g. the implementer fulfilled its Huawei obligations in the meantime [189] . Vice versa, an action of an abusive nature can later on be ‘corrected’, if the patent holder performs its duties under the Huawei framework during the course of the pending proceedings [189] .

In the Court’s view, a SEP holder seeking to remedy (or fulfil for the first time) obligations under the Huawei framework after the initiation of infringement proceedings must make sure that pressure-free licensing negotiations between the parties are enabled, as required by the CJEU in Huawei v ZTE [190] . For this, the patent holder must use procedural tools available under German law, particularly a motion for suspension of the trial [190] . The SEP holder can also propose a consensual stay of the proceedings, especially when a parallel nullity action against the patent in suit is pending before the Federal Patent Court [190] . In case such a motion is filed, the Court expects that a ‘willing’ implementer will consent to a suspension of the proceedings [190] .

On the other hand, the Court pointed out that fulfilment of Huawei obligations by the implementer after the beginning of infringement proceedings does not necessarily lead to a dismissal of the claims asserted by the SEP holder [191] . Indeed, if the implementer meets its Huawei duties at a very late point in time in the proceedings (e.g. shortly before the closing of the oral arguments), the Court could eventually neglect this fact in its decision [192] . This way, delays can be avoided. In this context, the Court also made clear that the implementer is not in a position to cause a unilateral suspension of the proceedings; in contrast to the opposite case (that is cases, in which a stay of the proceedings is suggested by the claimant), the SEP holder will usually not be required to agree to a suspension of the proceedings proposed by the implementer, in order to allow pressure-free negotiations to take place [192] . Insofar, the implementer bears the risk that the fulfilment of its obligations under the Huawei framework in the course of a pending infringement trial will have no impact [192] .

Notification of infringement

Looking at the specific conduct of the parties in the present case, the Court found that Philips had fulfilled its obligation to notify Wiko about the infringement of the SEP in suit prior to the commencement of the infringement proceedings.

The Court confirmed that a notification addressed to the parent company within a group of companies will usually be sufficient under the Huawei framework [193] . In terms of content, the Court was satisfied by the fact that Philips’ letter from July 2015 named the patent in suit as well as the relevant part of standard document implementing the technical teachings of this patent [194] . The Court explained that the notification does not have to contain (further) information required for a final assessment of the validity and essentiality of the patent in suit [194] . Accordingly, the SEP holder is not obliged to share claims charts customarily used in SEP licensing negotiations with the implementer along with the notification of infringement [194] .

Willingness to enter into a licence

The Court further found that Wiko had sufficiently met its obligation to express its willingness to negotiate a licence with Philips [195] .

The Court agreed with the assessment of the District Court that Wiko’s initial reaction to Philips’ notification in July 2015 by letter dated 20 October 2015 was belated. According to the Court, the time available to the implementer for expressing its willingness to enter into negotiations for a licence will – as a rule – not exceed two months [196] . This period of time will usually be sufficient: since by declaring its willingness to enter into negotiations the implementer does not waive any rights (especially the right to contest the validity and/or infringement of the patents in question), it shall not be given more time than the time needed for an ‘initial overview’ of the SEP holder’s claims [196] . Delaying tactics potentially applied by the implementer must be prevented [196] . Against this background, Wiko’s letter dated 20 October 2015 was sent to Philips too late.

Nevertheless, the Court found that Wiko had remedied the belated response after the beginning of the infringement proceedings. On the one hand, Wiko’s letter dated 20 October 2015 had reached Philips at a very early stage of the proceedings, namely just some days after the action was filed [197] . In addition, Wiko had confirmed its willingness to enter into negotiations with Philips expressed in said letter during the course of the proceedings, by making a counteroffer, rendering accounts and providing security to Philips [197] .

SEP holder’s offer

On the other hand, the Court held that Philips had failed to comply with its obligation to make a FRAND licensing offer to Wiko. In particular, the Court took the view that Philips did not provide sufficient information to Wiko with respect to its licensing offer dated July 2015 [198] .

The Court argued that the ‘fairness’ element of the FRAND commitment establishes an ‘information duty’ (‘Informationspflicht’) of the SEP holder with respect to the content of its licensing offer to the implementer [199] . This duty exists besides the patent holder’s duty to make a FRAND licensing offer to the implementer [200] .

In terms of scope, the Court found that the information duty is, basically, not limited to the calculation of the offered royalty but also covers (objective) facts showing that the ‘contractual compensation factors’ (‘vertragliche Vergütungsfaktoren’) are not discriminatory [201] . The extent of the information to be shared depends on the circumstances of the specific ‘licensing situation’ [201] .

In case that the patent holder has already granted licences to third parties, the information duty will extend also towards its ‘licensing practice’, including comparable agreements [202] .

If the SEP holder uses exclusively a standard licensing programme, then it will be sufficient to show that said programme has been accepted in the market and that the offer made to the implementer corresponds with the standard licensing agreement used [202] .

On the other hand, if the SEP holder has concluded individual licensing agreements with third licensees, then it would be obliged to disclose – at least – the content of the key contractual terms in a way that would allow the implementer to identify whether (respectively why) the offer it received is subject to dissimilar conditions [202] . The Court made, however, clear that – contrary to the approach adopted by the Duesseldorf courts – the SEP holder is not obliged in any case to disclose the full content of all existing comparable agreements [202] . In the eyes of the Court, the information duty serves only the purpose of facilitating good will licensing negotiations. A full disclosure of comparable agreement is, however, uncommon in practice [202] .

In this context, the Court pointed out that the patent holder will have to adequately substantiate the content of ‘justified confidentiality interests’ that might hinder the disclosure of comparable agreements [202] . Furthermore, the SEP holder would need to facilitate the conclusion of a Non-Disclosure Agreement which would allow sharing further information with the implementer [202] .

Based on the above considerations, the Court found that Philips had not fulfilled its information duty at any time [203] . In particular, the Court criticized that Philips did not adequately explain the reasons for choosing to agree on a lump sum payment (instead of a running royalty) in an existing agreement with a third licensee [204] . The fact that companies of different size were affected did not relieve Philips from its information duty; according to the Court, the mere fact that two competitors in a downstream market are of different size does not per se offer sufficient ground for different treatment [205] .

Since the Court assumed that Philips had failed to meet its information duties, it did not examine whether Philips’ licensing offer to Wiko was FRAND in terms of content [206] . In this respect, the Court seemed to agree, however, with the notion that FRAND is a range providing parties with a degree of flexibility [207] .

Implementer’s claim for disclosure of comparable agreements

Referring to the counterclaim for full disclosure of Philips’ comparable agreements raised by Wiko in the appeal proceedings, the Court clarified that a respective right of Wiko does not exist [208] .

Such a right does not arise either from German civil law (Articles 809 and 810 German Civil Code) [208] or Article 102 TFEU [209] . Furthermore, a right for disclosure of comparable agreement can neither be extracted by the SEP holder’s FRAND commitment to ETSI [210] . The Court saw no indication that French law (which is applicable to the ETSI FRAND undertaking) establishes such a right in favour of standards implementers [211] .

C. Other important issues

The Court pointed out that the claims for damages as well as information and rendering of accounts also asserted by Philips in the present proceedings are not subject to the Huawei framework [212] . Moreover, the Court explained that the non-fulfilment of the Huawei obligations by the patent holder poses no limitations on these rights in terms of content [213] . This is particularly true with respect to SEP holder’s claim to request information about expenses and profits from the implementer5 [214] .

  • [179] Philips v Wiko, District Court (Landgericht) of Mannheim, judgment dated 25 November 2016, Case No. 7 O 44/16.
  • [180] Philips v Wiko, Higher District Court of Mannheim, judgment dated 25 November 2016, Case No. 7 O 44/16, cited by http://lrbw.juris.de.
  • [181] Ibid, paras. 37-87.
  • [182] Ibid, para. 88.
  • [183] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C 170/13.
  • [184] Philips v Wiko, Higher District Court of Mannheim, judgment dated 25 November 2016, para. 108.
  • [185] Ibid, para. 107.
  • [186] Ibid, paras. 117 et seqq.
  • [187] Ibid, para. 119.
  • [188] Ibid, paras. 120 et seq.
  • [189] Ibid, para. 120.
  • [190] Ibid, para. 125.
  • [191] Ibid, para. 126.
  • [192] Ibid, para. 127.
  • [193] Ibid, para. 111.
  • [194] Ibid, para. 112.
  • [195] Ibid, paras. 115 and 117.
  • [196] Ibid, para. 115.
  • [197] Ibid, para. 129.
  • [198] Ibid, paras. 131 et seqq.
  • [199] Ibid, paras. 132 et seq.
  • [200] Ibid, para. 135.
  • [201] Ibid, para. 133.
  • [202] Ibid, para. 134.
  • [203] Ibid, paras. 136 et seqq.
  • [204] Ibid, para. 136.
  • [205] Ibid, para. 138.
  • [206] Ibid, para. 131.
  • [207] Ibid, para. 106.
  • [208] Ibid, paras. 157 et seqq.
  • [209] Ibid, paras. 162 et seqq.
  • [210] Ibid, paras. 160 et seq.
  • [211] Ibid, para. 161.
  • [212] Ibid, para. 143.
  • [213] Ibid, para. 144.
  • [214] Ibid, paras. 145 et seqq.

