Huawei対ZTE事件CJEU判決後の判例法
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判例をフィルタリングするためのキーワード
支配的地位の濫用 調整条項 Alternative Dispute Resolution 外国訴訟差止命令に対する差止命令 外国訴訟差止命令 反トラスト Arbitration クレームチャート 既判力 同等の契約 秘密保持 コストベースのロイヤルティ計算 国毎のライセンシング を訴えないという誓約 クロスライセンス 損害賠償金 不可欠性 ETSI宣言 消尽 フォーラム・コンビニエンス Forum Hunting FRAND behaviour FRAND commitment FRAND宣言 FRAND defence FRAND決定 FRAND範囲 FRAND料率(計算) 係争中の手続におけるファーウェイの義務の履行 Global Licences Good faith ホールドアウト ホールドアップ ファーウェイフレームワーク Huawei obligations 実施者のカウンターオファー 申出に対する実施者の反応 差止命令 Injunctions Jurisdiction FRAND紛争の管轄権 License to all v Access to all 秘密保持契約 非差別性 Non-practising entity 非移行型および移行型の判例 権利侵害通知 SEP保有者及び被疑侵害者の義務(ファーウェイの義務) Over-declaration Patent ambush 特許の消尽 Patent infringement パテントプール 特許の有効性 ポートフォリオ・ライセンシング 予備的差止命令 均衡性 担保差出し 製品リコール 認められた商慣習 関連市場 係争中の手続におけるHuawei義務の救済手段 計算書の提出 ロイヤリティの計算 Royalty determination ロイヤリティスタッキング SEP所有者の申出 SSPPU 技術的およびFRAND関連のトライアル トップダウン方式 SEPの移転 真のFRANDレート 有効性 ボリュームディスカウント 意思 ライセンスを取得する意欲 ワールドワイド(ポートフォリオ)ライセンス

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Preliminary remarks

The following summaries relate to court decisions rendered after the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU or ECJ) handed down its ruling in case C170/13 Huawei v ZTE on 16 July 2015.

The summaries focus on the core issue raised by the Huawei decision, namely the conditions under which a standard essential patent holder may seek injunctive relief for infringement of his patents or where a standard implementer can raise a competition law-based defense to an action brought by a SEP holder. Occasionally, related and additional aspects of a decision are included into the summary because of their importance for understanding the context of FRAND licensing. In general, though, non-Huawei-related issues are omitted, such as, for instance, general procedural or patent law aspects (venue, patent description, validity, infringement, etc.).

However, it is likely that some pre-Huawei decisions will continue to be of relevance, inter alia where national courts deem the Huawei-rules inapplicable. [1]

With regard to the jurisdictions covered, the primary goal is to map the German situation but, depending on their accessibility, some decisions from other EU Member States are included, too.

  • [1] Possible examples are the decisions LG Düsseldorf, judgment of 22 January 2014 - Case No. 4a O 127/14; LG Mannheim, judgment of 10 March 2015 - Case No. 2 O 103/14; LG Düsseldorf, judgment of 26 March 2015 - Case No. 4b O 140/13; OLG Karlsruhe, judgment of 23 April 2015 - Case No. 6 U 44/15; LG Düsseldorf, judgment of 11 June 2015 - Case No. 4a O 44/14; LG Düsseldorf, judgment of 11 June 2015 - Case No. 4a O 45/14.

CJEUの決定


Huawei 対 ZTE

16 7月 2015 - Case No. C-170/13

A. 内容

原告Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.は、欧州電気通信標準化機構(ETSI)が開発したLTEE無線通信規格(標準必須特許又はSEP)のプラクティスに関して必須のものとして宣言済みの特許を保有している [1] 。2009年3月、原告は、当該特許を実施者が公平、合理的かつ非差別的(Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory:FRAND)条件で利用できるようにすることをETSIに誓約した [2]

被告ZTE Corp.及びZTE Deutschland GmbHは、LTE規格にかかわる複数のSEPを保有しており [3] 、とりわけ、ドイツにおいては、LTE準拠製品の上市も行っている [4]

2010年11月から2011年3月の間、両当事者は、原告のSEPポートフォリオのライセンス許諾に関し協議していた [4] 。原告が合理的なロイヤルティとみなした金額を示したのに対し、被告は、クロスライセンス契約の締結を求めた [5] 。しかしながら、ライセンス契約の申出は決着しなかった [5]

2011年4月、原告は、被告を相手取り、差止命令、それまでの使用にかかわる計算書の提出、製品のリコール及び特許侵害にかかわる損害賠償を求めて、デュッセルドルフ地方裁判所(地方裁判所)に訴訟を提起した [6] [6]。

地方裁判所は、訴訟手続を停止し、EU機能条約(TFEU)第267条に基づく先決裁定を得るため欧州司法裁判所(CJEU)に付託した。簡潔に言えば、地方裁判所は、SEP保有者がSEP実施者に対する禁止的差止命令を求めて訴訟を提起することが支配的地位の濫用でありTFEU第102条に反するとの問題に関し、ドイツ連邦裁判所と欧州委員会が相反する立場を取っていると見られる点に着目した [7] 。オレンジブック判決において、ドイツ連邦裁判所は、SEPにかかわる権利侵害訴訟において、被告は、ライセンス契約締結にかかわる無条件かつ公正な申出を特許保有者に提示しており、過去の使用行為にかかわる計算書を提出しており、かつ、それにより生じるロイヤルティにつき保証金を支払っている限り、TFEU第102条に基づき防御する(それにより差止命令を回避する)権利を有すると判示した [8] 。これに対し、欧州委員会は、複数のEU加盟国においてサムスンがAppleを相手取り権利行使に関連して提起した訴訟において、特許保有者のFRAND誓約に従いFRAND条件でのライセンス契約について協議する意思を被告が実証している限り、SEPに関し差止命令による救済手段を求める訴訟が原則としてTFEU第102条違反になるとの見解を示した [9]

現在の判決をもって、CJEUは、SEP保有者がTFEU第102条違反を生じることなく特許実施者に対し禁止的差止命令を求める訴訟を申し立てることのできる条件を確立した。とりわけ、CJEUは、SEP保有者がFRAND条件にて特許を実施できるようにする取消不能の引受けを行った場合、訴訟提起前に次の各条件を充足している限り、差止命令又は侵害製品のリコールを求めることにより支配的地位を濫用したことにならないと裁定した。

  • まず実施者に対し、「当該特許を指し示し、何が侵害にあたるのかを明示することにより」特許侵害を通知している。
  • 次に、申立てを受けた侵害者がFRAND条件でライセンス契約を締結する意思をあらわした場合、「当該条件でのライセンス申出について、とりわけ、そのロイヤルティ及び計算方法を明示した上で、当該侵害者に書面で明確に提示している」 [10]

これに対しSEP実施者は、特許保有者が禁止的差止命令又は製品リコールを求めた訴訟について、SEP保有者の申出に遅滞なく回答した場合に限り、当該訴訟の不適切性を訴えることができる [11] 。実施者は、当該申出を拒絶した場合、次の行為をしなければならない。

  • 「FRAND条件に対応する明示的なカウンターオファーを、速やかに、かつ、書面にて」特許保有者に送付し [12] 、かつ、
  • カウンターオファーが拒絶された場合、「銀行保証又は必要な預り金等を差し出す等して」、特許の実施に必要な担保を差し出す [13]

CJEUは、過去の使用行為に関しSEP保有者によりなされる損害賠償請求又は計算書提出の請求に上記の枠組みを適用しないことを明確にした。このような請求にかかわる行為は、標準的な準拠製品の上市又は市販継続が可能かどうかを左右するものでないため、TFEU第102条の侵害にあたらない [14]

B. 判決理由

CJEUは、SEP保有者の基本的な知的財産権(IPR)を司法により有効に保護することと、自由で歪みのない競争における公益との均衡を保つ必要性を強調した [15]

両当事者は、原告の市場における支配的地位の有無については争っていなかったため、裁判所の分析ではTFEU第102条に定める「濫用」の有無に焦点が当てられた [16] 。CJEUによれば、IPRの行使が支配的地位を保有する引受行為であるとしても、「元来」濫用になりえない [17] 。さらには、IPRの行使行為が支配的地位の濫用を構成するのは、「例外的な状況」に限られる [18]

SEPが関係する事例については、他のIPR関連事例と区別する。第一に、特許がSEPにあたる場合、その特許保有者は、「競合会社の製品の上市又は市販継続を妨げ、これにより、問題の製品の製造を留保できる」ことになる [19] 。これに加え、FRAND誓約により、特許保有者は、当該規格を実装する第三者に対しFRAND条件でSEPを利用できるとの「正当な期待」をもたらしている[19]。「正当な期待」がもたらされたことにより、権利侵害を訴えられた特許実施者は、SEP保有者がFRAND条件でのライセンス許諾を拒絶していた場合、原則として、TFEU第102条に依拠して防御することができる [20]

SEP保有者が法的手続を頼ってIPRの保護を求める権利を剥奪されることはないが、CJEUは、FRANDの引受けが、差止命令による救済手段を求めるに際し特定要件を遵守する義務をSEP保有者に負わせる根拠となると判示した [21] 。特に、TFEU第102条違反を回避するには、SEP保有者は、次の条件を満たさなければならない。すなわち、(a) 禁止的差止命令を求める訴訟を提起する前に、「当該特許を指し示し、何が侵害にあたるのかを明示することにより」侵害について実施者に通知しなければならず [22] 、かつ、(b) 実施者が当該ライセンス契約を締結する意思を表明している場合、FRAND条件でのライセンス申出について、「そのロイヤルティ及び計算方法」を明示した上で、当該実施者に書面で明確に提示しなければならない [23] 。この状況において、CJEUは、SEP保有者がそのような申出をするよう期待されうると認めた。これは、原則として、一般向けの規格ライセンス契約は存在せず、また、SEP保有者が第三者と締結した既存契約の条件は公開されていないことから、被疑侵害者に比べ非差別的な条件に従った申出であるかどうか確認する方が有効であるためである [24]

その一方で、(被疑)侵害者は、SEP保有者の申出に対し、注意を払った上で「業界で認められた商慣習に従い、誠実に」対応しなければならない[11]。応じるかどうかは、とりわけ「引き延ばし戦略」が黙示されない「客観的要素」に基づき確証しなければならない。 侵害者は、条件案において特許保有者のFRAND誓約がなされていないとしてSEP保有者のライセンス申出を拒絶することとした場合は、SEP保有者にFRAND条件に基づき書面による明示的なカウンターオファーをSEP保有者に送付しなければならない[12]。当該カウンターオファーが拒絶された場合において、(被疑)侵害者がライセンスを取得せずに当該SEPを既に使用しているときは、当該(被疑)侵害者は、業界で認められた商慣習に従い、銀行保証又は必要な預り金等を差し出す等して、適切な担保を差し出す義務を負う [13] 。担保の算定においては、とりわけ、「過去のSEP使用件数」を含めなければならず、被疑侵害者は、当該使用行為にかかわる計算書を提出できるよう用意しなければならない [13] 。(被疑)侵害者によるカウンターオファーにもかかわらず合意に至らなかった時点で、CJEUは、両当事者が「共通合意」により、「独立の第三者の遅滞なき決定により」ロイヤルティを決定するよう要請するオプションを有することを指し示した [25]

最後に、CJEUは、(被疑)侵害者がライセンス契約の協議と並行してSEP保有者の特許の有効性若しくは必須性又はこれを実際に使用することにつき異議を申し立てるか、将来これを行う権利を留保することができることを明確にした [26]

 

  • [1] Huawei対ZTE、欧州司法裁判所2015年7月6日判決、第22節。
  • [2] 同判決、第22節。
  • [3] 同判決、第40節。
  • [4] 同判決、第24節。
  • [5] 同判決、第25節。
  • [6] 同判決、第27節。
  • [7] 同判決、第29節以下。
  • [8] 同判決、第30節以下。
  • [9] 同判決、第34節以下。
  • [10] 同判決、第77節。
  • [11] 同判決、第65節。
  • [12] 同判決、第66節。
  • [13] 同判決、第67節。
  • [14] 同判決、第72節以下。
  • [15] 同判決、第42節。
  • [16] 同判決、第43節。
  • [17] 同判決、第46節。
  • [18] 同判決、第47節。
  • [19] 同判決、第53節。
  • [20] 同判決、第53節以下。
  • [21] 同判決、第58節以下。
  • [22] 同判決、第61節。
  • [23] 同判決、第63節。
  • [24] 同判決、第64節。
  • [25] 同判決、第68節。
  • [26] 同判決、第69節。

ドイツ裁判所の決定


Cases from Federal Court of Justice - BGH -


Sisvel 対 Haier、ドイツ連邦最高裁判所(Bundesgerichtshof)

5 5月 2020 - Case No. KZR 36/17

A. 事実

原告であるSisvelは、各種無線通信規格の実施において必須な(と見込まれる)ものとして宣言された特許(標準必須特許、又はSEP)を保有する。

被告は、中国に本社を置くHaier groupのドイツ及びフランスの子会社である(Haier)。Haierグループは、とりわけ、GPRS規格に適合した電子機器の製造及びマーケティングを行なっている。

2012年12月20日、Sisvelは、Haier groupの親会社(Haier China)に対し、SisvelのSEPの使用侵害について通知した。Sisvelは、そのポートフォリオに包含されたおよそ450件の特許の一覧を提示すると共に、自社のSEPについてライセンスの申出を行う旨をHaierに知らせた。

2013年4月10日、Sisvelは、公平、合理的、かつ非差別的(FRAND)な条件にて規格ユーザにSEPの利用を認めることを欧州電気通信標準化機構(「ETSI」)に確約した。

2013年8月及び11月に、Sisvelは、Haier Chinaに対し、自社のライセンスプログラムに関する情報を記した追加の書簡を送付した。Haier Chinaは、2013年12月のみ、Sisvelに対して回答し、Sisvelと「正式な交渉(formal negotiation)」を行うことを望んでいる旨を明示すると共に、これまでのやりとりでSisvelが提示した割引の可能性に関する情報の提供を求めた。

2014年8月、Sisvelは、Haierに対してライセンスの申出を行ったが、この申出は、2014年9月に拒絶された。その直後、Sisvelは、Haierに対し、GPRS規格に従い、データ送信技術を対象としたSEPに基づき、デュッセルドルフの地方裁判所(本地方裁判所)に権利侵害訴訟を申し立てた(係争特許)。これに対応して、Haierは、2015年3月に、係争特許の無効の訴えを求め、ドイツ連邦特許裁判所に訴訟を提起した。

2015年11月3日に、本地方裁判所は、Haierに対して差止命令を出した [1] 。本地方裁判所はまた、侵害製品のリコール及び破棄を命じた。さらに本地方裁判所は、実体的事項に関するHaierの損害賠償責任を認めると共に、Haierに対して、Sisvelに対する侵害製品の販売にかかわる完全かつ詳細な会計書類の提示を命じた。

Haierは、この決定を上訴すると共に、本地方裁判所により下された差止命令の執行の停止を命じるよう、デュッセルドルフ高等裁判所(Higher District Court of Duesseldorf)(本上訴裁判所)に要請した。2016年1月、本控訴裁判所は、それぞれの命令を言い渡した [2]

上訴手続きにおいて、Haierは、とりわけ、Sisvelが侵害訴訟を提起した後の、Huawei対ZTE事件の2015年7月に下された判決(Huawei判決)において欧州司法裁判所(CJEU)がSEP保有者に課した行動要件について、本地方裁判所が、これを適切に考慮しなかった旨を主張した [3] 。 本控訴裁判所での手続き中、2016年1月16日に、Haierはさらに、ドイツの裁判所が係争特許の有効性及び侵害性を最終的に認めた場合のみ、SisvelからFRANDライセンスを受けるつもりであることを宣言した。2016年3月23日に、Haierは、Sisvelに別の書簡を送り、状況が何も変わっていないことを示した。さらに、Haierは、Sisvelの全ての特許に関するクレームチャート及びロイヤルティの算定についての追加の情報を要請した。2016年12月、Sisvelは、Haierに対して新たなライセンスの申出を行ったが、この申出はまた拒絶された。