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 [215] . 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 [216] (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 [217] . 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 [219] . 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) [222] .
 

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 [231] . 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 [231] .

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. [232] 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. [233] The fact that a party fails to contribute in negotiations towards a FRAND agreement will regularly be considered to its detriment. [234] 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. [235]

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. [236] Otherwise, competition could be distorted, because the infringer would gain unfair advantages over implementers that have taken a licence in a timely manner. [236]

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. [240]

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. [251] 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 [252] . 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 [252] . 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 [253] . 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. [254]

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 [255] . 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 [257] .

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. [259] 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'. [259]

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 [267] . 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. [274]

What is more, Sisvel's claim for damages was not limited to the amount of a FRAND licensing rate ('licensing analogy'). [275] 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. [274] 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

  • [215] 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).
  • [216] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13.
  • [217] 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).
  • [218] Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 28 April 2020, Case No. X ZR 35/18.
  • [219] Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 5 May 2020, Case No. KZR 36/17.
  • [220] Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 24 November 2020, Case No. KZR 35/17 (cited by ).
  • [221] Ibid, paras. 10-43.
  • [222] Ibid, para. 44.
  • [223] Ibid, paras. 48 et seqq.
  • [224] Ibid, para. 49.
  • [225] Ibid, para. 52.
  • [226] Ibid, para. 53.
  • [227] Ibid, para. 54.
  • [228] Ibid, para. 55.
  • [229] Ibid, para. 84.
  • [230] Ibid, paras. 86 et seqq.
  • [231] Ibid, para. 57.
  • [232] Ibid, para. 58.
  • [233] Ibid, para. 59.
  • [234] Ibid, para. 60.
  • [235] Ibid, para. 62.
  • [236] Ibid, para. 61.
  • [237] Ibid, para. 63.
  • [238] Ibid, para. 65.
  • [239] Ibid, para. 68.
  • [240] Ibid, paras. 66 and 68.
  • [241] Ibid, para. 69.
  • [242] Ibid, para. 69. See Nokia v Daimler, District Court of Duesseldorf, order dated 26 November 2020, Case No. 4c O 17/19.
  • [243] Ibid, paras. 70 and 71.
  • [244] Ibid, para. 71.
  • [245] Ibid, para. 72.
  • [246] Ibid, para. 73.
  • [247] Ibid, para. 74.
  • [248] Ibid, para. 76.
  • [249] Ibid, para. 77.
  • [250] Ibid, paras. 79 et seqq.
  • [251] Ibid, para. 83.
  • [252] Ibid, para. 87.
  • [253] Ibid, paras. 88 et seqq.
  • [254] Ibid, para. 89.
  • [255] Ibid, paras. 93 et seqq.
  • [256] Ibid, para. 95.
  • [257] Ibid, paras. 96-99.
  • [258] Ibid, paras. 102 et seqq.
  • [259] Ibid, para. 102.
  • [260] Ibid, paras. 108 et seqq.
  • [261] Ibid, para. 116.
  • [262] Ibid, para. 118.
  • [263] Ibid, paras. 124 et seqq.
  • [264] Ibid, para. 124.
  • [265] Ibid, para. 125.
  • [266] Ibid, para. 126.
  • [267] 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.
  • [268] Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 24 November 2020, Case No. KZR 35/17, para. 107.
  • [269] Ibid, para. 56.
  • [270] Ibid, paras. 127 et seqq.
  • [271] Ibid, para. 130.
  • [272] Ibid, para. 131.
  • [273] Ibid, paras. 131 et seq.
  • [274] Ibid, para. 135.
  • [275] Ibid, paras. 134 et seqq.

Updated 17 一月 2018

Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat)

英国法院判决
7 六月 2017 - Case No. HP-2014-000005

A. Facts and Main Judgment

The claimant is a company that grants licenses for patented technologies in the telecommunications industry. The patents at issue relate to telecommunication network coding and procedures. 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 and one non-technical trial relating to competition law issues, FRAND issues, injunctive relief and damages for past infringements.Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), available at http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Patents/2017/1304.html In its decision on 5 April 2017 (the ‘main judgment’), the Patents Court (Birrs J) held that two patents were valid and that they had been infringed, and that the claimant was in a dominant position, but had not abused this position. The court stated that a final decision about an injunction to restrain patent infringements should be made separately. A few weeks after the main judgment, a license representing the FRAND terms between the two parties was prepared (the ‘settled license’), but had not yet been entered into. [277] Further, the defendant offered to give an undertaking to the court to enter into the license settled by the Patents Court or any other court. [278]

In its subsequent decision on 7 June 2017 (the case at hand), the parties argued whether the court should grant an injunction order given the existence of the settled license. Other minor issues of the case related to damages, declaratory relief, costs and permission to appeal. [279] The court granted an injunction for infringements of patents EP (UK) 2 229 744 and EP (UK) 1 230 818 (the ‘final order’). [280] The injunction order would be discharged if the defendant entered into a FRAND license and it would be stayed pending appeal. The court also declared that the settled license represented the FRAND terms in the given circumstances between the parties and that the defendant had to pay GBP 2.9 million of the claimant’s costs. Permission to appeal was granted to the defendant in respect of three issues and to the claimant in respect of one issue. [280]

B. Court’s Reasoning

1. Injunction

The main issue considered by the court was the interplay between the injunction, the settled license and the undertaking offered by the defendant. Patent EP (UK) 2 229 744 will expire in 2028. The settled license’s expiry date is 31 December 2020, [281] which would put the defendant in a difficult position if it attempts to renegotiate the license while the injunction is still in place. The defendant would even risk being in contempt of court if it continued to sell equipment if there was an argument that the license had come to an end for other reasons (e.g. repudiatory breach of contract). [282] However, the court took the view that it cannot be said that the defendant must be free to sell products if the license has ceased to exist. [281] Similarly, it cannot be said with certainty that the claimant must have an injunction at that date.

Thus, the court considered what the correct form of injunction in respect of a FRAND undertaking should be when a court has settled a license but the defendant has not entered into it (‘FRAND injunction’). [283] The court held that the FRAND injunction should contain a proviso that it will cease to have effect as soon as the defendant enters into the FRAND license. The injunction should also be subject to an express liberty to either party to return to court in the future if the FRAND license ceases to exist or expires while the patent is still valid. [283]

The court also held that despite the court’s discretion as to whether an injunction is granted, an injunction is normally effective, proportionate and dissuasive in IP cases. [284] Although the practical effect of a defendant’s undertaking and an injunction are similar, rights holders usually insist on an injunction. [285] One reason is that it involves a public vindication of the claimant’s rights. [285] As the claimant has been forced to come to court, an offer of undertaking after judgment is usually considered too late. [285] In this case, the defendant had maintained throughout the negotiations and the trial that it was under no obligation to accept a worldwide license. [286] Thus, according to the court, the right thing to do was to grant a FRAND injunction which will be stayed on terms pending appeal.

2. Other Issues

The court held that the issue of damages is closely related to the main issue. [287] If the defendant entered into the settled license, all payments would be covered by the license. If the defendant did not enter into the settled license, an order for damages is required. As a consequence, the court order should be in the same form as the FRAND injunction (stayed pending appeal and ceasing to have effect if the parties enter into the settled license). [287]

The parties also disagreed about the wording of the court declaration regarding the FRAND terms of the settled license. [288] The court dismissed the defendant’s suggestion as too complicated and the claimant’s suggestion as incomprehensive. Instead, the court declaration would be ‘the license annexed to the judgment represents the FRAND terms applicable between the parties in the relevant circumstances’. [289] Further, the court rejected the defendant’s petition to make a declaration that the claimant had not abused its dominant market position. [290] It took the view that the main judgment made a clear finding on this issue in summary paragraph 807(17).

Further, the parties disagreed about the extent of the defendant’s obligation to bear the claimant’s costs. The claimant argued that it should be regarded as the successful party so that the defendant had to pay its costs (GBP 6.4million). [291] The defendant argued the claimant had been clearly wrong regarding the applicable FRAND rate [292] and the appropriate thing would be to make no cost order. The court rejected the idea that there was no overall winner (as argued by the defendant) because the claimant was successful on the issues of the nature of the license and the existence and abuse of market dominance. [293] The ensuing question was whether any deductions were appropriate. [294] The court held that neither party had offered terms that were essentially FRAND. [295] However, the rates offered by the claimant were significantly further away from the end result than the rates offered by the defendant. [295] Thus, the defendant’s costs in relation to the FRAND rate issue were not recoverable by the claimant.

The fifth and final issue was in respect of permission to appeal. The court granted the defendant permission on three grounds: first, the necessity of granting a global license (including the court’s view that there is only one applicable license fee); [296] second, the hard-edged non-discrimination point; [297] and third, the issue of injunctive relief and abuse of market dominance under the CJEU ruling Huawei v. ZTE. [298] Conversely, the claimant was granted permission to appeal on the blended global benchmark issue (using a blended global rate as a benchmark, leading to the question whether another discount for the Chinese market should given). [299]

  • [276] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), available at http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Patents/2017/1304.html
  • [277] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), para 2.
  • [278] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), para 8.
  • [279] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), para 1.
  • [280] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), para 70.
  • [281] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), para 22.
  • [282] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), para 19.
  • [283] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), para 20.
  • [284] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), para 25.
  • [285] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), para 26.
  • [286] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), para 29.
  • [287] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), para 33.
  • [288] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), para 34.
  • [289] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), para 36.
  • [290] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), para 38.
  • [291] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), paras 39-40.
  • [292] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), para 41.
  • [293] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), para 44.
  • [294] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), para 45.
  • [295] Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat), para 56.
  • [296] See Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 170 et seqq.
  • [297] See Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 177 and 481 et seqq.
  • [298] See Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 627 et seqq.
  • [299] See Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 537 et seqq.

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). [300] 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 [301] (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 [302] .
 

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. [303]

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. [304] 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. [305]
 

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. [306]

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. [307] 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. [308] In terms of content, the notification must identify the patent infringed, the form of infringement and also designate the infringing embodiments. [308] Detailed technical or legal analysis of the infringement allegation is not required. [308] The production of so-called 'claim charts', which is common in practice, will, as a rule, suffice, but is not mandatory. [308] If the patent holder offers a portfolio licence, respective extended information duties occur. [308]

In the present case, it was not disputed that Sisvel had notified Wiko about the patent-in-suit prior to litigation. [309] As far as Wiko complained that no claim charts were presented before trial, the Court reiterated that no respective obligation of Sisvel existed. [310] 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. [309]
 

Willingness to obtain a licence

The Court then found that Wiko behaved as an unwilling (potential) licensee both prior and during the infringement proceedings [311] . 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. [312]

According to the Court, the 'expression of a general willingness to license' is not sufficient for assuming that an implementer is a 'willing licensee'. [313] Moreover, the implementer must 'clearly and unambiguously' declare willingness to conclude a license agreement on FRAND terms, 'whatever FRAND terms may actually look like" [313] . The respective declaration must be 'serious and unconditional'. [313]

The Court highlighted that for the assessment of willingness the overall facts and the particular conduct of the implementer shall be taken into account. [313] Willingness is not 'static': the finding that an implementer was willing (or unwilling) at a certain moment in time does not remain unchanged henceforth. [313]

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. [314] 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. [315] 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. [315]

In the view of the Court, the above requirements are in line with the Huawei v ZTE judgment (Huawei judgment or Huawei) [316] of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU). [317] 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. [318]

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. [319] Such behaviour could be justified in individual cases, especially when the SEP holder does not act in a 'target-oriented' manner itself. [319] Nevertheless, implementers must, as a rule, react timely even to a belated action of the SEP holder. [319] 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. [319]

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. [320] A willing implementer would have, however, sought a licence independently of the initiation of legal steps and independently of the course of litigation. [321] 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. [322] 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). [323]

The Court identified also further facts that indicate that Wiko engaged in delaying tactics. [324] 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) [325] . It also demanded further claim charts in February 2018, years after the action was filed. [326]

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. [327] 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. [328] 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. [329]

Furthermore, the Court clarified that -contrary to Wiko's view- school holidays and/or staff shortages cannot provide sufficient justification for delays in negotiations. [330] Even if such circumstances occur, a willing implementer would have communicated any obstacles immediately. [330] 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. [331] In fact, no such duty had arisen in the present case, due to Wiko's unwillingness to obtain a licence. [331] 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. [332] 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 [332] ; indeed, parties are best situated to determine the exact content of FRAND in a specific setting. [332]

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'. [333] 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. [334] 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. [335]

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. [336] The SEP holder's FRAND commitment does not give rise to such obligation. [336] 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. [336] 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. [337]

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. [337] 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. [338] 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. [339]

Against this background, the Court found that none of the offers made to Wiko during the infringement proceedings was 'clearly and evidently' non-FRAND. [340] 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. [341] 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. [342] 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. [343]

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. [344] On the other hand, Wiko had worldwide activities, so that a licence with a limited scope would not provide sufficient coverage. [344]

The fact that some of the patents included in Sisvel's portfolio were -allegedly- not standard-essential did not render the offers 'un-FRAND'. [345] 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. [346] Implementers can reserve the right to challenge the validity and essentiality of affected patents even after the conclusion of a licensing agreement. [346]

Similarly, the Court had no objections against a clause placing the burden of proof with regard to the exhaustion of licenced patents on Wiko. [347] 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. [348]

The question whether an adjustment clause is necessary for an offer to be considered FRAND was left unanswered by the Court. [349] 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. [349] The Court did not express any concerns against the term of the offered licence or the termination clauses contained therein, either. [350]

Furthermore, the Court made clear that Sisvel had adequately elaborated the licensing rates offered to Wiko. [351] In the infringement proceedings, Sisvel responded to the 'top-down' calculation of Wiko in detail and made relevant clarifications. [352] 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. [353]
 

Implementers' counteroffer

The Court also found that the counteroffers made by Wiko during the course of the first instance infringement proceedings were not FRAND. [354]

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. [355]

Having said that, the Court took the view that the royalty rates which Wiko offered were very low and, thus, not FRAND-compliant. [356] 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. [357] 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. [358] 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. [359]
 

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. [360] This is particularly true, when the SEP holder takes the respective initiative, as it was the case here. [360] 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. [360] The refusal of the infringer to act accordingly could, in the eyes of the Court, allow the conclusion that it is an unwilling licensee. [360]

Apart from that, the Court confirmed that Wiko had no legal ground for requesting full disclosure of Sisvel's third party agreements [361] . 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. [362] 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. [363]

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. [364]

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 [365] . [366] 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. [367]
 