2017年3月30日付の判決により、本控訴裁判所は、Haierの上訴を部分的に認めた [4] 。本控訴裁判所は、実体的事項に関するHaierの損害賠償責任及び会計書類の提示義務を確認した。しかしながら、本上訴裁判所は、Haierが侵害製品のリコール及び破棄についていかなる義務も負うものではないと判断した。Sisvelが、特にHaierに対してFRANDライセンスの申出を行わなかったことにより、Huawei判決に基づく自らの義務を遵守しなかったからである。本上訴裁判所は、両当事者が本件については和解することに合意したため、差止命令による救済の請求について決定を下す必要はなかった。係争特許が2016年9月に満了となるからである。Sisvelは、本控訴裁判所の決定に対して不服申し立てを行った。

2017年10月、係争特許の特定のクレームの範囲を狭め、別途その有効性を確認した [5] 。2020年3月に、ドイツ連邦最高裁判所(FCJ又は本裁判所)は、第二審として本決定を概ね容認した [6]

2020年5月5日付のこの判決により  [7] (引用元 https://juris.bundesgerichtshof.de/cgi-bin/rechtsprechung/document.py?Gericht=bgh&Art=en&sid=3abd1ba29fc1a5b129c0360985553448&nr=107755&pos=0&anz=1)、FCJは、本控訴裁判所の判決を破棄した。第一審における本地方裁判所の裁定は、Sisvelの損害賠償請求及び情報及び会計書類の提示請求に関して維持された。Sisvelによる侵害製品のリコール及び破棄についての請求は、Haierが所有している製品又は係争特許が2016年9月に満了となるまでに製造され、もしくは引き渡された製品に制限された。Sisvelによる差止命令による救済の請求は、これが係争特許が失効した後に本控訴裁判所における従前の手続き中に撤回されたため、本裁判所の裁定の対象とはならなかった。


B. 判決理由 本裁判所は、係争特許がGPRS規格に必須であり、侵害を受けているとの判決を下した [8]

さらに、本裁判所は、Haierに対する侵害訴訟を開始することにより、SisvelがEU機能条約(TFEU)第102条を違反して支配的市場地位を濫用していなかったと判決を下した [9]

本裁判所の見地からは、Sisvelは、侵害訴訟を提起する前に、自らのSEPの侵害使用についてHaierに通知を交付する、Huawei判決に基づく自らの義務を履行している。一方、Haierは、Sisvelとライセンス契約を締結するという自らの誠実意思を適切に示す、自らのHuawei義務を履行しなかった。この事実は、もはや本件において決め手となるものではないが、本裁判所は、SisvelがそれぞれのHuawei要件に従ってHaierにFRANDライセンスの申出を行ったとの見解を示した。

支配的市場地位

本裁判所は、SisvelがTFEU第102条の意味の範囲内で支配的市場地位にあるとの判決を下した  [10]

FCJは、支配的市場地位が、特許により付与される独占的な権利のみによって生じるものではないと説明した [11] 。従って、いくつかの要因を考慮する必要がある [12] 。1つ目の重要な要因は関連市場である。特許が、標準化団体によって策定された基準(又はデファクトスタンダード(事実上の標準))に適合する上で技術的に必須であって、かつ、下流市場で付された製品について、当該基準に代わる技術的な手段が利用できない場合、支配性の評価に適すのは、当該特許のライセンスが提供される(個々の)市場である [13]  。

これに基づき、本裁判所は、Sisvelが支配的市場地位にあると判示した:係争特許は、GPRS規格の実施に必須であること、また、GPRS規格に適合したいかなる携帯電話も、従前の規格の世代も今後の規格の世代も同一の機能を備えることが認められていないため、(下流)市場において競業するものではないこと [14]

この状況において、FCJは、規格実施者が、商品及びサービスの市場の買主と比較して、交渉において有利な立場を得る場合が多いという事実により、SEP保有者の市場支配が制限されるというSisvelの意見を認めなかった [15] 。本裁判所は、商品やサービスの買主とは異なり、規格実施者が、特許保有者との合意を締結していなくとも、規格に準拠した製品を製造するために必要な保護された技術にアクセスできるという有利な立場にいると判断した  [16] 。しかしながら、本裁判所によると、この事実は、市場支配を除外するには十分ではない。ライセンスの交渉において個々の実施者に対するSEP保有者の交渉力の度合いは関係ない [17] 。 支配的市場地位は、独占的権利を行使して市場から実施者を排除する法的能力から生じる、特許保有者の優越した構造的な市場支配力によりもたらされる [18]

同様に、本裁判所は、SEPの行使に関するHuawei判決により課せられた制限が、市場支配(的地位)を損なうものではないことを指摘した [19] 。 本裁判所は、対等な立場で交渉を行うための手段をSEP保有者が最大限に利用できないため、これらの制限がSEP保有者の交渉上の立場を著しく弱めていると指摘した [19] 。 それにも関わらず、実施者が、特許が満了となるまで交渉を遅延することにより「ホールドアウト」行為を行うような場合でさえ、これは、特許保有者の支配的地位を問題として取り上げるには十分ではない  [19]

それでもやはり、本裁判所は、係争特許が満了したので、Sisvelの支配的市場地位が終結したことを指摘した  [20]

侵害製品を(下流)市場参入から排除する法的権利がこれ以上付与されなくなる場合、SEP保有者はもはや支配力を有しない  [20]

市場支配的地位の濫用

両当事者の行為を検討し、本裁判所は、本控訴裁判所とは異なり、Sisvelがその市場支配的地位を濫用していないと判断した  [21]  。

本裁判所は、SEP保有者が、本質的には自らの特許から生じる独占的な権利を行使することを妨げられていないことを明言した  [22] 。特許が標準必須特許であるという事実は、その特許保有者が、支配的な市場地位を有することにより、その技術の使用を許可しているか、許可するよう義務付けられていない限り、かかる使用を容認しなければならないということを意味するものではない。 [22] 。しかしながら、FCJによると、SEPの使用を許可しなければならないという義務は、実施者がFRAND条件にてライセンスを取得するつもりのない場合には存在しない。特許保有者は、とりわけライセンス契約の締結を要請する法的権利を有しないため、支配的な市場地位を有するとしても、標準必須特許の使用者に対してライセンスを「課す」義務はない。 [23]  。

こうした背景のもと、本裁判所は、SEP保有者による独占的な権利の主張(差止命令による救済並びに/又は侵害製品のリコール及び破棄の請求)が市場独占性の濫用に相当し得るという、2つの事案を特定した。

  1. 特許保有者がその支配的な市場地位を濫用したり、非差別性に関わる義務を違反することなく、かかる特許保有者によって拒絶され得ない条件にて、実施者が無条件のライセンスの申出を行なった場合(本裁判所が2009年5月6日付の「オレンジブックスタンダート事件」判決(事件番号 KZR 39/06)における従前の裁定を反芻した限りにおいて) [24]  。
  2. 実施者が、基本的に、ライセンスを取得するつもりであるが、SEP保有者がその支配的市場地位に付される「固有の責任」に従ってライセンス契約の締結を円滑に進める「十分な努力」を尽くしていない場合 [25]

権利侵害通知

結果的に、本裁判所は、SEP保有者が、侵害請求訴訟を提起する前に係争特許の侵害使用について実施者に対して通知義務を負うという見解を示した [26] 。実施者が未だ侵害を認識していない場合に限り当該義務が発生するとFCJが示唆したと思われる  [27]  。

本裁判所は、基本的には、技術実施者が、製品の製造や販売を担う前に第三者の権利が侵害されていないことを確認しなければならない旨を説示した [28]  。しかしながら、この責務は、とりわけ情報通信技術(ICT)分野においてはかなり困難なことである。ICT分野の製品は、多数の特許権の影響を受ける可能性がある  [28]  。特許保有者は、通常はすでに侵害について調査しているが、実施者がFRAND条件にてライセンスを取得する必要があるか否かを検討し、それにより差止命令を回避できるよう、裁判手続きの開始前に実施者に対して特許の使用についての情報を提供しなければならない。 [29]  。

本裁判所によると、それぞれの侵害通知は、通常、グループ会社の親会社宛に送付されることで十分とする  [30] [309] 。内容について言えば、通知には、侵害対象となった特許を明記すると共に、特定の侵害使用及び非難の対象たる実施形態について説明しなければならない [31]  。侵害の技術的かつ法的分析についての詳細は必要ない。従って、実施者は、最終的には専門家や弁護士の助言に従い、侵害の申立について専ら評価しなければならない [31]  。概して、実際にはクレームチャートを提示することで十分な場合多い(強制ではない)  [31]  。

さらに、侵害された特許及び影響を受けた規格に関する情報を提供した特許保有者は、実施者が受け取った情報が侵害を評価するには十分ではないと直ちに示すことを予測していることを、FCJは付言した [32] 。これは、多くの特許及び規格が関わる場合にも当てはまる [32]

上記の事項を考慮し、本裁判所は、Sisvelが所定の適切な侵害通知をHaierに交付したと判断した。2012年12月20日付の書簡及びその後のやりとりは、該当する要件を満たすものであった  [33]  。

誠実意思

その一方、Haierの行為を勘案し、本裁判所は、HaierがSisvelからFRAND条件によるライセンスを取得する意思のあるライセンシーとして行為しなかったと判断した [34] 。この点において、FCJは、逆の結論に至った本控訴裁判所によるそれぞれの評価に異議を示した。

本裁判所は、Haierがほぼ1年にわたって(2012年12月から2013年12月まで)、対応することをとどまっていたため、Sisvelからの通知に対するHaier Chinaの当初の回答が遅かったことに注視した [35] 。侵害通知に回答するのに数ヶ月を要する実施者というのは、通常は、ライセンスを取得することに関心のないこと示す  [35]  。Sisvelが、2012年12月のHaierに対する最初の通知の送付後になって、Sisvelが係争特許を対象としてETSIに対してFRAND確約を行なったという事実は、適時性を評価する上でいかなる意味もなさない。2012年12月20日付の書簡において、Sisvelはすでに、Haierに対してFRANDライセンスを申し出るつもりであることを宣言している [35] 。侵害訴訟手続きの開始前に行われた遅延された回答が(2013年12月からのHaierの回答と同様に)、それでもやはり、当事者らによるHuawei判決(本上訴裁判所が行なった通り)の遵守を評価する際に考慮されるか否かについての疑義は、FCJによって判断されなかった  [36]  。本件では、この疑義は関連性がない。というのは、内容の点から言えば、Haierによるいかなる回答にも、ライセンスを取得する意思が十分に示されていないからである  [37]  。

本裁判所の見地から、実施者は、「どのような条件が実際にFRANDにあたるのかにかかわらず」SEP保有者とのライセンス契約を締結する意思について、「明確に」かつ「疑義の生じないよう」宣言しなければならない(Unwired Planet 対 Huawei(英国及びウェールズ高等法院、2017年4月5日付、事件番号[2017] EWHC 711(Pat)の判決を引用)  [38]  。実施者は、その後、「目的志向」の態度にてライセンス供与の協議に参加する義務がある [317] 。むしろ、権利侵害の通知に対して、ライセンス契約締結を検討する意思を示したり、ライセンス取得の是非及びその条件についての協議に入る意思を示したりするだけでは不十分である  [38]  。

これに基づき、本裁判所は、Haierの2014年12月の回答が、「正式な交渉」を行うという見込みのみが示されているだけであって、誠実意思を宣言するには不十分であると判断した。この宣言は、上記の「明確なもの」でも「疑義の生じないもの」でもなかった  [39]

同様に、2016年1月16日付のHaierの書簡には、Haierがドイツの裁判所による係争特許の有効性及び侵害についての従前の確認を条件としてライセンス契約を締結したため、誠実意思についての十分な宣言が記載されていなかった [40]  。実施者は、原則として、ライセンス契約の締結後にはライセンス対象特許の有効性に異議を申し立てる権利を留保することができるが、本裁判所は、それぞれの条件下での誠実意思の宣言を行うことはできないと判断した [40]  。

さらに、FCJは、Haierが2016年3月23日付の書面により自らの誠実意思を十分に明示してはいなかったと判断した。Haierが上記の許容できない条件を撤回しなかったという事実とは別に、本裁判所は、侵害通知の受領後およそ3年間に渡って、全てのSisvelの特許に関するクレームチャートの作成を要請することは、Haierが係争特許が満了となるまで交渉を遅延させることにしか関心がないことを示すものであるとの見解を示した  [41]  。

Haierが誠実意思を適切に宣言しなかったため、本裁判所は、侵害手続きが開始された後に、実施者がこの義務を履行することが可能であるか否かについて回答しなかった  [42]  。

 

  • [1] Sisvel 対 Haier、デュッセルドルフ地方裁判所、2015年11月3日付判決、事件番号No. 4a O 93/14。
  • [2] Sisvel 対 Haier、 デュッセルドルフ高等裁判所、2016年1月13日付判決、事件番号No. I-15 U 66/15。
  • [3] Huawei対ZTE、欧州司法裁判所、2015年7月16日付判決、事件番号No. C-170/13。
  • [4] Sisvel v Haier、デュッセルドルフ高等裁判所、2017年3月30日付判決、事件番号No. I-15 U 66/15。
  • [5] 連邦特許裁判所、2017年10月6日付判決、事件番号No. 6 Ni 10/15 (EP)。
  • [6] 連邦裁判所、2020年3月10日付判決、事件番号No. X ZR 44/18。
  • [7] Sisvel 対Haier、連邦裁判所、2020年5月5日付判決、事件番号KZR 36/17。
  • [8] 同判決、第9節以下、及び第59節。
  • [9] 同判決、第52節。
  • [10] 同判決、第54節。
  • [11] 同判決、第56節。
  • [12] 同判決、第 57節以下。
  • [13] 同判決、第58節。
  • [14] 同判決、第59節以下。
  • [15] 同判決、第61節。
  • [16] 同判決、第63節。
  • [17] 同判決、第62節。
  • [18] 同判決、第61節以下。FCJによると、それぞれの法的障害により、会社が市場に参入することが不合理なものとなっている事実により、事前にライセンスを得ていなくとも、市場参入の障壁はすでに構築されている。第63項を参照。
  • [19] 同判決、第64節。
  • [20] 同判決、第65節。
  • [21] 同判決、第67節以下。
  • [22] 同判決、第69節。
  • [23] 同判決、第70節。
  • [24] 同判決、第71節。
  • [25] 同判決、第72節。
  • [26] 同判決、第73節以下。
  • [27] 同判決、第73節以下。 本裁判所によると、特許保有者は、規格の使用者に対し、当該使用者が規格を実施することによりその特許の内容が許可なく使用されることになるという「事実を認識していない」場合には、特許の侵害について通知しなければならない。
  • [28] 同判決、第74節。
  • [29] 同判決、第74節及び第85節。
  • [30] 同判決、第89節。
  • [31] 同判決、第85節。
  • [32] 同判決、第87節。
  • [33] 同判決、第86 節以下。
  • [34] 同判決、第91節以下。
  • [35] 同判決、第92節。
  • [36] 同判決、第93節以下。
  • [37] 同判決、第94節。
  • [38] 同判決、第83節。
  • [39] 同判決、第95節。
  • [40] 同判決、第96節。
  • [41] 同判決、第98節。
  • [42] 同判決、第97節。


Sisvel対Haier

24 11月 2020 - Case No. KZR 35/17

A. 事実

原告であるSisvelは、各種無線通信規格の実施において必須な(と見込まれる)ものとして宣言された特許(標準必須特許、又はSEP)を保有する。Sisvelは、公平、合理的、かつ非差別的(FRAND)な条件にてユーザにSEPの利用を認めることを欧州電気通信標準化機構(「ETSI」)に誓約した。