  • [300] The action was extended to a third defendant, an individual person, who had served as a managing director for both aforementioned companies.
  • [301] Sisvel v Wiko, Higher Regional Court Karlsruhe, judgment dated 9 December 2020, Case-No. 6 U 103/19
  • [302] 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.
  • [303] Ibid, para. 289.
  • [304] Ibid, paras. 284 et seqq.
  • [305] Ibid, para. 287.
  • [306] 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.
  • [307] Ibid, paras. 292 et seqq.
  • [308] Ibid, para. 293.
  • [309] Ibid, para. 297.
  • [310] Ibid, paras. 297 et seq.
  • [311] Ibid, para. 299.
  • [312] Ibid, para. 299 and paras. 320 et seqq.
  • [313] Ibid, para. 301.
  • [314] Ibid, para. 302.
  • [315] Ibid, para. 303.
  • [316] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case-No. C-170/13.
  • [317] Sisvel v Wiko, Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe, judgment dated 9 December 2020, para. 304.
  • [318] Ibid, para. 304.
  • [319] Ibid, para. 305.
  • [320] Ibid, paras. 321 et seqq.
  • [321] Ibid, para. 321.
  • [322] Ibid, para. 322.
  • [323] Ibid, paras. 323 et seq.
  • [324] 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).
  • [325] Ibid, paras. 325, 328 and 331.
  • [326] Ibid, para. 327.
  • [327] Ibid, paras. 333 et seqq.
  • [328] Ibid, paras. 334 and 338.
  • [329] Ibid, paras. 337 and 341 et seqq.
  • [330] Ibid, para. 330.
  • [331] Ibid, para. 342.
  • [332] Ibid, para. 307.
  • [333] Ibid, para. 308.
  • [334] Ibid, paras. 308 and 310.
  • [335] Ibid, para. 309.
  • [336] Ibid, para. 310.
  • [337] Ibid, paras. 311 et seqq.
  • [338] Ibid, paras. 311 and 313 et seqq.
  • [339] Ibid, paras. 316 et seqq.
  • [340] Ibid, para. 352.
  • [341] Ibid, para. 353.
  • [342] Ibid, paras. 354 et seqq.
  • [343] Ibid, para. 358.
  • [344] Ibid, para. 359.
  • [345] Ibid, para. 360.
  • [346] Ibid, para. 361.
  • [347] Ibid, para. 362.
  • [348] Ibid, para. 363.
  • [349] Ibid, paras. 365 et seqq.
  • [350] Ibid, paras. 367 et seqq.
  • [351] Ibid, para. 366.
  • [352] Ibid, para. 344.
  • [353] Ibid, para. 346.
  • [354] Ibid, paras. 379 et seqq.
  • [355] Ibid, para. 311.
  • [356] Ibid, paras. 379 et seqq.
  • [357] Ibid, para. 380.
  • [358] Ibid, para. 378.
  • [359] Ibid, para. 384.
  • [360] Ibid, para. 348.
  • [361] Ibid, para. 389.
  • [362] Ibid, paras. 389 et seq.
  • [363] Ibid, para. 391.
  • [364] Ibid, paras. 260 et seqq.
  • [365] Nokia v Daimler, District Court of Düsseldorf, order dated 26 November 2020, Case No. 4c O 17/19.
  • [366] Sisvel v Wiko, Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe, judgment dated 9 December 2020, para. 395.
  • [367] Ibid, para. 395.

Updated 6 六月 2017

Archos v. Philips, Rechtbank Den Haag

荷兰法院判决
8 二月 2017 - Case No. C/09/505587 / HA ZA 16-206 (ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2017:1025)

  1. Facts
    Defendant (Koninklijke Philips N.V.) is the proprietor of a number of patents declared essential to ETSI’s UMTS (3G) and LTE (4G) standards. Defendant made FRAND commitments towards ETSI on 15 January 1998 and 26 November 2009. Claimant (Archos S.A.) markets mobile devices which are alleged to infringe upon Defendant’s patents.
    By letter of 5 June 2014, Defendant brought her UMTS and LTE patent portfolio and her licensing program to the attention of Claimant. In this letter, Defendant made clear that Claimant was infringing her patents by marketing products incorporating the UMTS and LTE standards and explained the possibility of obtaining a FRAND license. On 15 September 2014, a meeting took place to inform Claimant of Defendant’s patent portfolio and to discuss the licensing offer. In another meeting on 25 November 2014, Claimant suggested Defendant to grant her a royalty-free license to all of Defendant’s patents (i.e. not only to the UMTS/LTE patents but also to other patents related to so-called ‘Portable Features’) in exchange for the transfer of certain patents of Claimant to Defendant. Defendant informed Claimant by email of 23 December 2014 that it was not interested in Claimant’s patents because it considered them to represent ‘relatively low value’.
    By letter of 28 July 2015 Defendant sent Claimant an updated list of UMTS/LTE patents as well as a draft licensing agreement in which she confirmed her earlier licensing offer. The proposed royalty amounted to $ 0.75 per product containing UMTS and/or LTE functionality. For products already sold, a royalty of $ 1 would need to be paid. At a next meeting on 3 September 2015, it became clear that Claimant did not wish to obtain the license offered. On behalf of Claimant, it was made clear during the meeting that Defendant would have to take legal action if she wished to obtain a license fee. In October 2015, Defendant started proceedings before the Rechtbank Den Haag for infringement of her European Patents EP 1 440 525, EP 1 685 659 and EP 1 623 511.
    By letter of 12 January 2016, Claimant made a written counter offer of 0.071% of her net revenue from products incorporating the UMTS and/or LTE standards. For a net sale price per product of € 100, the offered royalty would amount to 7 eurocent per product.
  2. Court’s reasoning
    Claimant asked the court to declare that Defendant’s licensing offer of 28 July 2015 is not FRAND and to declare that a royalty fee of € 0.007 for every product sold by Claimant incorporating the UMTS standard and a royalty fee of € 0.020 for every product sold by Claimant incorporating the UMTS and LTE standards is FRAND. In addition, Claimant asked the court to rule that its own licensing offer of 12 January 2016 is higher than what a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory royalty fee would require.
    1. Market power and notice of infringement
      The court left open whether the SEPs conferred market power to Defendant since it did, in any case, find no abuse of such potential market power. The court argued that it is generally accepted and to be inferred from the system laid down in the Huawei/ZTE judgment that a FRAND license has a certain bandwidth. After all, the Huawei/ZTE judgment contemplates that the SEP holder makes a FRAND offer first and afterwards, if the SEP user does not agree with the offer, makes a counter offer which also has to be FRAND. During this negotiation process, the characteristics of the SEP user as well as its specific objections can be taken account in the license at the discretion of the parties. As such, the court noted that the fact that Defendant’s initial offer would turn out to be unreasonable for Claimant because she finds itself in the low budget segment of the market and her margins are small does not imply that the offer made by Defendant on 28 July 2015 is not FRAND.
      The court also made clear that until the Huawei/ZTE judgment the initiative to obtain a license was incumbent on the SEP user and not on the SEP holder in line with the common interpretation of the judgment of the Rechtbank Den Haag in Philips/SK Kassetten and the Orange Book ruling of the Bundesgerichtshof. In the view of the court the, on this crucial point, contrary Huawei/ZTE judgment that was delivered on 15 July 2015 constituted a new moment for negotiation between the parties. The court noted that, in line with the Huawei/ZTE judgment, Defendant took initiative with its licensing offer of 28 July 2015. Since Claimant made clear in the meeting on 3 September 2015 that Defendant would have to take legal action if she wished to obtain more than a few thousand euros in licensing fees, it seems unfitting that Archos reproaches Philips to have not been open to negotiation, or at least that position is insufficiently substantiated (par. 4.3).
    2. The SEP owner’s licensing offer
      Claimant put forward a number of arguments for its claim that Defendant’s offer of 28 July 2015 is not FRAND. All of these arguments were rejected by the court on the ground that Claimant had not sufficiently substantiated them. The main arguments raised are as follows.
      Claimant argued that Defendant’s rights regarding devices incorporating Qualcomm baseband chips had been exhausted due to the cross-license that Defendant had already concluded with Qualcomm for these chips. Since a number of Claimant’s products rely on Qualcomm baseband chips, the compensation that Defendant had already received from Qualcomm should, in the view of Claimant, at least have been taken into account in the license offer. The court noted that Claimant had not sufficiently contested that the Qualcomm license did not cover production and sales of mobile phones – as Defendant had made clear before the court – and that Claimant could have raised this point during the negotiations (par. 4.4).
      The court continued by stating that the fact that Defendant’s licensing offer covered both UMTS and LTE SEPS could not affect the FRAND-ness of the offer in the case at hand considering that Claimant’s products do not merely require a license under the LTE SEPs but also under the UMTS SEPs (par. 4.5).
      While the parties agreed that the Defendant’s share of the absolute number of SEPs in the UMTS-SEP portfolio is an important factor for assessing the FRAND-character of Defendant’s offer, they each reached different absolute numbers. The court concluded that the calculations in the consultancy reports on which Claimant relied do not lead to accurate results and are rather speculative in nature. As such, the Claimant downplayed the value of Defendant’s SEPs (par. 4.6-4.7).
      With regard to Claimant’s argument that Defendant’s proposed royalty rate would amount to impermissible royalty stacking, the court argued that this was insufficiently substantiated by Claimant (par. 4.8).
      Claimant also argued that the royalty rate should not be based on the total price of a phone but merely on the part in which the technology at issue is incorporated (the Smallest Saleable Patent-Practising Unit, SSPPU). In this context, the court noted that Defendant rightly pointed out that the requested royalty was set at a fixed amount as a result of which there is no relationship with the market value of the phone. Furthermore, since the SSPPU concept is at the very least subject to debate, the court noted that this issue could have been considered in the negotiations. That the royalty rate suggested by Defendant, which was not based on the SSPPU price, would not be FRAND for that mere reason could not be established by the court (par. 4.10).
      The court also dismissed Claimant’s reference to patent hold-up on the ground that a situation of hold-up can only occur in the case of a non-FRAND license which had not been established in the case at issue (par. 4.13).
      In the end, the court dismissed Claimant’s request to make a declaratory statement that Defendant’s offer of 28 July 2015 was not FRAND.
    3. The standard implementer’s reaction
      Considering that Claimant’s counter offer of 12 January 2016 is more than a factor 10 lower than the Defendant’s offer and is based on an inaccurate (at least insufficiently substantiated) share of Defendant’s SEPs in the relevant UMTS standard, the court refused to declare the counter offer to be FRAND, let alone to declare that this counter offer is higher than a FRAND royalty rate as requested by Claimant (par. 4.17-4.18).
  3. Other important issues
    AA defence that Defendant invoked was that Claimant had no interest (anymore) in the requested declaratory statements because its respective FRAND commitments were exhausted due to the unwilling attitude of Claimant. However, as Claimant’s requests for the declaratory statements were found not to be sufficiently substantiated, there was no need for the court to discuss this issue anymore (par. 4.18).

Updated 3 十二月 2018

District Court, LG Düsseldorf

LG Düsseldorf
11 七月 2018 - Case No. 4c O 81/17

A. Facts

The Claimant holds a patent essential to the data communication standards ADSL2+ and VDSL2 (Standard Essential Patent or SEP) [368] . The previous holder of the patent in question had declared towards the standardization organisation International Telecommunication Union (ITU) its willingness to make the patent accessible to users on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms and conditions [369] .

The Defendant offers communication services in Germany to retail and wholesale clients, including DSL connections using the standards ADSL2+ and VDSL2 [370] .

The Intervener supplies the Defendant with equipment (especially DSL transceivers and DSL Boards), allowing network services based on the above standards [370] .

In January 2016, the Claimant brought an action against the Defendant before the District Court (Landgericht) of Düsseldorf (Court) requesting for a declaratory judgement recognizing Defendant’s liability for damages arising from the infringement of its SEP as well as the provision of information and the rendering of accounts (liability proceedings) [371] . During the course of these proceedings, the Claimant made two offers for a licensing agreement to the Defendant. The Defendant made a counter-offer to the Claimant and provided security for the use of the SEP [372] . The parties failed to reach an agreement.

In June 2016, the Defendant filed an action for a declaratory judgement against the Claimant before the Dublin High Court in Ireland, requesting the High Court to declare that both Claimant’s offers were not FRAND and that Defendant’s counter-offer was FRAND [373] . Taking the ongoing liability proceedings in Germany into account, the Dublin High Court stayed its proceedings [373] .

In September 2017, the Claimant brought a second action against the Defendant before the District Court of Düsseldorf, requesting for injunctive relief (injunction proceedings) [374] . In February 2018, the Claimant made another licensing offer to the Defendant in the pending injunction proceedings [372] .

With the present judgment, the Court dismissed Claimant’s action in the injunction proceedings [375] .


B. Court’s reasoning

Although the Court held that the services offered by the Defendant infringe the SEP in suit [376] , it found that the Claimant cannot enforce its patent rights for the time being [377] , since it failed to fully comply with the obligations stipulated by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in the matter Huawei v ZTEHuaweiv ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13. (Huawei obligations or framework) with respect to dominant undertakings in terms of Article 102 of the Treaty for the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) [375] .

1. Dominant market position

The Court found that the Claimant holds a dominant market position in terms of Article 102 TFEU [379] .

In the Court’s eyes, the relevant market for assessing dominance with regards to SEPs is, as a rule, the (downstream) market for products or services implementing the standard, to which the SEP refers [380] . Each SEP outlines an own relevant (licensing) market, unless – from the SEP users’ perspective – equivalent alternative technologies for the same technical problem exist [381] . Since the Court held that, in the present case, none of the existing technological alternatives to the standards ADSL2+ and VDSL2 (e.g. HFC networks, LTE, HDSL, SHDSL, ADSL, SDSL, VDSL, fibre optic networks, radio relay technology or internet services via satellite) offers an equivalent solution to users [382] , it defined the relevant market as the market for products and services allowing for internet connections through DSL technology [383] .

Regarding to the subsequent question of whether the Claimant has a dominant position in the above market, the Court first made clear that ownership of a SEP does not per se establish such condition [384] . The fact that a patent is essential to a standard does neither give rise to the (rebuttable) presumption that the SEP holder can distort competition in downstream markets, because products complying with the standard need to use the SEP [384] . Since a high number of patents is usually declared as standard essential, not every SEP can actually (significantly) affect the competitiveness of products or services in downstream markets; the effect of each SEP on a downstream market has, therefore, to be established on a case-by-case basis by taking into account the circumstances of each individual case [384] .

The Court explained that a dominant market position is given, when the use of the SEP is required for entering the market, particularly for securing the general technical interoperability and compatibility of products or services under a standard [384] . The same is true, if the patent user could not market competitive products or services without a licence (for instance, because only a niche market exists for non-compliant products) [384] . No market dominance exists, however, when the SEP covers a technology which is only of little importance to the majority of the buyers in the relevant market [384] .

According to the Court, the latter was not the case here; on the contrary, the Defendant cannot offer competitive products or services in the market for DSL internet connections, without using the SEP in suit [385] .

2. Huawei framework

In the Court’s view, the parties to SEP licensing negotiations need to fulfill the mutual conduct obligations under the Huawei framework step by step and one after another [386] . The Court did not see any flaws in the parties’ conduct with respect to the first two steps of the Huawei framework (SEP holder’s notification of infringement and SEP user’s declaration of willingness to obtain a licence), held, however, that the Claimant did not meet its consequent obligation to make a FRAND licensing offer to the Defendant [387] .

Notification of infringement

The Court found that the Claimant had fulfilled its obligation to notify the Defendant about the infringing use of the SEP in suit prior to the commencement of the injunction proceedings [388] .

First, the Court pointed out that a respective notification (as well as a later licensing offer) can be made by the SEP holder itself, or by any other affiliated company within the same group of companies, especially by the patent holder’s parent company [389] . On the other hand, it is not required that the infringement notification is addressed to the company that will later be party to the infringement proceedings; in general, it is sufficient to address the notification to the parent company within a group of companies [389] .

In terms of content, the notification of infringement must name the patent in suit (including the patent number) and indicate the contested embodiments as well as the (allegedly) infringing acts of use [390] . A detailed (technical and/or legal) explanation of the infringement (particularly an analysis of how the individual features of the patent claims are infringed) is not required; the addressee needs just to be put in the position to assess the infringement allegations, if necessary by seeking expert advice [390] . In this context, the Court disagreed with the District Court of Mannheim which had requested the SEP holder to inform the user about the essentiality of the patent to the standard and/or attach claim charts to the notification of infringement [390] .

In terms of timeliness, the Court took the view that the notification of infringement can be made alongside with SEP holder’s offer for a FRAND licence to the user (prior to the initiation of court proceedings) [391] . In this case, the second step under the Huawei framework will be skipped (that is the SEP user’s declaration of its willingness to obtain a licence). According to the Court, this fact does not, however, have an impact on the SEP holder’s position: If the SEP user is willing to enter into a licence, this approach would safe time (although the SEP user should be granted more time than usual to assess and react to both the notification of infringement and the FRAND offer) [391] . If, on the other hand, the SEP user is unwilling to obtain a FRAND licence, then the SEP holder will just have made a licensing offer absent a respective obligation under the Huawei framework [391] .

In the present case, the fact that the Claimant did not make a separate notification of infringement prior to the initiation of the injunction proceedings, was not considered problematic. The Court pointed out that the Defendant was fully informed about the infringement allegation by the action for damages raised by the Claimant long before the injunction proceedings, so that a separate notification was not required [392] .

Willingness to obtain a FRAND licence

The Court further found that the Defendant had fulfilled its Huawei obligation to express its willingness to obtain a FRAND licence [393] .

In terms of content, no high demands should be placed on the SEP user’s respective declaration; it is not subject to formal requirements and can be of a general nature, as long as the willingness to obtain a licence is clearly stated [394] . Given the circumstances of the specific case, even an implicit behaviour can suffice [394] .

In terms of timeliness, the Court held that a strict deadline, within which the SEP user ought to make its declaration, cannot be set [395] . The respective time frame must be determined on a case-by-case basis under consideration of the circumstances of each case [395] . If the SEP holder’s notification of infringement contains only the minimum required information, a reaction within a period of five or even three months at the most could be expected [395] . In case that the infringement notification contains information going beyond the required minimum, an even quicker reaction could be required from the SEP user under certain circumstances [395] .