被告は、中国に本社を置くHaier groupの欧州における2つの子会社である(「Haier」)。Haierグループは、とりわけ、GPRS規格とUMTS規格を含む各種規格に適合した携帯電話とタブレットの製造及びマーケティングを行なっている。

2012年12月20日、Sisvelは、Haier groupの親会社(Haier China)に対し、自社のSEPについてライセンスの申出を行う旨を知らせ、自社のポートフォリオに包含されたおよそ235件の特許の一覧を提示した。2013年8月及び11月に、Sisvelは、Haier Chinaに対し、自社のライセンスプログラムに関する情報を記した追加の書簡を送付した。

Haier Chinaは、2013年12月のみ、Sisvelに対して回答し、Sisvelと「正式な交渉(formal negotiation)」を行うことを「望んで」いる旨を明示すると共に、これまでのやりとりでSisvelが提示した割引の可能性に関する情報の提供を求めた。

2014年8月、SisvelはHaierに対してグローバルポートフォリオ・ライセンスの申出を行ったが、この申出は拒絶された。

その直後、Sisvelは、Haierに対し、デュッセルドルフの地方裁判所(本地方裁判所)に権利侵害訴訟を申し立てた。訴訟のうち一件はUMTS規格に対応する特許に関するものである(係争特許)。その他の訴訟はGPRS規格への対応に関するものである。Haierは双方の特許に対して無効を求め、ドイツ連邦特許裁判所に訴訟を提起した。

権利侵害訴訟の係争中、HaierはSisvelに対し数件のカウンターオファーを申し出た。これらのカウンターオファーは裁判所でHaierに対し申し立てられた特許(特許ファミリー)のみに関するものであったため、対象が限られていた。

2015年11月3日に、本地方裁判所は、両案件ともSisvelに有利な判決を下した [1] 。本地方裁判所はまた、Haierに対して差止命令を出し、侵害製品のリコール及び破棄を命じた。さらに本地方裁判所は、本案に関するHaierの損害賠償責任を認めると共に、Haierに対して、Sisvelに対する侵害製品の販売にかかわる完全かつ詳細な会計書類の提示を命じた。Haierは、この2つの決定について上訴した。

上訴手続において、Haierは、とりわけ、デュッセルドルフ高等裁判所(Higher District Court of Duesseldorf)(本控訴裁判所)に対し、Sisvelが侵害訴訟を提起した後の、Huawei対ZTE事件で下された判決 [2] (Huawei判決)において欧州司法裁判所(CJEU)がSEP保有者に課した行動要件について、本地方裁判所がこれを適切に考慮しなかった旨を主張した。

本控訴裁判所での手続き中、2016年1月16日に、Haierはさらに、ドイツの裁判所が係争特許の有効性及び侵害性を最終的に認めた場合のみ、SisvelからFRANDライセンスを受けるつもりであることを宣言した。Haierはまた、Sisvelのポートフォリオに含まれる全ての特許に関するクレームチャートも要請した。

2016年12月、SisvelはHaierに対して新たなライセンスの申出を行ったが、この申出はまた拒絶された。

上訴手続における口頭弁論終了の数週間前となる2017年1月20日、HaierはSisvelにさらなるカウンターオファーを行った。提案されたライセンスは、ドイツで訴えられたHaierグループの子会社2社のみを対象とするものであったが、合意には至らなかった。

2017年3月30日付の2件の判決により、本控訴裁判所は、並行訴訟についてHaierの上訴を部分的に認めた [3] 。差止命令による救済、並びに侵害製品のリコール及び破棄の請求は棄却された。Sisvelが、特にHaierに対してFRANDライセンスの申出を行わなかったことにより、Huawei判決に基づく自らの義務を遵守しなかったというのが理由である。

Sisvelは、本控訴裁判所の決定に対して不服申し立てを行った。

2020年4月、ドイツ連邦最高裁判所(FCJ又は本裁判所)は、係争特許の有効性に対するHaierの異議を最終的に棄却した [4]

2020年5月5日、FCJは、GPRS規格に対応する特許に関し当事者間で係属中の並行訴訟について判決を下した [5] 。本裁判所はSisvelを支持する判決を下し、本控訴裁判所の判決を破棄した。本判決 [6] で本裁判所は、係争特許に関する事件でも本控訴裁判所の判決を破棄している。
 

B. 判決理由

本裁判所は、係争特許がUMTS規格に必須であり、侵害を受けているとの判決を下した [7]

FCJは、本控訴裁判所のこれまでの見解とは異なり、SisvelがHaierに対する侵害訴訟を開始することによりEU機能条約(TFEU)第102条に違反して市場での支配的な地位を濫用したとは言えないと判断した [8]
 

市場での支配的な地位

本裁判所は、SisvelがTFEU第102条の意味の範囲内で市場での支配的な地位にあるとの判決を下した [9]

FCJは、特許が標準化団体によって策定された標準(又はデファクトスタンダード(事実上の標準))に適合する上で技術的に必須であって、かつ、下流市場で付された製品について、当該標準に代わる技術的な手段が利用できない場合、市場での支配的な地位が構成されると説明した [10] 。代替的な(技術的)選択肢が存在する場合でも、特許の教示を用いない製品が(下流)市場で競争力を持たない限り、市場支配が生じる可能性がある [10] 。FCJによれば、このことは、係争特許に関しても当てはまる。
 

市場での支配的な地位の濫用

しかしながら本裁判所は、SisvelがHaierに対する侵害訴訟を開始することにより市場での支配的な地位を濫用したとは言えないと判断した [11] 。支配的地位の濫用は、SEP保有者について以下のいずれかが当てはまるときに発生しうる。
 

  • ライセンス契約を締結する意思のある実施者に対して、FRAND条件でのライセンス許諾を拒否し、差止命令による救済(並びに/又は侵害製品のリコール及び破棄)を主張して裁判を起こす。
  • 基本的にライセンスを取得する意思のある実施者に対して、SEP保有者がその市場での支配的な地位に付される「固有の責任」に従ってライセンス契約の締結を円滑に進める「十分な努力」を尽くしていない [12]

本裁判所は、上記双方のシナリオにおいて、 「意思」を有する実施者に対する訴訟の提起は、FRAND条件の下で特許の教示を使用することについてSEP保有者から契約上許可されることを実施者が請求する場合のみ濫用となるとの見解を示した [13] 。一方、交渉開始時に特許保有者が提示した申出によって、実施者の行為が不当に妨げられたり差別されたりする場合でも、契約上合意されていれば、それだけでは濫用が成立しないのが通例である [13] 。SEP保有者が実施者とのライセンス交渉における最終段階でもそのような条件を主張した場合、濫用とみなされる可能性がある [13]
 

権利侵害通知

本裁判所は、市場支配的特許保有者の「固有の責任」は、規格への適合に際し当該特許が使用されていることを実施者が認識していない(可能性がある)場合に、訴訟を提起する前に当該特許の侵害について実施者に通知する義務を構成すると説明した [14]

本事件において、本裁判所は、Sisvelが2012年12月20日付の書簡及びその後のやりとりによって所定の適切な侵害通知をHaierに交付したと判断した [15]
 

意思

その一方、本裁判所は、HaierがSisvelからFRAND条件によるライセンスを取得する意思のあるライセンシーとして行為しなかったと判断した [16] 。この点において、FCJは、逆の結論に至った本控訴裁判所による評価に異議を示した。

本裁判所の見地から、実施者は、FRAND条件によりSEP保有者とのライセンス契約を締結する意思について、「明確に」かつ「疑義の生じないよう」宣言し、以後、「目標志向で」交渉を行わなければならない [17] 。それに対し、実施者は、権利侵害の通知に対して、ライセンス契約締結を検討する意思を示したり、ライセンス取得の是非及びその条件についての協議に入る意思を示したりするだけでは不十分である [17]

本裁判所は、実施者が、それぞれの契約的基盤を作ることにより、将来にわたって特許の無許可使用を正当化する意思があることが、SEP保有者に実施者とのFRAND条件に基づくライセンス交渉義務を負わせる前提条件であるとの理由を述べた [18] 。さらに、利害の対立する当事者間でバランスをとる適切な解決策は、原則として利害に基づく交渉によってもたらされることから、(双方の)意思が不可欠である [19] 。FRAND条件での合意に向けた交渉に当事者が貢献しなかったという事実は、通常の場合、当該当事者の不利益とみなされる [20] 。実施者が侵害通知の受領後、長期間にわたりFRANDライセンスの取得に関心を示さなかった場合、当該遅延にかかわらず可能な限り早急にライセンスを締結できるような「追加的努力」を講じなければならない [21]

本裁判所は特に、SEP保有者が法廷で特許を主張する権利が制限されていることにより直面する「構造的不利」 を利用することによって、実施者が「特許のホールドアウト」を行うべきではないと強調した。 [22] さもなければ、適時にライセンスを取得した実施者と比較して、侵害者が不当な利益を得ることになり、競争が歪められる可能性がある [22]

FCJは、FRANDライセンス取得に関し意思表示をするという実施者の義務に関する要件の上記解釈はHuawei判決に沿ったものであり、Haierが要請するような各問題をCJEUに新たに付託する必要はない、という見解を示した [23] 。Huawei判決は、市場での支配的な地位の濫用に当たるという認定を排除するためには確立された義務を遵守することで通常は十分である、という意味において、反トラスト上の責任に対する「セーフハーバー」を創出した [24] 。しかし、特別な状況下では、より厳格な/緩やかな当事者の行為義務が正当化される場合もある。 [24]

本裁判所は、Huawei判決が、実施者は交渉の全過程においてライセンスを取得する意思を持ち続けるべきだ、という見解を支持しているとの所見を述べた [24] 。「継続的な」意思は、交渉を成功させるための、あるいは交渉が失敗した場合にSEP保有者側の市場での支配的な地位の濫用が認定されるための「不可欠な条件」である [25] 。客観的に見て実施者にFRANDライセンスを取得する意思と能力がない場合、SEP保有者が当該ライセンスの供与を拒否することは、確かに、反トラストの観点からは何の関連性もないと考えられる [26]

従って、FCJは、SEP保有者がライセンス供与を申し出た場合にも、意思表示は(この場合でも)行われなければならないと説明した [27] 。この点で、本裁判所は、Nokia対Daimler事件における、FRANDに関連する特定の問題のCJEUへの最近の付託に関するデュッセルドルフ地方裁判所の(FCJとは異なる)見解に同意していない [28] 。FCJによれば、SEP保有者の申出は交渉の「出発点」に過ぎず、FRANDには「幅」が存在するため、双方の利益を考慮した公正かつ合理的な結果を得ることが交渉の目的となる [29] 。従って、実施者はSEP保有者が申し出た条件がFRANDに適合するか否かを検討する義務がある [30] 。もし申し出が「明らかに」FRANDでない場合は、実施者がその理由を説明すれば十分である [30]

この意味で、本裁判所は、実施者がSEP保有者のライセンス申出を調査する義務は、オファーが内容的にあらゆる点でFRANDに適合しているか否かに関係なく存在することを明確にした [31] 。もしSEP 保有者に「完全に」FRANDに適合する申出を直ちに行うよう要求する場合、ライセンス交渉の必要性は失われると考えられる [32] 。また、各当事者が関連すると考える側面を参照することなく、曖昧なまま申出のFRAND適合性を評価することは不可能である [33] 。本裁判所は、非FRANDのライセンス供与は、それ自体が市場での支配的な地位の濫用には当たらないことを改めて指摘した [34]

とはいえ、FCJは、実施者の意思を評価する際はその行動全体(SEP保有者のライセンス供与の申し出に対する反応を含む)が考慮されなければならないと指摘している [35] 。その結果、時間の経過とともに意思は変化する場合があり、SEP保有者が提起した訴訟も、実施者がFRANDライセンスを適切に要請すれば、後の時点で濫用となる可能性がある [36] 。しかし、実施者によるそのような要請の主張が遅くなればなるほど、意思あるライセンシーとみなすための閾値は高くなる [37] 。本裁判所は、上記の解釈はHuawei判決に沿ったものであるため、Haierが要請したCJEUへの追加付託は必要ないことを再度指摘した [35]

このような背景から、本裁判所は、Sisvelの侵害通知を受けてからHaier Chinaによる最初の回答まで約1年かかっているということは、遅きに失したものであるとの所見を述べた [38] 。実施者が侵害通知に対する回答に数か月を要する場合、通常、ライセンスの取得に関心がないことを示す [38] 。それに加えて、FCJは、2013年12月のHaierの回答には「正式な交渉」を行うという「希望」のみが述べられており、内容的に十分な意思表示とは言えないと判断した [39] 。Haierは、侵害通知に対する反応において遅きに失したため、意思を示すための「追加的努力」を講じるべきであったが、そうしなかった [40]

同様に、Haierの2016年1月16日付の書簡にも、十分な意思表明が記載されていなかった。Haierがドイツの裁判所による係争特許の有効性と侵害の事前確認をライセンス締結の条件としていたためである [41] 。実施者は、原則として、契約締結後もライセンス供与対象特許の有効性を争う権利の保持が認められているが、本裁判所は、本件で実施者の意思表示を認めることはできないとしている [42] 。それに加えて、Haierが侵害通知を受領して約3年後にSisvelのポートフォリオにおける全ての特許のクレームチャート提出を要請したことは、Haierが係争特許の期限が切れるまで交渉を遅らせることにのみ関心があったことを示す、と本裁判所は述べている。 [43]

さらに、FCJは、FRANDライセンス締結に対するHaierの意思は、侵害手続き中に行われたカウンターオファーにも見出すことができないと判断した [44] 。これらのカウンターオファーが、その対象範囲において、Sisvelが法廷で主張した特許にのみ限定されていたという事実は、世界的なポートフォリオライセンスに対するSisvelの要請に対しHaierが真剣に対応していなかったことを示している [45] 。Sisvelのポートフォリオを検討する時間が十分すぎるほどあったことを考えると、Haierには、このような「選択的ライセンス供与」の実質的な根拠を示すことが期待された [45]

さらに、本裁判所は、Haierが控訴審終了直前に行った2017年1月20日付のカウンターオファーも十分な意思表示ではないと判断した [46] 。本裁判所は、当該ライセンスがドイツで訴えられたHaierグループの2つの関係会社のみに適用されるという事実に特に注目した [47] 。FCJによれば、Haierは、そのような「選択的ライセンス」に関して「正当な利益」を有していなかった。それどころか、限定的なライセンスは、Haierグループの別会社による侵害に対して十分な保護を提供するものではなく、結果としてSisvelに、自社のSEPに関して「特許ごと、国ごと」に費用のかかる主張を強いるものとなったとした。 [48]

さらに、本裁判所は提案されたロイヤルティの構造も批判した [49] 。Haierは、自社が「おそらく」不可欠とみなすライセンスに含まれるべきSEPのごく一部(4つの特許ファミリー)のみをロイヤリティを計算の基礎としていた [50] 。本裁判所は批判の理由について、ライセンスの範囲は交渉によって明確にされる必要があるが、ICT分野では関連する特許の数が多いため、必須性と有効性の双方に関する推定に依拠することが一般的であり、この推定によって「然るべく残存する不確実性」を適切に考慮することができ、また取引費用が不釣り合いに高くなることの回避に役立つと述べている [51]

それとは別に、カウンターオファーが控訴審の「最終段階」で行われたという事実は、Haierが実際にはFRANDライセンスの締結を目指していたのではなく、むしろ係争中の訴訟に関する戦術面での考えが動機であったとの結論に至ることを可能にした [52]
 

SEP保有者によるライセンスの申出

本裁判所は、HaierがFRANDライセンスを取得する意思を十分に示していなかったと判断し、本件においてSisvelのHaierに対するライセンス供与申出のFRAND適合性を検討しなかった [53] 。FCJによれば、実施者がFRANDライセンスに署名する意思を十分に表明していない場合、適合性は関係ないとのことである [54]

本裁判所は、侵害について実施者に通知する義務は別として、SEP 保有者の義務(FRAND ライセンス供与の申出を行う義務を含む)は、実施者が FRAND 条件でライセンスを取得する 意思を示した場合にのみ生じることを強調した [55] 。特許保有者が該当する標準化団体にFRANDを確約した場合でも、特許使用者が原則として権利保有者からのライセンス供与を求める義務を負うという事実は変更されるものではない [55]
 

C. その他の重要事項

特許の待ち伏せ

本裁判所は、「特許の待ち伏せ(patent ambush)」の主張に基づくHaierの抗弁を棄却した [56] 。Haierは、Sisvelが当該特許を取得した最初の特許権者がUMTS規格の開発中にETSIに対し特許を適切に開示しなかったことから、係争特許は強制不能であると主張していた。

本裁判所は、上記の意味での「特許の待ち伏せ」が本事件で実際に発生したか否かについては検討しなかった [57] 。FCJは、実施者が「特許の待ち伏せ」を主張できるのは、規格の開発プロセスに実際に参加した特許保有者を相手方とする場合に限られ、逆に、その後継者(ここではSisvel)に対してそのような抗弁はできないとの見解を示した [57]

上記にかかわらず、本裁判所は、「特許の待ち伏せ」は、情報が開示されないことにより該当する標準化団体における意思決定プロセスが歪められた場合に認められると指摘した [58] 。本件において、実施者は、関連する特許出願を考慮した情報が事前に開示されていたならば規格が異なる形をとっていたことを示すなんらかのものを少なくとも立証しなければならない [59] 。しかしながら、Haierはそれを行っていない [59]
 

損害賠償金

最後に、本裁判所は、Sisvelの損害賠償請求は本案に関するものであると判断した。Haierの損害賠償責任を確立する過失が認められた。実施者は、原則として、製品の製造や販売を始める前に第三者の権利を侵害していないことを確認する義務を負うが、Haierはこれを怠っていた [60]

さらに、Sisvelの損害賠償請求は、FRAND実施料(「ライセンスの類推」)に限定されたものではなかった [61] 。SEP保有者は、実施者が独自の反訴を主張することができ、SEP保有者がその市場での支配的な地位から生じる義務を履行していた場合に自らが置かれていたはずの地位を要求しない限り、完全な損害賠償を受ける権利を有する [60] 。しかしながら、実施者は、ライセンスを締結する意思を十分に表明している場合にのみそのような(反対)請求をする権利を有するが、本件ではそのような表明はなかった [60]
 

  • [1] Sisvel 対 Haier、デュッセルドルフ地方裁判所、2015年11月3日付判決、事件番号: 4a O 144/14 (UMTS関連特許)及び事件番号: 4a O 93/14 (GPRS関連特許)。
  • [2] Huawei対ZTE、欧州司法裁判所、2015年7月16日付判決、事件番号: C-170/13。
  • [3] Sisvel 対 Haier、デュッセルドルフ高等裁判所、2017年3月30日付判決、事件番号: I-15 U 66/15 (UMTS関連特許)及び事件番号: I-15 U 66/15 (GPRS関連特許)。
  • [4] 連邦裁判所、2020年4月28日、事件番号: X ZR 35/18。
  • [5] Sisvel 対Haier、連邦裁判所、2020年5月5日付判決、事件番号: KZR 36/17。
  • [6] Sisvel 対Haier、連邦裁判所、2020年11月24日付判決、事件番号: KZR 35/17 (juris.bundesgerichtshof.deにより引用)。
  • [7] 同判決、第10-43節。
  • [8] 同判決、第44節。
  • [9] 同判決、第48節以下。
  • [10] 同判決、第49節。
  • [11] 同判決、第52節。
  • [12] 同判決、第53節。
  • [13] 同判決、第54節。
  • [14] 同判決、第55節。
  • [15] 同判決、第84節。
  • [16] 同判決、第86節以下。
  • [17] 同判決、第57節。
  • [18] 同判決、第58節。
  • [19] 同判決、第59節。
  • [20] 同判決、第60節。
  • [21] 同判決、第62節。
  • [22] 同判決、第61節。
  • [23] 同判決、第63節。
  • [24] 同判決、第65節。
  • [25] 同判決、第68節。
  • [26] 同判決、第66節及び第68節。
  • [27] 同判決、第69節。
  • [28] 同判決、第69節。Nokia 対 Daimler, デュッセルドルフ地方裁判所、2020年11月26日付判決、事件番号No. 4c O 17/19参照。
  • [29] 同判決、第70節及び第71節。
  • [30] 同判決、第71節。
  • [31] 同判決、第72節。
  • [32] 同判決、第73節。
  • [33] 同判決、第74節。
  • [34] 同判決、第76節。
  • [35] 同判決、第77節。
  • [36] 同判決、第79節以下。
  • [37] 同判決、第83節。
  • [38] 同判決、第87節。
  • [39] 同判決、第88節以下。
  • [40] 同判決、第89節。
  • [41] 同判決、第93節以下。
  • [42] 同判決、第95節。
  • [43] 同判決、第96-99節。
  • [44] 同判決、第102節以下。
  • [45] 同判決、第102節。
  • [46] 同判決、第108節以下。
  • [47] 同判決、第116節。
  • [48] 同判決、第118節。
  • [49] 同判決、第124節以下。
  • [50] 同判決、第124節。
  • [51] 同判決、第125節。
  • [52] 同判決、第126節。
  • [53] しかし、本裁判所は、2020年5月に同じ当事者間の判決において当該分析を行っていた。Sisvel 対 Haier、連邦裁判所、2020年5月5日付判決、事件番号No. KZR 36/17、特に第76-81節及び第101節以下を参照。
  • [54] Sisvel 対 Haier、連邦裁判所、2020年11月24日付判決、事件番号No. KZR 35/17、第107節。
  • [55] 同判決、第56節。
  • [56] 同判決、第127節以下。
  • [57] 同判決、第130節。
  • [58] 同判決、第131節。
  • [59] 同判決、第131節以下。
  • [60] 同判決、第135節。
  • [61] 同判決、第134節以下。


Cases from OLG Düsseldorf - Higher Regional Court


OLG Düsseldorf

18 7月 2017 - Case No. I-2 U 23/17

A. Facts

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

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

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

B. Court’s reasoning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

C. Other issues

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

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


Sisvel v Haier

30 3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.


Sisvel v Haier 2

13 1月 2016 - Case No. 15 U 65/15

  1. Facts
    The proceedings concerned the subsequent application of Defendant in Case No. 4a O 144/14 to suspend the execution of the district court’s decision until the appellate court has decided on the merits of an appeal brought by Defendant. As to the facts of the case, it can be referred to the deliberations under point “1b” of the previous summaries.
    Due to the specific nature of the proceedings, the standard of review was limited to a summary examination of the decision rendered by the court of first instance. The court of appeal can suspend execution only if it comes to the conclusion that the challenged decision will probably not be upheld in second instance because it appears manifestly erroneous. If the decision, as in the present case, has been declared provisionally enforceable subject to the provision of security by Claimant suspension of execution will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. [1]
  2. Court’s reasoning

    1. The SEP owner’s licensing offer
      The question of whether granting a portfolio license would be FRAND was referred to the subsequent appeal proceedings. [2]
    2. The standard implementer’s reaction
      More importantly, the Court found that the standard user is not required to respond to a license offer of the SEP proprietor if the terms of that offer are not FRAND. In other words, the subsequent obligations of the alleged infringer derived from Huawei only arise when and provided that the SEP proprietor submitted an offer on FRAND terms. As the lower court had not determined whether the conditions of the proprietor’s license offers were FRAND, the Court considered this part of the lower court’s decision to be manifestly erroneous. Given this flaw in the lower court’s reasoning, it was left undecided by the Court whether a license offer submitted in the course of the oral hearings can fulfill the Huawei requirements. [3]
  3. Other important issues
    For the purposes of the present proceedings, the Court explicitly stated that there is—in principle—no reason to treat patent assertion entities, such as Claimant, in a different manner than other market participants. [4]
  • [1] Case No. 15 U 65/15, para. 2
  • [2] Case No. 15 U 65/15, para. 28
  • [3] Case No. 15 U 65/15, para. 23-30
  • [4] Case No. 15 U 65/15, para. 12


Canon v Carsten Weser

29 4月 2016 - Case No. I-15 U 49/15

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


Sisvel v Haier 3

13 1月 2016 - Case No. I-15 U 66/15

  1. Facts
    The proceedings concerned the subsequent application of Defendants in Case No. 4a O 93/14 seeking to suspend the execution of the District Court’s decision until the appellate court has decided on the merits of an appeal brought by Defendants. As to the facts of the case, it can be referred to the summary above.
    Due to the specific nature of the proceedings, the standard of review was limited to a summary examination of the decision rendered by the court of first instance. The court of appeal can suspend execution only if it comes to the conclusion that the challenged decision will probably not be upheld in second instance because it appears manifestly erroneous. [1]
  2. Court’s reasoning

    1. The SEP owner’s licensing offer
      The question of whether granting a portfolio license would be FRAND was referred to the subsequent appeal proceedings. [2]
    2. The standard implementer’s reaction
      More importantly, the court found that the standard user is not required to respond to a license offer of the SEP proprietor if the terms of that offer are not FRAND. In other words, the subsequent obligations of the alleged infringer derived from Huawei only arise when and provided that the SEP proprietor submitted an offer on FRAND terms. As the lower court had not determined whether the conditions of the proprietor’s license offers were FRAND, the court considered this part of the lower court’s decision to be manifestly erroneous. Given this flaw in the lower court’s reasoning, it was left undecided by the court whether a license offer submitted in the course of the oral hearings can fulfill the Huawei requirements. [3]
  3. Other important issues
    For the purposes of the present proceedings, the court explicitly stated that there is—in principle—no reason to treat non-practicing entities, such as Claimant, in a different manner than other market participants. [4]
  • [1] Case No. I-15 U 66/15, para. 4-5
  • [2] Case No. I-15 U 66/15, para. 20
  • [3] Case No. I-15 U 66/15, para. 17-20
  • [4] Case No. I-15 U 66/15, para. 11


Canon v Sieg/Kmp Printtechnik/Part Depot

29 4月 2016 - Case No. I-15 U 47/15

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


Saint Lawrence v Vodafone

9 5月 2016 - Case No. I-15 U 36/16

  1. Facts
    The proceedings concerned the subsequent application of Defendant in Case No. 4a O 73/14 seeking to suspend the execution of the district court’s decision until the appellate court has decided on the merits of an appeal brought by Defendant. As to the facts of the case, it can be referred to the summary above.
    Due to the specific nature of the proceedings, the standard of review was limited to a summary examination of the decision rendered by the court of first instance. The court of appeal can suspend execution only if it comes to the conclusion that the challenged decision will probably not be upheld in second instance because it appears manifestly erroneous.
  2. Court’s reasoning
    1. Notice of infringement and declaration of willingness to license
      Firstly, the court of appeal focused on the Huawei requirement to submit an infringement notification prior to the initiation of proceedings. Although the court voiced some doubts over whether a distinction between transitional and non-transitional cases is permitted and whether, in transitional cases, reliance of a SEP proprietor on the Orange Book standard of conduct is worthy of protection, it did not consider the result reached by the lower court as manifestly erroneous. Since the SEP proprietor has the option to withdraw its action, to perform its Huawei obligations and to re-file the claim afterwards, it seems overly formalistic to deny the option to perform the Huawei obligations within the ongoing trial. Among a number of further reasons For details, cf. OLG Düsseldorf, 9 May 2016 - Case No. I-15 U 36/16, para. 2, b, aa for its position the court stressed that the ECJ intended the Huawei framework to be fact-sensitive. [3]
      Secondly, the court confirmed the lower court’s view that Defendant did not comply with its Huawei obligation to express its willingness to conclude a licensing agreement because it reacted belatedly (more than five months after the infringement notification) and in an evasive manner. The fact that proceedings have been initiated by Claimant does not alter the Huawei requirements and Defendant will particularly not be granted more time to comply with its respective obligations. [4]
    2. The SEP owner’s licensing offer / The standard implementer’s reaction
      The court left it undecided whether the lower court erred in focusing on a licensing offer which Claimant presented solely to the Intervener but not to Defendant. According to the court the conduct of the parties required by Huawei constitutes a mechanism of alternating, consecutive steps in which no subsequent conduct requirement is triggered unless the other party performed the previous “step”. In consequence, Claimant was, in the present case, not obliged to submit a FRAND licensing offer at all since Defendant had failed to signal willingness to license. [5]
      The lower court’s finding that Claimant’s licensing offer was FRAND while the Intervener’s counter-offer failed to meet this threshold was accepted. Hence, the court considered it as irrelevant under the present circumstances—and as a completely open question in general—whether a SEP proprietor is obliged, before bringing an action for prohibitory injunction against the supplier of a standard-implementing device, to (cumulatively) submit a FRAND licensing offer not only to the supplier but also to the producer of said device. [6]
  3. Other important issues
    The remarks of the lower court rejecting, in the present case, a patent ambush-argument were not deemed manifestly erroneous, mainly because the lower court had reasonably argued that such an abusive practice would only result in the SEP proprietor’s obligation to grant licenses on FRAND terms. [7]
    Licensing negotiations (allegedly) undertaken by Defendant after the decision of the lower court provided no reason to suspense execution since it was not evident to the court that Defendant had thereby fulfilled its Huawei obligations. [8]
  • [2] For details, cf. OLG Düsseldorf, 9 May 2016 - Case No. I-15 U 36/16, para. 2, b, aa
  • [3] Case No. I-15 U 36/16, para. 2, b, aa
  • [4] Case No. I-15 U 36/16, para. 2, b, bb
  • [5] Case No. I-15 U 36/16, para. 2, b, cc
  • [6] Case No. I-15 U 36/16, para. 2, b, ff
  • [7] Case No. I-15 U 36/16, para. 2, b, ee
  • [8] Case No. I-15 U 36/16, para. 2, b, dd


Saint Lawrence v Vodafone 2

9 5月 2016 - Case No. I-15 U 35/16

The proceedings concerned the subsequent application of Defendant in Case No. 4a O 126/14 seeking to suspend execution of the lower court’s decision. As Cases No. 4a O 126/14 and No. 4a O 73/14 are interconnected, the Court came to the same conclusions and framed them in exactly the same wording as in its decision OLG Düsseldorf, 9 May 2016 - Case No. I-15 U 36/16 (cf. above). Therefore, no separate and detailed summary is provided here.


OLG Düsseldorf 2

14 12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. [1] 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). [1] 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. [1] 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. [2] The Intervener does not join the proceedings as a party, but merely in support of one of the parties. [3] 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. [4]

    Notwithstanding the above, under reference to the “Umweltengel für Tragetaschen” judgement of the German Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) [5] 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. [6] 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. [6]

    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.
  • [1] Judgement dated 14th December 2016, para. 1
  • [2] Judgement dated 14th December 2016, para. 2
  • [3] Judgement dated 14th December 2016, para. 2
  • [4] Judgement dated 14th December 2016, para. 3
  • [5] Bundesgerichtshof, Decision dated 19th February 2014, Case No. I ZR 230/12
  • [6] Judgement dated 14th December 2016, para. 5


OLG Düsseldorf 3

25 4月 2018 - Case No. I-2 W 8/18

A. Facts

The Claimant holds a patent essential to a technical standard (Standard Essential Patent or SEP) which is subject to a so-called “FRAND-undertaking”, that is a commitment to make the SEP accessible to users on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms and conditions. The Claimant entered into nego¬tiations for a FRAND licensing agreement with the Defendant. In June 2017, the parties signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). [1] A few days later, the Claimant entered into an NDA also with a third party, the Intervener . Shortly after signing the NDA, the Intervener [2] argued that several clauses of the agreement were void. [3]

In September 2017, the Claimant initiated infringement proceedings against the Defendant before the District Court of Düsseldorf (District Court). The Intervener joined these proceedings in support of the Defendant. After joining the proceedings, the Intervener claimed that the NDA with the Claimant does not cover information which the latter has to produce in the trial. This is particularly the case with infor-mation regarding to comparable licensing agreements concluded by the Claimant with third parties (comparable licences), which the Claimant regarded as strictly confidential. [4]

In December 2017, the Intervener requested full access to the court files. [5] The District Court dismissed the Intervener’s motion in part, namely by excluding access to confidential information, including information on comparable licences. The District Court held that the protection of such information was not adequately ensured, since the Intervener’s behaviour raised significant doubts that he considered himself bound to confidentiality by the NDA signed with the Claimant. [6] The Intervener appealed this decision.