In the present case, the Court held that the Defendant has implicitly declared its willingness to enter into a FRAND licence with the Claimant at the latest at the point in time, in which the injunction proceedings were initiated [396] . At that time, the Defendant had already made a counter-offer for a FRAND licence to the Claimant and had also provided security for the use of Claimant’s patents [397] .

In this context, the Court noted that neither the fact that the Defendant contested Claimant’s claims in the parallel liability proceedings not the fact that it raised an action for declaratory judgement against the Claimant before the Dublin High Court can support the argument that the Defendant has deviated from its previous declaration of willingness [398] .

SEP holder’s licensing offer

The Court held that the offer which the Claimant made to the Defendant in course of the injunction proceedings was not FRAND [399] . Since the Claimant expressly relied only on this offer to establish its compliance with the Huawei framework, the Court did not assess the FRAND conformity of the two previous offers of the Claimant to the Defendant [372] .

In terms of timeliness, the Court stressed out that the SEP holder must make a FRAND licensing offer to the user before the initiation of infringement proceedings [400] . Under German procedural law, proceedings are initiated after the claimant has made the required advance payment on costs, even if the statement of claims has not been served to the defendant, yet [401] .

The Court did not rule out that SEP holder’s failure to fulfil its Huawei obligations prior to the commencement of infringement proceedings can be remedied during the course of the proceedings [402] . Depending on the circumstances of each case, the SEP holder should be given the opportunity – within the limits of procedural deadlines – to react to (justified) objections of the SEP user and eventually modify its offer [402] . Denying the SEP holder this opportunity without exceptions would be contrary to the principle of procedural economy; the patent holder would be forced to withdraw its pending action, make a modified licensing offer to the patent user and, subsequently, sue the latter again [402] . In this context, the Court explained that failure to meet the Huawei obligations does not permanently impair SEP holder’s rights [403] . Notwithstanding the above, the Court made, however, clear that the possibility of remedying a flawed licensing offer is subject to narrow limits; the CJEU intended to relieve licensing negotiations between SEP holder and SEP user from the burden imposed on parties by ongoing infringement proceedings, and particularly the potential undue pressure to enter into a licensing agreement which such proceedings can put on the SEP user [404] .

Against this background, the Court expressed doubts that the Claimant’s licensing offer, which was made in the course of the pending injunction proceedings could be considered as timely [374] . Nevertheless, the Court left this question open, because, in its eyes, the Claimant’s offer was not FRAND in terms of content [405] .

The Court did not deem necessary to decide whether the FRAND conformity of the SEP holder’s offer must be fully assessed in infringement proceedings, or whether only a summary assessment of its compatibility with FRAND suffices [406] . In the Court’s view, Claimant’s offer was anyway both not fair and discriminatory [407] .

Fair and reasonable terms

The Court held that the licensing terms offered by the Claimant to the Defendant were not fair and reasonable [408] .

First, the terms did not adequately consider the effects of patent exhaustion [409] . As a rule, FRAND requires licensing offers to contain respective provisions [410] . The clause contained in Claimant’s offer, establishing the possibility of a reduction of the royalties owed by the Defendant in case of the exhaustion of licensed patents, is not fair, because it puts the burden of proof regarding to the amount of the reasonable reduction of the royalties on the Defendant’s shoulders [411] .

Second, the clause, according to which Defendant’s payment obligations regarding to past uses of the SEP in suit should be finally settled without exceptions and/or the possibility to claim reimbursement, was also considered not fair [412] . The Defendant would be obliged to pay royalties for past uses, although it is not clear whether the Claimant is entitled to such payments [413] .

Third, the Court found that the exclusion of the Defendant’s wholesale business from Claimant’s licensing offer was also not fair [414] . According to the principle of contractual autonomy, patent holders are free to choose to which stage of the distribution chain they offer licences [415] . In the present case, however, excluding a significant part of the Defendant’s overall business, namely the wholesale business, from the licensing offer, hinders a fair market access [415] .

Non-discrimination

Besides from the above, the Court ruled that the Claimant’s offer was discriminatory [416] .

To begin with, the Court stressed out that FRAND refers to a range of acceptable royalty rates: As a rule, there is not only a single FRAND-compliant royalty rate [406] . Furthermore, as far as a corresponding commercial/industry practice exists, offers for worldwide portfolio licences are, in general, in line with the Huawei framework, unless the circumstances of the individual case require a different approach (for instance a limitation of the geographical scope of the licence, in case that the user is active only in a single market) [417] .

Furthermore, the Court explained that the non-discriminatory element of FRAND does not oblige the SEP holder to treat all users uniformly [418] . The respective obligation applies only to similarly situated users, whereas exceptions are allowed, provided that a different treatment is justified [418] . In any case, SEP holders are obliged to specify the royalty calculation in a manner that allows the user to assess whether the offered conditions are non-discriminatory or not. The respective information needs to be shared along with the licensing offer; only when the SEP user has obtained this information a licensing offer triggering an obligation of the latter to react is given [419] .

In the Court’s view, presenting all existing essential licensing agreements concluded with third parties, covering the SEPs in suit or a patent portfolio including said SEPs (comparable agreements), has priority over other means for fulfilling this obligation [420] . In addition, SEP holders have to produce also court decisions rendered on the FRAND-conformity of the rates agreed upon in the comparable agreements, if such decisions exist [421] .

Whether presenting comparable agreements (and relevant case law) suffices for establishing the non-discriminatory character of the offered royalty rates depends on the number and the scope of the available agreementsI [422] . In case that no or not enough comparable agreements exist, SEP holders must (additionally) present decisions referring to the validity and/or the infringement of the patents in question and agreements concluded between other parties in the same or a comparable technical field, which they are aware of [423] . If the SEP in suit is part of a patent portfolio, SEP holders must also substantiate the content of the portfolio and its impact on the offered royalty rates [424] .

Having said that, the Court pointed out that an unequal treatment resulting in a discrimination in antitrust terms is not only at hand, when a dominant patent holder grants preferential terms to specific licensees, but also when it chooses to enforce its exclusion rights under a SEP in a selective manner [425] . The latter is the case, when the SEP holder brings infringement actions only against certain competitors and, at the same time, allows other competitors to use its patent(s) without a licence [425] . However, such a conduct is discriminatory only if, depending on the overall circumstances of each case (for instance, the extend of the infringing use and the legal remedies available in the country, in which claims need to be asserted), it would have been possible for the SEP holder with reasonable efforts to enforce its patent rights against other infringers (which it was or should have been aware of) [425] . In favour of an equal treatment of competitors, the level of action which must be taken by the SEP holder in this respect should not be defined narrowly [425] . However, it has to be taken into account, that – especially in the early stages of the implementation of a standard – the SEP holder will usually not have the means required to enforce its rights against a large number of infringers; in this case, the choice to enforce its rights only against infringers with market strength first appears reasonable [426] .

Based on the above considerations, the Court ruled that the Claimant’s choice to sue only the Defendant and its two main competitors, without asserting the SEP in suit against the rest of their competitors, respectively against their suppliers, was discriminatory [427] . The Claimant should have already, at least, requested the companies, against which no action was filed, to obtain a licence, particularly since the remaining period of validity of the SEP in suit is limited [428] . Furthermore, the Court found that the Claimant’s refusal to make a licensing offer to the Intervener, although the latter had requested for a licence, was also discriminatory; in the Court’s view, the Claimant failed to provide an explanation justifying this choice [429] .

Since the Claimant’s offer was found to be non-compliant with FRAND, the Court refrained from ruling on the conformity of Defendant’s counter-offer and the security provided with the Huawei framework [430] .


C. Other issues

The Court ruled that in accordance with Article 30 para. 3 of the German Patent Law (PatG) the registration in the patent register establishes the presumption of ownership, allowing the entity which is registered as patent holder to assert the rights arising from the patent before court [431] .