The Higher District Court of Düsseldorf (Court) set the above ruling aside and requested the District Court to further clarify the facts of the case and decide again on the Intervener’s motion for full access to the court files on basis of the principles set forth in its present judgement. [7] In particular, the Court requested from the District Court to (re-)examine whether the Claimant actually possessed confidential business information which needed protection. [7] If this fact could be positively established, then a limited access to the court files would, basically, be justified, if the party seeking access to the files refused to commit itself to confidentiality. [8]

B. Court’s reasoning

The Court pointed out that parties to court proceedings seeking to protect confidential information must undertake efforts to sign an NDA with the opposing party and any intervener that has joined or is expected to join the proceedings with a high degree of certainty, before disclosing such information in the trial. [9] A party doing so without an NDA has to accept that the opposing party and/or the intervener could gain access to confidential information through an inspection of the court files. [10]

In the eyes of the Court, requesting from the party seeking to protect confidential information to actively pursue the conclusion of NDAs with other parties involved in the proceedings does not put that party at a disadvantage. The unjustified refusal of the opposing party (or an intervener) to enter into an NDA allows the party seeking protection to use only non-confidential information in the proceedings for specifying the FRAND conformity of its licensing offer to the potential licensee. [11] Although still obliged to specify the conditions of its FRAND licensing offer, the party has a lower burden to bear; to the extent (and not be¬yond) that is required for protecting its justified confidentiality interests, the party can meet its respective obligation by making “merely indicative observations” in the trial. [12]

In case that an intervener joins the proceedings at a point in time, in which a party has already produced confidential information on grounds of an NDA previously signed with the opposing party, the intervener’s right to inspect the court files can only be limited, if it was (or can) be established that the party seeking protection actually possesses confidential business information. [13] The fact that the other parties involved in the proceedings have already signed an NDA does not of itself limit the intervener’s right to full access to the court files. [14]

To establish that it possesses confidential business information worthy of protection, a party must identify such information and concretely explain why this information constitutes a business secret. [15] The party also needs to present in detail which measures were taken so far for securing confidentiality with respect to the information in question. [15] In addition, the party has to demonstrate in a substantiated and verifiable manner (for each information separately), which concrete disadvantages would be suffered, if the information would be disclosed. [15] It also needs to be explained, with which degree of certainty the said disadvantages are expected to occur. [15]

When protection of confidential information contained in comparable licences is sought, the existence of confidentiality interests requires, in general, special justification. [16] In the Court’s view, the SEP holder’s FRAND-undertaking entails transparency vis-à-vis interested stakeholders with respect to licensing conditions. [16] Moreover, knowledge of licensing conditions already accepted in the market can help potential licensees exercise their rights in infringement proceedings effectively. [16] Considering the non-discriminating element of SEP holder’s FRAND undertaking, it is not immediately apparent to the Court which interest worthy of legal protection the SEP holder could have in keeping conditions agreed in existing licensing agreements confidential. [16] In fact, several licensing pools (e.g. MPEG) publish their licensing agreements online. [16]

Should the party seeking protection fail to establish that it possesses confidential business information needing protection, full access to the court files must be granted to the intervener upon request, irrespective of whether the latter signs an NDA or not. [17] Conversely, if the existence of confidential business information is established, the intervener’s right to inspect the court files can be limited only to non-confidential information, as long as the intervener refuses to enter into an NDA with the party seeking protection of its confidentiality interests. [8]

In case that a party which has signed an NDA breaches its obligations under this agreement or “backs out” of the NDA, the party relying on the protection of its confidentiality interests can again limit its (future) submissions of facts in the proceedings to non-confidential information. [18] In other words, in terms of detail, the party must again not present information going beyond “merely indicative observations”. [18] Whether a party has “backed out“ of an NDA is a question of fact which has to be decided on a case-by-case basis. [19] For this, it is required that the party’s behaviour has caused a high risk of a breach of confidentiality. [19] For instance, this could be the case, when legal arguments brought by the party against the validity of the NDA are not reasonable, but rather serve as a pretext. [19]

  • [1] Higher District Court of Düsseldorf, judgement dated 25 April 2018, Case No. I-2 W 8/18, para. 26
  • [2] Ibid, para. 26
  • [3] Ibid, para. 32
  • [4] Ibid, para. 35
  • [5] Ibid, para. 2
  • [6] Ibid, para. 27
  • [7] Ibid, para. 36 et seq
  • [8] Ibid, para. 17
  • [9] Ibid, paras 11 and 14
  • [10] Ibid, para. 11
  • [11] Ibid, para. 13
  • [12] Ibid, para. 13
  • [13] Ibid, para. 15
  • [14] Ibid, para. 15 et seq
  • [15] Ibid, para. 23
  • [16] Ibid, para. 24
  • [17] Ibid, para. 16
  • [18] Ibid, para. 20
  • [19] Ibid, para. 21


Unwired Planet v Huawei

22 3月 2019 - Case No. I-2 U 31/16

A. Facts

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

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

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

In March 2014, the Claimant brought an action against the Defendants before the District Court (Landgericht) of Düsseldorf (District Court) based on one of its SEPs, asking for a declaratory judgement recognising the Defendants’ liability for damages on the merits, as well as information and the rendering of accountsUnwired Planet v Huawei, Higher District Court of Düsseldorf, 22 March 2019, para. 32 (cited by www.nrwe.de).. At the same time, the Claimant also initiated infringement proceedings against the Defendants in the UK (UK proceedings). During the course of the UK proceedings, the parties made certain licensing offers. However, an agreement was not reached.

By judgment dated 19th January 2016, the District Court found that the Defendants infringed the patent in suit, recognised the Defendant’s liability for damages on the merits and ordered the Defendants to render accounts to the Claimant [2] . The Defendants appealed the District Court’s ruling.

With the present judgment, the Higher District Court (Oberlandesgericht) of Düsseldorf (Court), basically, upheld the decision of the District Court. However, following a partial withdrawal of claims by the Claimant, the Court limited the Defendants’ obligation to render accounts by excluding information about production costs (broken down by single cost factors) and realised profits [3] .

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

B. Court’s reasoning

The Court confirmed the District Court’s finding that the Defendants had infringed the patent in suit by offering for sale and selling standard-compliant products in Germany [4] .

The Court also agreed with the District Court’s finding that the Claimant was entitled to assert claims against the Defendants: in its view, the patent in suit had been validly transferred to the Claimant [5] .

Transfer of SEPs

The Defendants had argued that the agreements underlying the transfer of said SEP to the Claimant had several flaws, which the District Court had not evaluated properly. In a lengthy reasoning, the Court dismissed this argument and confirmed the validity of the agreements in question [6] .

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

In the Court’s eyes, the – repeated – transfer of a SEP does not constitute an abuse of market power in violation of Article 102 TFEU [7] , since the FRAND undertaking, which – according to the Court – irrevocably limits the exclusion rights arising from a patent ‘in rem’ (‘dinglich’) [8] , is directly and indispensably binding for the new patent holder (irrespective of any contractual obligation assumed by the latter) [9] . Due to the ‘automatic’ transfer of the FRAND undertaking, there is no reason for prohibiting the transfer of SEPs or imposing limitations regarding to whom the SEP is assigned to; insofar, the patent holder has a free choice [10] .

Furthermore, the Court found that the transfer of the SEP in suit to the Claimant did not violate Article 101 TFEU [11] . Reciprocal agreements, as the agreements underlying the transfer of said patent, per se do not violate Article 101 TFEU, unless they contain side agreements which could impede competition [12] . According to the Court, this was not the case here. In this context, the Court explained that the fact that Ericsson had transferred only a part of its portfolio to the Claimant could not have any anti-competitive effect in terms of Article 101 TFEU [13] . Reason for this is that the FRAND-undertaking, to which both Ericsson and the Claimant are bound, sets the upper limit for the financial or other kind of burden from the licence that can be imposed on any licensee with respect to the entire patent portfolio [13] .

FRAND-undertaking

Having taken the view that the FRAND-undertaking is ‘automatically’ transferred to the new SEP holder, the Court suggested that it is binding for the latter not only ‘on the merits’ (‘dem Grunde nach’), but also in terms of ‘amount and content’ (‘der Höhe und dem Inhalt nach’) [14] . In other words: the new patent holder is not only – generally – obliged to offer access to the SEP on FRAND terms, it is, moreover, bound to the actual licensing practice of the previous patent holder [14] . The Court found that this is needed for ensuring that the SEP holder will not exempt itself of its FRAND commitment – especially the non-discrimination obligation – by transferring the SEP to a third party [15] .

Existing licensing agreements / Confidentiality

Accordingly, the Court held that existing licensing agreements of the previous patent holder (which have not expired yet) need to be considered for the assessment of the non-discriminatory character of licensing offers made by the new SEP holder [16] . Consequently, in the Court’s view, the SEP holder’s FRAND undertaking obliges the latter to provide its successor with information regarding to the content of licensing agreements which it had concluded with third parties [16] .

To be able to establish the non-discriminatory character of its licensing offer, the new SEP holder needs to make sure that it will be able to refer to and present licensing agreements of the prior SEP holder, particularly in court proceedings [17] . An exception could be made only when presenting such agreements would violate contractual confidentiality obligations. For this, the content of relevant confidentiality clauses must be presented in detail in trial, in order to allow an assessment of the extent of the patent holder’s obligations [18] . In addition, the party bound to respective clauses must demonstrate that it cannot release itself from its confidentiality obligations, by showing that all existing licensees have refused – upon request – to waive their rights arising from each clause in question [18] . Notwithstanding this, the Court expressed the view that agreeing to comprehensive confidentiality clauses will, as a rule, bar the SEP holder (and/or its successor) from invoking confidentiality with respect to existing licences in pending court proceedings: in this case, the refusal to present licences cannot be justified, since the patent holder acted culpably by agreeing to confidentiality with other licensees, regardless of its FRAND-obligation to provide information to its successor with respect to the licensing agreements it has signed [18] . Its unjustified refusal to present existing licences will, moreover, also affect the position of the new patent holder in trial (leading potentially to a dismissal of its claims for lack of evidence of the FRAND-conformity of its licensing offer) [18] .

In this context, the Court noted that presenting existing licensing agreements with third parties in trial does not raise antitrust concerns (especially under Article 101 TFEU) [19] . According to the Court, the fact that business secrets will be disclosed to potential competitors of the existing licensees is not harmful from an antitrust perspective, since measures to protect confidentiality in trial are available [19] . In particular, the addressee of confidential information is obliged to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), if the holder of such information (a) concretely explains why this information constitutes a business secret, (b) presents in detail which measures were taken so far for securing confidentiality with respect to the information in question, (c) demonstrates in a substantiated and verifiable manner (for each information separately), which concrete disadvantages would be suffered, if the information would be disclosed and (d) also explains, with which degree of certainty the said disadvantages are expected to occur [19] . If these requirements are met, the opposing party’s refusal to sign an NDA would allow the party holding confidential information to limit its pleadings in trial to ‘general, indicative statements’ [19] . According to the Court, this was, however, not the case here.

Application of the Huawei framework

On the merits of the case, the Court made clear that the conditions established by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the matter Huawei v ZTE [20] (Huawei framework or obligations) apply only to claims for injunctive relief and the recall of infringing products, not to the patent holders’ claims for information, rendering of accounts and damagesUnwired Planet v Huawei, Higher District Court of Düsseldorf, 22 March 2019, para. 159 (cited by www.nrwe.de).. In particular, when deciding about the implementer’s liability for damages on the merits, courts do not have to consider whether the patent holder has met its Huawei obligations or not [22] .

This question is, however, relevant for deciding on the amount of damages owed to the patent holder. The non-compliance of the SEP holder with the Huawei framework can limit the amount of damages that it can claim to the amount of a FRAND royalty (for certain periods of time) [23] . Since the right to request the rendering of accounts serves the calculation of the amount of damages, the Court took the view that the SEP holder is barred from claiming information about production costs and/or realised profits for periods of time, in which it is not entitled to damages going beyond the FRAND royalty, because this information is not required for calculating the latterIbid, para. 402 et seq. Insofar the Court expressly disagreed with the District Court of Mannheim, which in a previous decision had denied any limitations of the patent holder’s right to demand the rendering of accounts, in case of non-compliance with the Huawei framework; cf. District Court of Mannheim, judgment dated 10 November 2017, Case No. 7 O 28/16, GRUR-RR 2018, 273..

SEP holder’s offer to the implementer

Looking at the present case, the Court held that the Claimant had not fulfilled its Huawei obligation to make a written and specific FRAND licensing offer to the Defendants [25] . In particular, in the offers made the Claimant failed to adequately specify both the calculation and the non-discriminatory nature of the royalties proposed [26] .

For allowing the implementer to assess the non-discriminatory character of the SEP holder’s licensing offer, the Court repeated that the latter is obliged to disclose whether other licensees exist and, if so, to which conditions they have been licensed [27] . This obligation extends also to licensing agreements concluded by the previous patent holder(s) [27] . Only agreements that have expired or have been terminated do not need to be considered in this respect [28] . As a result, the Claimant should have referred to both the licences covering the SEP in suit that it had concluded with third parties after the transfer of the patent, and to all licences, which Ericsson had concluded with licensees prior to the transfer of said patent and were still in force, when the Claimant made the respective licensing offer to the Defendants [29] .

The Court took the view that, prior to granting the very first FRAND licence, the SEP holder ought to select a specific ‘licensing concept’. This ‘concept’ is ‘legally binding’ for the future licensing conduct of the SEP holder and potential successors. In other words: the licensing conditions established by the first FRAND licence granted outline the leeway available to the SEP holder for future licensing negotiations [30] . This is also the case, when the royalties agreed for the first licence lie at the lower end of the FRAND scale available to the patent holder [31] . Accordingly, any deviation from the ‘licensing concept’ is allowed only and to the extent that (existing and new) licensees are not discriminated through less favourable conditions [30] .

The Court allowed SEP holders to select a new ‘licensing concept’ (within the available FRAND range), provided that all licensing agreements subject to the existing ‘concept’ will expire at the same point in time [32] . In the Court’s view, this could be achieved, for instance, by agreeing with all later licensees that their licence will expire at the same time as the first FRAND licence ever granted [28] . The Court recognised that this would require substantial efforts, particularly when considerable patent portfolios are involved; this fact did not, however, speak against binding the successor to the licensing practice of the previous SEP holder [33] .

C. Other important issues

According to the Court, the fact that the UK proceedings were directed towards setting the terms of a worldwide licence between the parties, covering all SEPs held by the Claimant did not require the Court to stay its own proceedings [34] . According to Article 27 of the Brussels I Regulation, the court later seized of the matter has to stay its proceedings until the jurisdiction of the court first seized of the case has been settled. The Court saw, however, no indication that the UK proceedings (had ever) concerned the claims asserted in the proceedings brought before it (claims limited to Germany) [34] .

Besides that, the Court confirmed that German courts have international jurisdiction for the claims brought against Huawei China [35] . If infringing products are offered over the internet, the international jurisdiction of German courts is established, when German patent rights are being affected and the website can be accessed in Germany [35] .