  • [368] District Court of Düsseldorf, 11 July 2018, Case-No. 4c O 81/17Ibid, paras. 3 and 82.
  • [369] Ibid, para. 13.
  • [370] Ibid, para. 12.
  • [371] Ibid, paras. 14 and 211.
  • [372] Ibid, para. 15.
  • [373] Ibid, para. 16.
  • [374] Ibid, para. 236.
  • [375] Ibid, paras. 140 and 313 et seqq.
  • [376] Ibid, paras. 114 et seqq.
  • [377] Ibid, paras. 60 and 140.
  • [378] Huaweiv ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13.
  • [379] Ibid, para. 142.
  • [380] Ibid, para. 148.
  • [381] Ibid, paras. 153 and 146.
  • [382] Ibid, paras. 159 - 181.
  • [383] Ibid, para. 158.
  • [384] Ibid, para. 147.
  • [385] Ibid, paras. 183 et seqq.
  • [386] Ibid, para. 191.
  • [387] Ibid, para. 188.
  • [388] Ibid, paras. 195 et seqq.
  • [389] Ibid, para. 199.
  • [390] Ibid, para. 198.
  • [391] Ibid, para. 200.
  • [392] Ibid, para. 203.
  • [393] Ibid, para. 205.
  • [394] Ibid, para. 208.
  • [395] Ibid, para. 207.
  • [396] Ibid, para. 210.
  • [397] Ibid, para. 212.
  • [398] Ibid, paras. 215 et seq.
  • [399] Ibid, para. 220.
  • [400] Ibid, paras. 222 et seqq.
  • [401] Ibid, para. 225.
  • [402] Ibid, para. 233.
  • [403] Ibid, para. 228.
  • [404] Ibid, para. 230.
  • [405] Ibid, para. 237.
  • [406] Ibid. para. 241.
  • [407] Ibid, para. 242.
  • [408] Ibid, paras. 283 et seqq.
  • [409] Ibid, para. 285.
  • [410] Ibid, para. 288.
  • [411] Ibid, paras. 292 et seq.
  • [412] Ibid, paras. 298 et seqq.
  • [413] Ibid, para. 301.
  • [414] Ibid, para. 306.
  • [415] Ibid, para. 311.
  • [416] Ibid, para. 271.
  • [417] Ibid, para. 250.
  • [418] Ibid, para. 248.
  • [419] Ibid, para. 267.
  • [420] Ibid, paras. 256 and 259 et seq.
  • [421] Ibid, para. 262.
  • [422] bid, paras. 258 and 264.
  • [423] Ibid, paras. 263 and 265.
  • [424] Ibid, para. 265.
  • [425] Ibid, para. 273.
  • [426] Ibid, para. 274.
  • [427] Ibid, para. 276.
  • [428] Ibid, para. 277.
  • [429] Ibid, para. 281.
  • [430] Ibid, para. 315.
  • [431] Ibid, paras. 75 et seq.

Updated 1 十一月 2017

Unwired Planet v Huawei, [2017] EWHC 711 (Pat) 2

英国法院判决
4 五月 2017 - Case No. HP-2014-000005

  1. 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 [432] . Most were part of a large patent portfolio that the claimant had acquired from a major telecommunications company in 2013. [433] 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. [434]
    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. [435] 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. [436] Between August and October 2016 the parties exchanged further offers without reaching an agreement. [437]
    The Patents Court (Birrs J) held that the claimant was in a dominant position, but did not abuse this position. [438] 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. [439]
  2. Court’s reasoning
    1. Market power
      The court defined the relevant market for assessing dominance as a distinct market for licensing each SEP individually. [440] European case law indicated that owning an SEP could be a rebuttable presumption for the existence of a dominant position. [441] 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. [442]
    2. SEP Proprietor’s Licensing Offer
      1. 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. [443] 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, [444] 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. [445] 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. [445]
        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. [446] 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. [447] This approach also means that the SEP proprietor is under an obligation to make a FRAND offer and to enter into FRAND license agreements. [448]
      2. ‘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’). [449] This eliminates the so-called Vringo-problem, [450] 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. [451]
        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. [452] 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). [453] Since Art. 102 TFEU condemns excessive pricing, [454] 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. [454]
      3. 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. [455] 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. [456] 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. [457]
        Second, the ‘hard-edged’ non-discrimination obligation, which takes into account the nature of the potential licensee, [456] 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. [458] 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. [457]
      4. 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. [459] 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. [459] This was illustrated by the fact that the vast majority of licenses introduced in the trial were worldwide licenses. [460] 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. [461] 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. [462]
  3. Court’s reasoning
    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. [463] Other freely-negotiated license agreements might be used as comparables. [464] This may be compared with a top down approach [465] 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. [466] 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. [463] License agreements must meet certain criteria to be comparable. [467] 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. [467] 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%). [468]
    2. Principles derived from Huawei v. ZTE
      The court also provided a compiled overview of its interpretation of the Huawei v. ZTE ruling. [469] 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.
  • [432] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 2
  • [433] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 54 et seqq.
  • [434] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 3
  • [435] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 5
  • [436] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 7-8
  • [437] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 11-14
  • [438] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 807
  • [439] Unwired Planet v Huawei, EWHC 1304 (Pat)
  • [440] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 631
  • [441] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 634
  • [442] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 636-646
  • [443] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 656
  • [444] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), paras 108-145
  • [445] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 146
  • [446] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 162
  • [447] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 163
  • [448] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 159
  • [449] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 164
  • [450] See Vringo v ZTE [2013] EWHC 1591 (Pat) and [2015] EWHC 214 (Pat)
  • [451] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 158
  • [452] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 152
  • [453] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 154
  • [454] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 153
  • [455] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 176
  • [456] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 177
  • [457] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 503
  • [458] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 501
  • [459] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 544
  • [460] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 534
  • [461] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 546
  • [462] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 572
  • [463] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 171
  • [464] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 170
  • [465] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 178
  • [466] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 806 (10)
  • [467] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 175
  • [468] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), para 476
  • [469] Unwired Planet v. Huawei [2017] EWHC 711(Pat), 744

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 [470] 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 [471] 。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 [472]

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 [473] 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 [474] 。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 [475] 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 [476] ——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 [476] 。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 [476]

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 [477] 以及海牙上诉法院在飞利浦诉华硕案 [478] 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 [479] ,并且情况是否如此则需要视个案具体情况进行个别评估 [480]

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 [481] 。通知的详细程度适当与否则应根据具体个案情况判定 [481] 。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 [481] 。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 [481] 。。

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 [482]

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 [483] 。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 [484] 。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 [483] ,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 [477]

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 [485] 。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 [486] 。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 [487]

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 [488] 。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 [488] 。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 [488]

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 [489] 。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 [489]

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 [490]

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” [490]

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 [490] 。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 [490] 。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) [490] 。。

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 [487]

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” [487] 。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 [487]

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 [487]

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 [491] 。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 [491] 。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 [492]

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 [493] 。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 [493]

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 [494] 。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 [495] 。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 [495]

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 [492] 。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 [492] 。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 [492] 。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 [492] 。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 [492] 。。

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 [496] 。 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) [492] 。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 [476] 。。

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 [472] 。在法院看来,Wiko采用了拖延战术 [472] 。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 [496] 。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 [496]

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 [497]

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 [497]

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 [498] 。 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 [498]

  • [470] Sisvel v Wiko, District Court of Mannheim, 4 September 2019, Case-No. 7 O 115/16。
  • [471] 同上注, 页 17-31。
  • [472] 同上注, 页 46。
  • [473] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case-No. C-170/13。
  • [474] Sisvel v Wiko, District Court of Mannheim, 4 September 2019, Case-No. 7 O 115/16, 页 42。
  • [475] 同上注, 页 43 及 页 51 及以下。
  • [476] 同上注, 页 42。
  • [477] Unwired Planet v Huawei, Court of Appeal of England and Wales, judgment dated 23 October 2018, [2018] EWCA Civ 2344, 段 282。
  • [478] Philips v Asus, Court of Appeal of The Hague, 7 May 2019, Case-No. 200.221 .250/01。
  • [479] Sisvel v Wiko, District Court of Mannheim, 4 September 2019, Case-No. 7 O 115/16, 页 44。
  • [480] 同上注, 页 44。
  • [481] 同上注, 页 37。
  • [482] 同上注, 页47 及 53。
  • [483] 同上注, 页 38。
  • [484] 同上注, 页 37 及以下。
  • [485] Sisvel v Wiko, District Court of Mannheim, 4 September 2019, Case-No. 7 O 115/16, 页 39。
  • [486] 同上注, 页 39。
  • [487] 同上注, 页 40。
  • [488] 同上注, 页 53。
  • [489] 同上注, 页 54。
  • [490] 同上注, 页 55。
  • [491] 同上注, 页 40 及页 49。
  • [492] 同上注, 页 41。
  • [493] 同上注, 页 49。
  • [494] 同上注, 页 50。
  • [495] 同上注, 页 51。
  • [496] 同上注, 页 47。
  • [497] 同上注, 页 35。
  • [498] 同上注, 页 35 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 [499] (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 [500] 。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 [501] 。 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”) [502]

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 [503]

 

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 [504] 。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 [504]

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 [505] 。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 [506] 。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 [506] 。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 [507]

 