  • [1] Unwired Planet v Huawei, Higher District Court of Düsseldorf, 22 March 2019, para. 32 (cited by www.nrwe.de).
  • [2] Ibid, para. 41. See District Court of Duesseldorf, judgement dated 19 January 2016, Case No. 4b O 49/14.
  • [3] Ibid, paras. 139 et seqq.
  • [4] Ibid, paras. 252-387.
  • [5] Ibid, paras. 161 et seqq.
  • [6] Ibid, paras. 169-199.
  • [7] Ibid, para. 203 et seqq.
  • [8] Ibid, para. 205.
  • [9] Ibid, paras 205 et seqq.
  • [10] Ibid, para 209.
  • [11] Ibid, paras. 235 et seqq.
  • [12] Ibid, para. 236.
  • [13] Ibid, para. 242.
  • [14] Ibid, paras. 212 et seqq.
  • [15] Ibid, para. 214.
  • [16] Ibid, paras. 216 et seq.
  • [17] Ibid, para. 216.
  • [18] Ibid, para. 218.
  • [19] Ibid, para. 220.
  • [20] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13.
  • [21] Unwired Planet v Huawei, Higher District Court of Düsseldorf, 22 March 2019, para. 159 (cited by www.nrwe.de).
  • [22] Ibid, para. 396.
  • [23] Ibid, para. 402.
  • [24] Ibid, para. 402 et seq. Insofar the Court expressly disagreed with the District Court of Mannheim, which in a previous decision had denied any limitations of the patent holder’s right to demand the rendering of accounts, in case of non-compliance with the Huawei framework; cf. District Court of Mannheim, judgment dated 10 November 2017, Case No. 7 O 28/16, GRUR-RR 2018, 273.
  • [25] Ibid, paras. 406 et seqq.
  • [26] Ibid, para. 411.
  • [27] Ibid, para. 419.
  • [28] Ibid, para. 420.
  • [29] Ibid, para. 423.
  • [30] Ibid, paras. 413 et seq.
  • [31] Ibid, para. 413.
  • [32] Ibid, paras. 414 and 420.
  • [33] Ibid, para. 421.
  • [34] Ibid, para. 144.
  • [35] Ibid, paras. 153 et seqq.


Philips v TCT

12 5月 2022 - Case No. 2 U 13/21

A. 事実

原告である Philips は、Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) 標準に必須と宣言された特許を所有している。AAC規格は、Googleモバイルサービス(GMS)の認証要件の一部である。GMS認証は、スマートフォンやタブレット端末で利用できるGoogleのアプリケーションを使用するために必要である。

Philipsは関連する標準化団体(SDO) [9] に対して、標準必須特許(SEP)を公平、合理的、非差別的(FRAND)な条件で利用者が利用できるようにすることを誓約した。Philipsは、Via Licensing Corporation(Via Licensing)が管理するAAC関連のSEPをカバーするパテントプール(Via Licensingプール)に参加している。

被告は、中国に本社を置くTCTグループ(TCT)のドイツ及びフランスの子会社である。TCTは、AAC規格を実装した製品をグローバルに(ドイツを含む)製造及び販売している。2005年にTCTはVia Licensing poolとAACライセンスを締結したが、当該ライセンスは2007年3月に終了した。

2016年12月、PhilipsはTCTに対し特許侵害について通知し、一般的に二者間ライセンス契約を締結する可能性があることを示した。TCTはこれに応じなかった。2017年4月にTCTはVia Licensingからプールライセンスに関する申出を受けたが、これにも反応しなかった。

2019年、Philipsはデュッセルドルフ地方裁判所(本地方裁判所)にてTCTに対する訴訟を提起し、(とりわけ)差止命令による救済も主張した。2020年3月、TCTは、FRAND条件でPhilipsからライセンスを受ける用意があると宣言した。その後、2020年5月及び7月に送られた2通の書簡で、TCTはPhilipsに対し、(二者間)ライセンスの申出を提供するよう求めた。

2020年7月、PhilipsはTCTに返信し、TCTがライセンス締結について有する意思に疑問を呈し、Via Licensing poolに紹介した。Philipsは、TCTに対し二者間ライセンスの申出をする理由はないと付け加えた。2020年8月、TCTはプールライセンスについてVia Licensingに問い合わせると示したが、Philipsから二者間ライセンスの申出を受ける方が望ましいと再度述べた。2020年10月、Philipsは、プールライセンスはFRAND原則の下で行われる十分な申出であると考えていると回答した。2020年11月、TCTはPhilipsからの二者間ライセンス申出を再度主張した。2021年3月15日に再び同じ要請が行われたが、2021年3月18日にPhilipsはこれを断った。

2021年4月1日、TCTはPhilipsに(カウンター)オファーを出した。Philipsは、2021年4月9日、本地方裁判所での口頭審理において、このカウンターオファーを拒絶した。

2021年5月11日、本地方裁判所はTCTに対する差止命令を発出した [10] 。TCTは控訴した。本判決により、デュッセルドルフ高等裁判所(本裁判所)は差止命令を支持した [11] 。(引用 www.nrwe.de).
 

B. 判決理由

本裁判所は、係争特許が侵害されていると判断した [12]

さらに、本裁判所は、TCTが提起したいわゆる「FRAND宣言を理由とする抗弁」を棄却した [13] 。TCTは、Philipsが訴訟を起こすことによりEU機能条約(TFEU)第102条に違反して市場における支配的地位を濫用したため、差止命令を拒否されるべきだと主張していた。
 

市場における支配的地位の濫用なし

本裁判所は、Philipsは係争特許に関してTFEU102条の意味における市場支配的地位を有しているとの見解を示した [14] 。市場支配は特許から生じる排除的権利自体を直接的な理由とするものではなく、市場支配とみなされるためには、いくつかの要素に該当しなければならない [15] 。その評価にとって決定的となるのは、どの市場に関連するかという判断である。SEP については、(技術的観点から)SDO(事実上の標準)によって開発された規格に準拠するために当該特許を使用しなければならず、川下の製品市場における重要な機能を失うことなく特許を回避することが通常不可能である場合、個々のライセンス市場が存在する [16] 。さらに、(市場支配とみなされるためには)特許及び対応する標準仕様の教示を、製品の異なる技術設計で置き換えることは可能であってはならない [16] 。このような背景から、本裁判所は、Philipsが市場における支配的地位を有していることを認めた [17] 。当該係争特許が必須であるAAC標準は、Androidエコシステム内のGoogleサービスに対する互換性要件である。本裁判所の構成員の認識によれば、Googleのサービスに対応していない携帯電話及びタブレットは、販売できないとのことである [18] 。70パーセントのユーザーがGoogleのサービスに対応していない携帯電話を購入しないという調査結果の存在は、本裁判所によれば、この知見を補強するものである [18] 。さらに、本裁判所は、Android及びiOSの2つの支配的なプラットフォームの市場占有率(99パーセント以上)を考慮すると、電話機及びタブレットの製造業者がAAC規格を回避するために独自のOSを開発することは期待できないと指摘している [19] 。そう述べた上で、本裁判所は、Philipsが市場において自らが有する支配的地位を濫用していないことを強調した [20]

市場支配力の濫用は、関連するSDOに対しFRANDの誓約をした特許保有者が、(a)ライセンス取得の意思を有する実施者にライセンスを供与することを拒否し、実施者に対して差止命令(及び/又は侵害品のリコール及び/又は破棄)を求める訴訟を提起した場合、又は(b)ライセンス取得の意思を有する実施者が合理的な条件でライセンス契約を締結できるよう十分な努力をしなかった場合に発生する [21] 。本裁判所は、TCTはFRANDライセンスを取得する意思がなかったため、上記は本件に該当しないとの見解を示した [22]
 

侵害通知

本裁判所は、PhilipsがTCTに対し適切な侵害通知を行う義務を果たしていたとする本地方裁判所の判決に同意した [23] 。この点は控訴の対象ではなかったため、本裁判所は一審判決の当該分析を参照した [23]
 

意思

TCTの行為について、本裁判所は、TCTにはFRANDライセンスを締結する意思がなかったと結論づけた [22]

本裁判所は、「意思」の概念について、「一般的な」意思と「具体的」意思を区別する必要があると説明した [24] 。「一般的な」意思とは、(主に)特許保有者に対する「ライセンスの要請」を通じて表現される、侵害者がFRANDライセンスを取得する基本的な意思を指す [24] 。一方、「具体的」な意思表示とは、裁判所がFRANDであると確認した特許保有者の具体的なライセンス申出を承諾する侵害者の意思を意味する [24] 。「一般的な」意思が存在しない場合は差止命令につながる。この場合、特許保有者のライセンス申出がFRANDであるか否かは関係ない(及び裁判所が検討すべきでない) [24] 。それとは逆に、「具体的な」意思の欠如は、裁判所が特許保有者の申出を検討しFRANDであることを立証した場合にのみ、侵害者に否定的な結果をもたらす可能性がある [24] 。FRANDと認められなかった場合、「具体的」な意思の欠如は何の影響も与えない [24]

本裁判所は、TCTは「一般的な」意思を示すことができなかったとの見解を示した [25] 。本裁判所は、TCTが適切な「ライセンスの要請」を行っていなかったことを強調した [22] 。ライセンスの要請は、「包括的」かつ「形のない」宣言の形をとることも、「暗黙の」うちになされることもある [26] 。しかしながら、実施者は特許保有者に対しライセンスを取得する「一般的な」意図を明確に示さなければならない。本裁判所によれば、ライセンスを取得する誠実な意思に根ざしておらず、むしろ遅延という目的に資することが明らかな単なる「リップサービス」は十分でない [26] 。遅れて行われた「ライセンスの要請」が考慮されるべきかどうかという問題に関して、本裁判所は、要請において、侵害者側の以前の時間稼ぎ的な行動からの「本意のシフト」を明確に示す事実がみられるとすれば、そのような考慮が行われる場合があり得ると説明した [26] 。(カウンター)オファーの発出は、侵害者が以前に講じた遅延戦術を放棄していないことが明らかとなる程度に、 内容的に「非FRAND」でない限り、そのような「シフト」の兆候となり得る [26]

具体的な事例について、本裁判所はまず、約10年にわたる期間(2007年のプールライセンス終了から2016年12月にPhilipsが通知するまでの間)について、以下の点を批判した。TCTは、Philips又はVia Licensingに対し、新たなライセンス契約を締結する意思があること、又は(ライセンスがない場合)AAC規格の使用をやめることを表明していなかった [27] 。さらに、本裁判所は、TCTが2017年4月にPhilipsからの通知又はVia Licensingからの申出のいずれにも応答していなかったことは、意思の欠如を示すものだとしている [28]

この意思の欠如は、TCTが2020年3月、5月及び7月にPhilipsに送付した書簡(すなわち、2016年12月に侵害通知を受領してから3年以上経過し、訴訟が提起されて初めて送付した書簡)によって補うことはできない [29] 。本裁判所は、当該書簡はTCTの行動における「シフト」を示すものではなく、当該時点までに適用された遅延戦術の継続に資するものであると判断した [30] 。「意思のある」ライセンシーであれば、3年以上経過した後は、TCTとは異なり、プールライセンスよりも二国間ライセンスが望ましいとする具体的な理由を提示したはずである [31] 。このことは、今回のように、侵害者(TCTの親会社)が以前にこのライセンスモデルに異議を唱えることなくプールライセンスを締結していた場合、特に当てはまると考えられる [31]

さらに、本裁判所は、TCTがPhilipsから二者間ライセンスの申出を受けることにこだわるのは、Philipsの権利行使を「阻止」しようとする試みの延長である(そして、ライセンスに署名する意思を本心から示したものではない)とした [32] 。本裁判所は、Philipsが第三者と二者間契約を締結する用意があるという(疑いのない)事実のみによって、TCTがこの主張を正当化することはできないと理由付けをしている [33] 。本裁判所は、特許保有者は原則として、実施者に対しプールライセンス以外の二者間ライセンスを申し出る義務はないとの見解を示した [34]

さらに、本裁判所は、PhilipsがTCTに対して二者間ライセンスを申し出ないのは差別的であるという主張を退けた [35] 。本裁判所は、SEP保有者は、客観的な基準に基づきいずれかのタイプのライセンスへのアクセスを認めるものであれば、複数のオプションを並行して申し出るモデルを選択できると強調した [36] 。Philipsは例外的な状況でのみ二者間ライセンスを申し出ている。すなわち、実施者が他の関連するSEP保有者と既に二者間契約を締結している場合であって、二者間ライセンスがAAC標準以外の他の標準もカバーするとき、又はプールライセンスが別の理由により不合理であることが判明した場合などである [37] 。本裁判所は、このような慣行自体に問題はないとした [38]

さらに、本裁判所は、Philipsが例外的に二者間ライセンスを付与する意思を有していることは、TCTが一般的な請求によりそのようなライセンスを付与されることを示すものではないと指摘した [39] 。TCTは、プールライセンスが本件において(Philipsのライセンスモデルに基づき)不合理である理由を示すべきであったが、TCTはこれを示していない [39] 。本裁判所は、二者間契約が両当事者の利益を「完全に満足」させるものであるというTCTの主張は、TCTがその理由を全く述べていないことから「絵空事」に過ぎないと判断した [40] 。本裁判所は、さらに、TCTが二者間SEPライセンスの締結という「一般的な商慣行」を踏襲していたことの確証もないとした [41] 。本裁判所は、TCTが他の特許保有者との間でAAC規格を対象とする二者間ライセンス契約を一件も締結していないことを指摘した [41] 。異なる製品セグメント(すなわち、テレビ)に関するAAC規格に関する合意は、(本裁判所によれば)この点では関連性がない。さらに、TCT及びPhillipsが、他の(無線)規格を含む特許ポートフォリオに関して二者間交渉を行っていたことも、何ら関連性がない [41]

上記とは別に、本裁判所は、TCTのカウンターオファーは交渉の適切な基礎となるものではなく、裁判及びライセンスに関する協議を遅らせるという継続的な意思を明確に示すものであったとした [42] 。一方、本裁判所は、TCTが侵害訴訟における非常に遅い段階で申出を行った理由を特定できなかった(そのために、Phillipsも本地方裁判所も、カウンターオファーについて必要な細部の検討ができなかった) [43] 。本裁判所は、TCTのカウンターオファーは(遅かっただけでなく)内容的にも不十分であったと考えている [44] 。その内容は、第三者事業サービスプロバイダーから入手した2020年の売上高を基に算出された一時金を支払うというものであった。本裁判所は、TCTがこの点について具体的な申出を行っていないことから、実際の売上高の代わりに第三者のデータを使用することが一般的な市場慣行か否かについて疑問を抱いた [45] 。また、AAC規格に対応しているにもかかわらず、タブレット端末やいわゆるフィーチャーフォン(旧型)が一時金の算定で考慮されていない点についても本裁判所は批判した [46] 。最後に、本裁判所は、過去の(2016年から2020年までの)売上をロイヤルティの計算から除外することにも不満を示した [47] 。本裁判所は、長年にわたる侵害及び契約締結拒否の後、TCTがPhillipsから過去の販売について「無償のライセンス」を付与されることは当然期待できないとの見解を示した [47]
 

SEP保有者の申出

適切な「ライセンスの要請」が存在せず、TCTはFRANDライセンスを取得する「一般的な意思」を欠いていることから、本裁判所はPhilipsがTCTに申出を提示する義務はなかったと判断した [48] 。上記に伴い、本裁判所は2017年4月以降に行われたVia Licensingのプールライセンスに関する申出のFRAND適合性を検討する必要はないと判断した [48]
 

  • [9] 国際標準化機構(ISO)及び国際電気標準会議(IEC)。
  • [10] Philips対TCT、デュッセルドルフ地方裁判所、2021年5月11日付判決、事件番号: 4b O 83/19
  • [11] Philips対TCT、デュッセルドルフ高等裁判所、2022年5月12日付判決、事件番号: 2 U 13/21
  • [12] 同判決、第168-250節。本裁判所は、ドイツ連邦特許裁判所(Bundespatentgericht)により確定された特許請求範囲の修正文言に依拠した。 第5節、第164節以下、及び第249節。
  • [13] 同判決、第252節以下。
  • [14] 同判決、第254節以下。
  • [15] 同判決、第257節。
  • [16] 同判決、第 258節。
  • [17] 同判決、第261節。
  • [18] 同判決、第263節。
  • [19] 同判決、第265節。
  • [20] 同判決、第269節以下。
  • [21] 同判決、第273節。本裁判所は、交渉前又は交渉開始時に行われた特許保有者の申出は、たとえ基本的な条件が不公平又は差別的であっても、当事者間でそれらが合意された場合には、原則として、それ自体で市場支配力の濫用になることはないと指摘した。第274節。
  • [22] 同判決、第278節。
  • [23] 同判決、第276節。
  • [24] 同判決、第338節。
  • [25] 同判決、第339節。
  • [26] 同判決、第280節。
  • [27] 同判決、第282節。
  • [28] 同判決、第284節。
  • [29] 同判決、第286節。
  • [30] 同判決、第286節及び第288節以下。
  • [31] 同判決、第288節。
  • [32] 同判決、第290節及び第339節。
  • [33] 同判決、第292節以下。
  • [34] 同判決、第294節。
  • [35] 同判決、第296節以下。
  • [36] 同判決、第296節。
  • [37] 同判決、第299節。
  • [38] 同判決、第298-300節。
  • [39] 同判決、第302節。
  • [40] 同判決、第310節。
  • [41] 同判決、第312節。
  • [42] 同判決、第318節及び第333節。
  • [43] 同判決、第320節。
  • [44] 同判決、第322節。
  • [45] 同判決、第326節。
  • [46] 同判決、第327節。
  • [47] 同判決、第329節。
  • [48] 同判決、第335節。


Cases from OLG Karlsruhe - Higher Regional Court


Saint Lawrence v Deutsche Telekom

23 4月 2015 - Case No. 6 U 44/15

A. Background

1. Facts

The proceedings related to the defendant’s application to the Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe for a stay of execution of the decision of the District Court of Mannheim (Case No. 2 O 103/14, 10 March 2015). The background was the alleged infringement of patent EP 1.125.276.B1, which covered technology for coding broadband signals which is essential for the ETSI AMR-WB standard.

The defendant was a major German telecommunications company (Deutsche Telekom). Intervenor 1 and intervenor 2 were smartphone manufacturers (HTC and others) whose products used the AMR-WB standard. These phones were supplied to the defendant and then sold to consumers as part of the defendant’s contract plans. [1] The claimant, a German non-practicing entity, Saint Lawrence, became owner of the respective SEP in August 2014. [2] The previous owner of the SEP had declared its willingness to grant licenses on FRAND conditions several times. [3] The defendant had shown no interest in such a license. [3] After commencing infringement proceedings in the District Court of Mannheim, the claimant contacted intervenor 2 for the first time. Intervenor 2 signed a confidentiality agreement on 23 February 2015, rejected an initial offer made by the claimant, and made a counter offer. On 25 March 2015 (after the decision of the District Court of Mannheim), the claimant made another offer, which intervenor 2 also rejected.

2. Ensuing Decisions

On 10 March 2015, the District Court of Mannheim granted an injunction. Inter alia, it held that the defendant had not attempted to enter into negotiations for a license. [3] In particular, the court considered it irrelevant that intervenor 2 might have demonstrated its willingness to enter into a license on FRAND conditions. In the eyes of the court, the relevant issue was whether the claimant had a right to demand an injunction to stop the defendant using the patent. Even if an intervenor could successfully raise a competition law based defence relying on the Federal Court of Justice decision Orange Book Standard, [4] this was of no relevance for the relationship between the claimant and the defendant. [5]

The defendant and intervenor 1 applied to the Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe to stay the execution of the District Court decision. Under the German rules of civil procedure, the Higher Regional Court can grant a stay of execution only if an appeal is pending and it is probable that the challenged decision will be overturned on the basis that it appears manifestly erroneous. [6] Alternatively, the Higher Regional Court can grant a stay of execution if the defendant can prove that the execution would cause particularly severe harm beyond the usual effects of an execution. [6]

The Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe granted the defendant’s application to stay the execution regarding the smartphones manufactured by intervenor 2, but dismissed the application made by intervenor 1. [7] It held that it would be sufficient for a successful competition law based defence that an intervenor is willing to enter into a license agreement. [8] Since the District Court of Mannheim had dismissed the intervenors’ willingness as irrelevant for the case, the resulting decision was manifestly erroneous. [8] Significantly, the Higher Regional Court required the defendant to make a deposit of EUR 5 million into the court to safeguard the claimant’s financial interests.

B. Court’s Reasoning

Importantly, the decision was handed down in April 2015 and thus several months prior to the CJEU Huawei/ZTE ruling. The Higher Regional Court stated that the final opinion of Advocate General Wathelet [9] was the legal basis of its decision. [10]

The Higher Regional Court reasoned that a patent holder could seek injunction orders against any business in the supply chain of the product that infringes the respective SEP – which includes manufacturers (such as the intervenors) and distributors (such as the defendant). In principle, according to the Federal Court of Justice decision Tripp-Trapp-Stuhl,Federal Court of Justice, 14 May 2009, Case No. I ZR 98/06. the decision against whom to bring proceedings lies with the patent holder. [12] However, according to the Higher Regional Court, this was not the issue in this case. The issue was whether the patent holder was abusing its dominant market position by commencing proceedings against the defendant. The only relevant question is whether this is conduct that deviates from ‘normal’ competition behaviour, being detrimental to consumer interests. If the SEP holder has made a FRAND declaration in the past and is typically entering into license agreements with manufacturers, then the court could see no objective reason why the SEP holder would only bring proceedings against the distributor. [12] In contrast, there is a reasonable expectation that the SEP holder makes an offer to the manufacturer of the relevant product first. Bringing proceedings against distributors would put significant pressure on the manufacturer. This can distort the license negotiation because distributors will have little interest in legal arguments with patent holders. If a patent holder is a dominant undertaking, exerting such pressure constitutes an abuse of market power. [12] In addition, bringing proceedings against distributors whilst granting licenses to manufacturers in other cases is inconsistent behaviour. [12]

C. Other Important Issues

The Higher Regional Court pointed out that the claimant was a non-practising entity. Accordingly, by exercising its patent rights it is not protecting its own market share in the market for smartphones. [13] In contrast, it is in the claimant’s objective interest that as many mobile phones using its SEP from numerous manufacturers are present in this market. Moreover, it is unlikely that a stay of execution would jeopardise the claimant’s financial interests. A deposit made by the defendant into the court should be a sufficient safeguard. [13] On the other hand, an execution of the decision at first instance would cause considerable harm to the defendant. As a telecommunications company, the defendant relies on a comprehensive portfolio of mobile phones that it can offer to consumers. [14] Removing the devices manufactured by intervenor 2 from the portfolio would be a significant blow to the defendant’s core business. Moreover, a removal would also be detrimental for intervenor 2 because a major distribution channel for its smartphones would become inaccessible. [15] As a result, the defendant’s interest in staying the execution outweigh the interests of the claimant.

  • [1] OLG Karlsruhe, 23 April 2015, 6 U 44/15, para 2.
  • [2] Landgericht Mannheim, 10 March 2015, 2 O 103/14, para 27.
  • [3] OLG Karlsruhe, 23 April 2015, 6 U 44/15, para 3.
  • [4] Bundesgerichtshof, 6 May 2015, KZR 39/06.
  • [5] OLG Karlsruhe, 23 April 2015, 6 U 44/15, para 6.
  • [6] OLG Karlsruhe, 23 April 2015, 6 U 44/15, para 17.
  • [7] OLG Karlsruhe, 8 September 2016, 6 U 58/16, para 38. After lodging the application, the claimant and intervenor 1 had reached a settlement agreement. As a result, intervenor 1 had withdrawn its appeal to the Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe. Thus, in the eyes of the court, no stay of execution was required.
  • [8] OLG Karlsruhe, 23 April 2015, 6 U 44/15, para 19.
  • [9] GA Wathelet, 20 November 2014, C-170/13.
  • [10] OLG Karlsruhe, 23 April 2015, 6 U 44/15, para 20.
  • [11] Federal Court of Justice, 14 May 2009, Case No. I ZR 98/06.
  • [12] OLG Karlsruhe, 23 April 2015, 6 U 44/15, para 21.
  • [13] OLG Karlsruhe, 23 April 2015, 6 U 44/15, para 25.
  • [14] OLG Karlsruhe, 23 April 2015, 6 U 44/15, para 26.
  • [15] OLG Karlsruhe, 23 April 2015, 6 U 44/15, para 27.


Pioneer v Acer

31 5月 2016 - Case No. 6 U 55/16

  1. Facts
    The proceedings concerned the subsequent application of Defendant in Case No. 7 O 96/14 seeking to suspend the execution of the district court’s decision until the appellate court has decided on the merits of an appeal brought by Defendant. The facts underlying the two decisions are therefore the same: Claimant owns the patent EP 1 267348, allegedly essential to the DVD standard and administered with regard to its licensing by the patent pool “A”. Early in 2013 “A” and the Defendant’s group parent were in contact regarding “A” ’s DVD licensing activity, but no concrete notice of infringement was made and no licensing negotiations ensued. After having been sued for patent infringement Defendant submitted, on 6 October 2014, an offer to license the patent-in-suit for Germany at FRAND conditions, with the exact royalty rate to be determined by Claimant pursuant to § 315 German Civil Code. Furthermore, Defendant declared to be willing to negotiate a portfolio license for all German patents of Claimant and, in case the negotiations were to fail, to have the licensing conditions determined by a state court or arbitration tribunal. In order to indicate what Defendant considered to be a FRAND royalty rate Defendant submitted an expert opinion. As of 28 November 2014, Claimant proposed to modify the conditions to the effect that Defendant’s group parent was supposed to take a worldwide portfolio license comprising all Claimant’s portfolio patents administered by “A”. Claimant made a (perhaps: additional) FRAND declaration with regard to the patent and informed Defendant thereof in December 2014. After Defendant had rejected this offer, Claimant offered, on 13 March and 13 April 2015, a worldwide portfolio license to Defendant’s group parent company. To the offer were added claim charts for two pool patents, as well as information on how Claimant deduced the royalty from the overall royalty rates of the “A”-patent pool. On 5 May 2015, Defendant’s group parent requested claim charts regarding all patents to be licensed as well as further information on royalty calculation. Claimant sent, on 7 August 2015, claim charts for five additional patents declaring its willingness to provide further information as soon as constructive technical discussions would be taken up. In a filing to the court as of 20 November 2015, Claimant explained its royalty calculation in greater detail and submitted an expert opinion on the issue.
    Due to the specific nature of the proceedings, the standard of review was limited to a summary examination of the decision rendered by the court of first instance. The court of appeal can suspend execution only if it comes to the conclusion that the challenged decision will probably not be upheld in second instance because it appears manifestly erroneous.
  2. Court’s reasoning
    1. Applicability of Huawei to transitory cases
      The court tentatively confirms that, in transitory cases, it is sufficient if the SEP proprietor fulfills its Huawei duties by way of the statement of claims or even after the lawsuit was initiated. [1] As to the reasons for this finding, the court is not convinced by the considerations of the lower court (cf. above LG Mannheim, 8 January 2016 - 7 O 96/14), in particular because the ECJ has not stated that actions for infringement brought prior to the Huawei decision had to comply only with the Orange Book rules of conduct and not the Huawei rules. [2] However, according to the Court, the Huawei decision deals only with the abusive bringing of an action for SEP infringement, not with the question whether such action remains abusive even after the SEP proprietor has fulfilled its conduct obligations under Huawei. [3] It appears possible that, at least in transitory cases, the continuation of an infringement action is no longer abusive where the statement of claims provided sufficient notice of the infringement, where the SEP proprietor made a Huawei-compliant licensing offer during the ongoing litigation, and where the standard implementer failed to appropriately react to this offer. Hence, the lower court’s finding on that issue was not considered manifestly erroneous.
    2. Standard of review for licensing offers
      The court did, however, find the lower court’s ruling to be manifestly erroneous with regard to the standard of review it had postulated for the SEP proprietor’s licensing offer: [4] As stated clearly by the ECJ, the SEP proprietor has to make a licensing offer that qualifies as FRAND—not, for instance, slightly above FRAND—and it is for the respective court to assess the FRAND quality of the offer. A reduced standard of review, consisting merely in a summary assessment of whether the offer is evidently non-FRAND, has no basis in Huawei. Even if the SEP proprietor were to be granted much leeway in determining the licensing conditions—a question which the court reserves for its decision on the merits of the appeal—the conditions would still have to remain within the FRAND range. Since the lower court’s conclusion that Claimant had complied with the Huawei rules of conduct while Defendant had violated them was reached by applying the reduced standard of review the court decided to partly [5] suspend the enforcement of the first instance-ruling.
  • [1] Case No. 6 U 55/16, para. 24-28
  • [2] Case No. 6 U 55/16, para. 26
  • [3] Case No. 6 U 55/16, para. 27
  • [4] Case No. 6 U 55/16, para. 29-36
  • [5] The reasons why the Court limited the suspension to the recall and destruction of infringing products are of no interest here, cf. OLG Karlsruhe, 31 May 2016 – Case No. 6 U 55/16, para. 37 et seq.


Philips v Acer

29 8月 2016 - Case No. 6 U 57/16

  1. Facts
    1. Decision First Instance
      The proceedings related to the defendant’s application to the Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe for a stay of execution of the decision of the District Court of Mannheim (Case No. 7 O 23/14). This case first instance concerned the infringement of the patent EP 0.745.307.B3, which covered a technology for subtitles in the DVD standard. The defendant marketed computers that use a DVD-software. The claimant, which commercialised the patent in question through a patent pool, [49] had made a FRAND-declaration to the “DVD-Forum” which administers the DVD standard. [50]
      On 30 May 2014, the defendant offered to enter into a license agreement for patent in question and respective products marketed in Germany. The license fees were based on an expert opinion which the defendant had commissioned. Alternatively, the defendant suggested that the license fees could be determined by the claimant in good faith pursuant to sec 315 of the German Civil Code. [51] The defendant made a deposit with the Düsseldorf Magistrates Court which covered use of the patent in Germany and rendered account to the claimant. On 25 July 2014, the claimant sent an amended counter-offer, which was rejected by the defendant. [52] On 13 March 2015, the claimant made another license offer for a world-wide portfolio license, giving details about the calculation of the license fee. [53] The defendant requested claim charts and rejected the calculation details as insufficient. [54]
      The District Court of Mannheim ordered the defendant to render full and detailed account of its sales (including all parties involved, the respective advertisements, all costs and profits) [55] to calculate the amount of compensation it owed. [56]
    2. The Ensuing Application for Stay of Execution
      Under the German rules of civil procedure, the Higher Regional Court can only grant a stay of execution if an appeal is pending and it is probable that the challenged decision will be overturned because it appears manifestly erroneous. [57] Alternatively, the Higher Regional Court can grant a stay of execution if the defendant (now: the applicant) can prove that the execution would cause particularly severe harm beyond the usual effects of an execution. [57]
      The applicant sought to stay the execution of the order of the District Court of Mannheim, [58] which required it to render full account. Instead, the applicant contended that it was only necessary to render information required to calculate the amount of compensation owed via license analogy (i.e. time of sale and number of units sold). [59] The Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe dismissed the application. [57] It held that the decision of the District Court of Mannheim was not manifestly erroneous. Further, the applicant had not provided sufficient evidence that particularly severe harm would be caused if the decision of the District Court of Mannheim were executed. [60]
  2. Court’s reasoning