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 [508] 。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 [509] [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 [508] 。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 [508] 。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) [508] 。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 [510]

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 [511] 。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 [512]

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) [513] 。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 [513]

 

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 [514]

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) [515] 。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 [516] 。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 [515]

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 [515] 。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 [515]

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 [517] 。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 [518]

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 [519] 。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 [520]

 

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 [521]

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 [522] 。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 [522]

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 [523] 。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“ [523] 。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 [524] 。法院指出,有数种手段可以确保这种情况不会发生 [524]

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 [524] 。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 [524] 。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 [524]

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 [525] 。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 [525]

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 [526] 。 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 [527] 。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 [528] 。连网功能确保了创造此一价值的机会 [529] 。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 [530]

 

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 [531]

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 [532] 。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 [532] 。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” [532]

《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 [533]

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 [534] 。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 [535] 。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 [536] 。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 [537]

 

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 [538]

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 [539] 。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 [539] 。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 [539]

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 [540] 。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 [541] 。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 [541]

 

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 [542]

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 [543] 。而在当前诉讼中情况并非如此 [544]

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 [545] 。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 [545]
 

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 [546] 。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 [547]
 

  • [499] Nokia v Daimler, District Court of Mannheim, judgment dated 18 August 2020, Case-No. 2 O 34/19。
  • [500] 同上注, 段 49-136。
  • [501] 同上注, 段 138。
  • [502] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13。
  • [503] Nokia v Daimler, District Court of Mannheim, judgment dated 18 August 2020, Case-No. 2 O 34/19, 段 144。
  • [504] 同上注, 段 146。
  • [505] 同上注, 段 147。
  • [506] 同上注, 段 148。
  • [507] 同上注, 段 149。
  • [508] 同上注, 段 152。
  • [509] 同上注, 段 151-156。
  • [510] 同上注, 段 248。
  • [511] 同上注, 段 153 及以下。
  • [512] 同上注, 段 154。
  • [513] 同上注, 段 155。
  • [514] 同上注, 段 157-231。
  • [515] 同上注, 段 158。
  • [516] 同上注, 段 159。
  • [517] 同上注, 段 161。
  • [518] 同上注, 段 197-199。
  • [519] 同上注, 段 157, 160 及 162-164。
  • [520] 同上注, 段 160 及 165-168。
  • [521] 同上注, 段 169。
  • [522] 同上注, 段 170。
  • [523] 同上注, 段 171。
  • [524] 同上注, 段 172。
  • [525] 同上注, 段 173。
  • [526] 同上注, 段 174 及以下。
  • [527] 同上注, 段 174。
  • [528] 同上注, 段 177。
  • [529] 同上注, 段 180。
  • [530] 同上注, 段 187 及以下。
  • [531] 同上注, 段 201-212。
  • [532] 同上注, 段 202。
  • [533] 同上注, 段 203。
  • [534] 同上注, 段 205。
  • [535] 同上注, 段 210。
  • [536] 同上注, 段 213。
  • [537] 同上注, 段 215。
  • [538] 同上注, 段 216 及以下。
  • [539] 同上注, 段 217。
  • [540] 同上注, 段 218。
  • [541] 同上注, 段 230。
  • [542] 同上注, 段 232 及以下。
  • [543] 同上注, 段 234, 236 及以下。
  • [544] 同上注, 段 240 及以下。
  • [545] 同上注, 段 239。
  • [546] 同上注, 段 253 及 291。
  • [547] 同上注, 段 291。

Updated 6 六月 2017

OLG Düsseldorf 2

OLG Düsseldorf
14 十二月 2016 - Case No. I-2 U 31/16

  1. Facts
    The Claimant is holder of a patent declared as essential to a standard (Standard Essential Patent, SEP). The Defendant is a telecommunications company, which inter alia sells mobile phones allegedly using Claimant’s SEPs. Upon Claimant’s action, the Regional Court of Düsseldorf (1) ordered the Defendant to render accounts regarding the sales of mobile phones embedding Claimant’s SEPs and (2) recognized Defendant’s obligation to pay damages to the Claimant resulting from the infringement of its SEPs (cf. Regional Court of Düsseldorf, decision dated 19th January 2016, Case No. 4b O 49/14). The Defendant appealed this judgement. In the appeal proceedings before the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf (Case No. 2 U 31/16), one issue in dispute was whether the license fees, which the Claimant had calculated, were Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND). The Claimant explained its calculation in a statement to the court that was produced in two versions. In the first version, which was filed only with the court, the information regarding the FRAND calculation (including comparable license agreements pre¬sented as evidence), were fully disclosed. In the second version, which was presented to the Defendant and a third party that had joined the proceedings (Intervener), the respective sections (and evidence) were redacted.
    With the present interlocutory application, the Claimant requested the court to order that disclosure of full information (and evidence) regarding its FRAND calculation shall be required only towards Defendant’s and Intervenor’s counsels, provided that the court would oblige the counsels to full confi-dentiality towards everyone, including their clients themselves (that is the Defendant and the Intervener). The Defendant objected this request. The Intervener, on the other hand, stated that it agreed with the proceeding defined in Claimant’s request.
    In its first decision dated 14th December 2016, the court rejected the application with respect to both the Defendant and the Intervener. Instead, the court encouraged the parties to enter into a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) reinforced by a contractual penalty, in case confidentiality was breached.
    This decision was consequently modified by a further decision rendered by the court on 17th January 2017. The court granted Claimant’s application in respect to the Intervener, but again rejected the application in respect to the Defendant. The court, however, requested from the Defendant to present an offer for an NDA to the Claimant incorporating particularly the following conditions within a deadline of three weeks:
    • The confidential information should be used only in the context of the present litigation.
    • The information would be made available only to four company representatives of the Defendant (as well as any experts engaged by the Defendant in the ongoing litigation).
    • These persons shall be themselves obliged to confidentiality by the Defendant.
    • In case confidentiality was breached, the Defendant shall be liable for payment of a contractual pen-alty amounting to EUR 1 million.




  2. Court’s Reasoning
    In its first decision, the court found that the German rules of Civil Procedure do not provide a legal basis for granting an order in the form requested by the Claimant. [548] Such an order would exclude Defendant’s right to be heard with respect to Claimant’s FRAND calculation, in breach of Art. 103 Sec. 1 of the German Constitutional Law (Grundgesetz). [548] The fact that Defendant’s counsels would have access to the relevant information, does not suffice to meet the requirements set forth by the aforementioned provision. Party’s right to be heard contains also the right to personally participate in the proceedings. Consequently, a limitation of a party’s right to be heard reaching so far as Claimant requested, is not possible, unless the party affected expressly waives its right to personally participate in the proceedings. [548] Since the Defendant decided to not do so, a respective order cannot be rendered against it.
    The fact that the Intervener waived its respective right, can also not justify rendering such an order against the Defendant. [549] The Intervener does not join the proceedings as a party, but merely in support of one of the parties. [550] Accordingly, it cannot make decisions that would affect the party’s standing, such as a declaration to waive the right to be heard. In the present case, the Intervener’s decision to waive its respective right may, therefore, impact its own standing in the proceedings, but cannot affect Defendant’s position.

    As a result, the Claimant can either make the confidential information available to the Defendant or keep this information redacted, accepting that the court cannot take redacted information into consideration for its decision. [551]

    Notwithstanding the above, under reference to the “Umweltengel für Tragetaschen” judgement of the German Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) [552] the court held, that, as a rule, it can be expected from the implementer of SEPs to enter into a NDA reinforced by a contractual penalty with the SEP holder. [553] SEP implementer is obliged to facilitate FRAND licensing negotiations to the best of its ability. This includes also taking justified confidentiality interests of the SEP holder into account. [553]

    In its second decision dated 17th January 2017 the court applied the above considerations. Since the Intervener waived its right to be heard, the court found that there is no reason to deny Claimant’s request in relation to the Intervener. On the other hand, due to Defendant’s denial to waive its respective right, the court still refrained for granting Claimant’s request against the Defendant. Taking Claimant’s confi¬dentiality interests into account, the court ordered, however, the Defendant to submit an offer for a NDA to the Claimant based particularly on the conditions mentioned above.
  • [548] Judgement dated 14th December 2016, para. 1
  • [549] Judgement dated 14th December 2016, para. 2
  • [550] Judgement dated 14th December 2016, para. 2
  • [551] Judgement dated 14th December 2016, para. 3
  • [552] Bundesgerichtshof, Decision dated 19th February 2014, Case No. I ZR 230/12
  • [553] Judgement dated 14th December 2016, para. 5