      Most aspects of the decision do not directly relate to the Huawei ruling. However, the court held that the decision of the District Court of Mannheim was not manifestly erroneous in ordering the applicant to render accounts in full detail. It held that the District Court of Mannheim had correctly decided that the Huawei ruling did not contain any restrictions of the SEP holder’s information claims. [61] In the eyes of the District Court of Mannheim, the CJEU had not referred to means of calculating the amount of compensation owed - it had only clarified that Art. 102 TFEU does not prevent the SEP owner from demanding the alleged infringer to render accounts for use of the patent in the past. [61] Accordingly, the District Court of Mannheim considered that competition law, and in particular, the existence of a FRAND declaration, are not relevant considerations for compensation and information claims. [62] In the eyes of the court, this view is not manifestly erroneous.
  3. Other important issues
    The claimant commercialised the patent in question through a patent pool. This fact itself, according to the court, does not mean that the applicant’s interests outweigh the interests of the claimant. [63] In the past, the court had given special consideration to whether the claimant’s interests were primarily focused on receiving royalties (Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe, 23 April 2015, Case No. 6 U 44/15; Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe, 31 May 2016, Case No. 6 U 55/16). However, the court reasoned, in contrast to the case at issue, that the aforementioned decisions had concerned cases in which it was likely that the decision at first instance would not be upheld on appeal. [63]
    The court held that the decision at first instance was not manifestly erroneous in its interpretation of Art. 101 TFEU (anticompetitive conduct). The District Court of Mannheim had been of the opinion that an alleged breach of Art. 101 TFEU could not be raised as a defence in patent infringement proceedings. [64] If a standardisation agreement breached Art. 101 TFEU, the standard would be void. The Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe confirmed that it had not yet been decided by the higher courts if the commencement of patent infringement proceedings by an SEP holder constituted a breach of Art. 101 TFEU. However, even if that were the case, this defence would only be relevant against injunctions, but not in respect of compensation and rendering accounts claims. [65]
  • [49] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 5
  • [50] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 8
  • [51] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 10
  • [52] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 11
  • [53] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 12
  • [54] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 13
  • [55] Case No. 6 U 57/16, paras 15-19
  • [56] The decision omits further details on the decision first instance because they are not relevant for the application, see OLG Karlsruhe, 29 August 2016, Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 14
  • [57] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 25
  • [58] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 23
  • [59] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 23, 31
  • [60] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 26
  • [61] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 31
  • [62] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 32, 33
  • [63] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 43
  • [64] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 28
  • [65] Case No. 6 U 57/16, para 30


OLG Karlsruhe

8 9月 2016 - Case No. 6 U 58/16

  1. Facts
    1. Decision First Instance
      The proceedings related to the defendant’s application to the Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe for a stay of execution of the decision of the District Court of Mannheim (Case No. 7 O 23/14). Case No. 7 O 23/14 related to the infringement of patent EP 0.734.181.B1, which covered technology for decoding video signals in the DVD standard. The defendant was a German subsidiary of a Taiwanese electronics company. It sold computers that used a DVD-software. The claimant, a Japanese electronics company, commercialised the patent in question through a patent pool. [1] In early 2013, the patent pool approached the defendant’s mother company about the use of the patent, but without making a license offer. [2]
      On 30 May 2014, the defendant offered a license agreement for the respective German patent. The defendant indicated that it was willing to enter into negotiations for a portfolio license for the claimant’s German patents. It was also willing to have a third party determine the royalties owed. [2] On 25 July 2014, the claimant suggested to change the license offer to a world-wide portfolio license. The defendant rejected and informed the claimant on 22 August 2014 of the number of respective computers they put into circulation between July 2013 and June 2014 in Germany. It also made a deposit of EUR 12.972,- with the Düsseldorf Magistrates Court.
      On 13 March 2015, the claimant made another offer for a world-wide portfolio license. On 5 May 2015, the defendant requested the relevant claim charts and further details on how the license fees had been calculated. On 25 June 2015, the claimant sent the claim charts but refused to elaborate on the calculation method. Instead, the claimant suggested a meeting in which it would answer further questions. The defendant responded on 13 July 2015 that most of the claim charts lacked necessary details. In a meeting between the claimant and the defendant’s mother company on 3 September the parties were unable to come to a conclusion.
      The District Court of Mannheim granted an injunction order on 4 March 2016. [3] It held that the defendant was liable for compensation [4] and ordered it to render full and detailed account of its sales (including all parties involved, the respective advertisements, all costs and profits) [5] to calculate the amount of compensation it owed. Further, the District Court ordered a recall and removal of all infringing products from the relevant distribution channels. [6]
    2. The Ensuing Application for Stay Proceedings
      Under the German rules of civil procedure, the Higher Regional Court can grant a stay of execution only if an appeal is pending and it is probable that the challenged decision will be overturned because it appears manifestly erroneous. [7] Alternatively, the Higher Regional Court can grant a stay of execution if the defendant (now: the applicant) can prove that the execution would cause particularly severe harm beyond the usual effects of an execution. [7]
      The applicant sought to stay the execution of two elements of the resulting court order. [8] First, the applicant challenged the order to render full account. It contended that it was only necessary to render information required to calculate the amount of compensation owed via license analogy (i.e. time of sale and number of units sold). [9] Secondly, the applicant contended that the recall order was based on the District Court’s summary assessment of the offered license conditions, which was an insufficient standard of review. [10]
      The Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe granted the application to stay the execution in respect of the order to the recall of products. [11] However, it dismissed the application in respect of the order to render accounts because the decision of the District Court of Mannheim was not manifestly erroneous. [11]
  2. Court’s reasoning
    1. SEP Owner’s Licensing Offer
      Regarding the order to recall and remove the infringing products, the Higher Regional Court held that the District Court’s interpretation of the Huawei ruling in respect of the SEP owner’s license offer was manifestly erroneous. The Higher Regional Court reiterated its view that the Huawei ruling required a full review of the conditions of the license (see the previous decision of the Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe, 31 May 2016, Case No. 6 U 55/16). A reduced standard of review as applied by the District Court was not in line with the fundamentals of the Huawei ruling. The CJEU had held that the SEP owner’s refusal to grant a license on FRAND terms is the main reason why an injunction cannot be granted by an infringement court. Accordingly, the Higher Regional Court reasoned that any arguments raised by the applicant as to why an offer is not FRAND needs to be taken into consideration by the court. This requires a full review of the license offer and not just a summary review as to whether the offer is not obviously non-FRAND. [12] However, the Higher Regional Court conceded that the SEP owner has a wide discretion in determining the FRAND conditions because there might be a number of different license conditions that are FRAND. [13]
    2. Rendering Accounts and Compensation Claims
      Regarding the order to render accounts, the Higher Regional Court held that the decision of the District Court was not manifestly erroneous. The CJEU had reasoned that a court order to render accounts does not have implications as to whether products enter the market or can stay on the market. Thus, the Higher Regional Court concluded that a claim to render accounts cannot be abusive under Art. 102 TFEU. [14] Further, the Huawei ruling did not contain any restrictions in respect of the SEP holder’s information claims. [15] The Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe confirmed that it had not yet been decided by the higher courts how the amount of compensation owed is exactly calculated (and accordingly, what information the infringer must disclose to enable the SEP holder to carry out this calculation). [16] Accordingly, the order to render accounts in full detail (thus enabling the claimant to calculate the compensation owed in different ways) was not erroneous.
  3. Other Important Issues
      The Higher Regional Court held that the District Court’s interpretation of Art. 101 TFEU (anticompetitive conduct) was not manifestly erroneous. The District Court of Mannheim had been of the opinion that an alleged breach of Art. 101 TFEU could not be raised as a defence in patent infringement proceedings. [17] The Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe confirmed that it had not yet been decided by the higher courts whether the commencement of patent infringement proceedings by an SEP holder constituted a breach of Art. 101 TFEU. However, even if the commencement did constitute a breach, this defence would only be relevant against injunctions, but not in respect of compensation and rendering of accounts claims. [18]
      In relation to the order to render accounts, the Higher Regional Court acknowledged that the information that is required for calculating the amount of compensation will generally be a trade secret. [19] It is in the applicant’s legitimate interest to keep them secret. However, the court held that this interest alone does not constitute an irreversible detriment that is so severe that the execution of the court order needs to be stayed. [19]
  • [1] 6 U 58/16, para 6
  • [2] 6 U 58/16, para 7
  • [3] 6 U 58/16, para 12-17
  • [4] 6 U 58/16, para 25
  • [5] 6 U 58/16, para 18-24
  • [6] 6 U 58/16, para 26-28
  • [7] 6 U 58/16, para 39
  • [8] 6 U 58/16, para 33
  • [9] 6 U 58/16, para 45
  • [10] 6 U 58/16, para 35
  • [11] 6 U 58/16, para 38
  • [12] 6 U 58/16, para 51
  • [13] 6 U 58/16, para 52
  • [14] 6 U 58/16, para 62
  • [15] 6 U 58/16, para 63
  • [16] 6 U 58/16, para 63-64
  • [17] 6 U 58/16, para 59-60
  • [18] 6 U 58/16, para 61
  • [19] 6 U 58/16, para 67


Philips v Wiko

30 10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 [1] , 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 [2] , 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 [3] .

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 [4] . 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 [5] (Huawei framework or obligations) [6] .

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 [7] . 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’ [7] . 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 [7] .

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 [8] . 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 [9] . 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 [10] .

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 [11] . 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 [11] .

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 [12] . For this, the patent holder must use procedural tools available under German law, particularly a motion for suspension of the trial [12] . 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 [12] . In case such a motion is filed, the Court expects that a ‘willing’ implementer will consent to a suspension of the proceedings [12] .

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 [13] . 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 [14] . 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 [14] . 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 [14] .

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 [15] . 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 [16] . 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 [16] . 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 [16] .

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 [17] .

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 [18] . 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 [18] . Delaying tactics potentially applied by the implementer must be prevented [18] . 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 [19] . 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 [19] .

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 [20] .

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 [21] . This duty exists besides the patent holder’s duty to make a FRAND licensing offer to the implementer [22] .

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 [23] . The extent of the information to be shared depends on the circumstances of the specific ‘licensing situation’ [23] .

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 [24] .

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 [24] .

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 [24] . 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 [24] . 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 [24] .

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 [24] . Furthermore, the SEP holder would need to facilitate the conclusion of a Non-Disclosure Agreement which would allow sharing further information with the implementer [24] .

Based on the above considerations, the Court found that Philips had not fulfilled its information duty at any time [25] . 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 [26] . 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 [27] .

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 [28] . In this respect, the Court seemed to agree, however, with the notion that FRAND is a range providing parties with a degree of flexibility [29] .

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 [30] .

Such a right does not arise either from German civil law (Articles 809 and 810 German Civil Code) [30] or Article 102 TFEU [31] . Furthermore, a right for disclosure of comparable agreement can neither be extracted by the SEP holder’s FRAND commitment to ETSI [32] . 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 [33] .

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 [34] . 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 [35] . This is particularly true with respect to SEP holder’s claim to request information about expenses and profits from the implementer5 [36] .

  • [1] Philips v Wiko, District Court (Landgericht) of Mannheim, judgment dated 25 November 2016, Case No. 7 O 44/16.
  • [2] 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.
  • [3] Ibid, paras. 37-87.
  • [4] Ibid, para. 88.
  • [5] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C 170/13.
  • [6] Philips v Wiko, Higher District Court of Mannheim, judgment dated 25 November 2016, para. 108.
  • [7] Ibid, para. 107.
  • [8] Ibid, paras. 117 et seqq.
  • [9] Ibid, para. 119.
  • [10] Ibid, paras. 120 et seq.
  • [11] Ibid, para. 120.
  • [12] Ibid, para. 125.
  • [13] Ibid, para. 126.
  • [14] Ibid, para. 127.
  • [15] Ibid, para. 111.
  • [16] Ibid, para. 112.
  • [17] Ibid, paras. 115 and 117.
  • [18] Ibid, para. 115.
  • [19] Ibid, para. 129.
  • [20] Ibid, paras. 131 et seqq.
  • [21] Ibid, paras. 132 et seq.
  • [22] Ibid, para. 135.
  • [23] Ibid, para. 133.
  • [24] Ibid, para. 134.
  • [25] Ibid, paras. 136 et seqq.
  • [26] Ibid, para. 136.
  • [27] Ibid, para. 138.
  • [28] Ibid, para. 131.
  • [29] Ibid, para. 106.
  • [30] Ibid, paras. 157 et seqq.
  • [31] Ibid, paras. 162 et seqq.
  • [32] Ibid, paras. 160 et seq.
  • [33] Ibid, para. 161.
  • [34] Ibid, para. 143.
  • [35] Ibid, para. 144.
  • [36] Ibid, paras. 145 et seqq.


Sisvel v Wiko

9 12月 2020 - Case No. 6 U 103/19

A. Facts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.Ibid, para. 289.

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.Ibid, paras. 284 et seqq. Whether claims were given before the expiration of the patent-in-suit is of particular importance, especially when the patent holder has enforced a (first-instance) judgment delivered in proceedings conducted within the term of protection of the patent, as it was the case here. [6]
 

Dominant market position

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

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.Ibid, paras. 292 et seqq. 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.Ibid, para. 293. In terms of content, the notification must identify the patent infringed, the form of infringement and also designate the infringing embodiments.Ibid, para. 293. Detailed technical or legal analysis of the infringement allegation is not required.Ibid, para. 293. The production of so-called 'claim charts', which is common in practice, will, as a rule, suffice, but is not mandatory.Ibid, para. 293. If the patent holder offers a portfolio licence, respective extended information duties occur.Ibid, para. 293.

In the present case, it was not disputed that Sisvel had notified Wiko about the patent-in-suit prior to litigation.Ibid, para. 297. As far as Wiko complained that no claim charts were presented before trial, the Court reiterated that no respective obligation of Sisvel existed.Ibid, paras. 297 et seq. 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.Ibid, para. 297.
 

Willingness to obtain a licence

The Court then found that Wiko behaved as an unwilling (potential) licensee both prior and during the infringement proceedingsIbid, para. 299.. 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.Ibid, para. 299 and paras. 320 et seqq.

According to the Court, the 'expression of a general willingness to license' is not sufficient for assuming that an implementer is a 'willing licensee'.Ibid, para. 301. Moreover, the implementer must 'clearly and unambiguously' declare willingness to conclude a license agreement on FRAND terms, 'whatever FRAND terms may actually look like"Ibid, para. 301.. The respective declaration must be 'serious and unconditional'.Ibid, para. 301.

The Court highlighted that for the assessment of willingness the overall facts and the particular conduct of the implementer shall be taken into account.Ibid, para. 301. Willingness is not 'static': the finding that an implementer was willing (or unwilling) at a certain moment in time does not remain unchanged henceforth.Ibid, para. 301.

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.Ibid, para. 302. 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.Ibid, para. 303. 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.Ibid, para. 303.

In the view of the Court, the above requirements are in line with the Huawei v ZTE judgment (Huawei judgment or Huawei) [17] of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU).Sisvel v Wiko, Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe, judgment dated 9 December 2020, para. 304. 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.Ibid, para. 304.

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.Ibid, para. 305. Such behaviour could be justified in individual cases, especially when the SEP holder does not act in a 'target-oriented' manner itself.Ibid, para. 305. Nevertheless, implementers must, as a rule, react timely even to a belated action of the SEP holder.Ibid, para. 305. 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.Ibid, para. 305.

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.Ibid, paras. 321 et seqq. A willing implementer would have, however, sought a licence independently of the initiation of legal steps and independently of the course of litigation.Ibid, para. 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.Ibid, para. 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).Ibid, paras. 323 et seq.

The Court identified also further facts that indicate that Wiko engaged in delaying tactics.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). 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)Ibid, paras. 325, 328 and 331.. It also demanded further claim charts in February 2018, years after the action was filed. [27]

Wiko's refusal to sign the NDA offered by Sisvel -despite multiple reminders of the latter- without providing any reasons was also considered as a sign of unwillingness.Ibid, paras. 333 et seqq. 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.Ibid, paras. 334 and 338. 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.Ibid, paras. 337 and 341 et seqq.

Furthermore, the Court clarified that -contrary to Wiko's view- school holidays and/or staff shortages cannot provide sufficient justification for delays in negotiations.Ibid, para. 330. Even if such circumstances occur, a willing implementer would have communicated any obstacles immediately.Ibid, para. 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.Ibid, para. 342. In fact, no such duty had arisen in the present case, due to Wiko's unwillingness to obtain a licence.Ibid, para. 342. 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.Ibid, para. 307. 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 caseIbid, para. 307.; indeed, parties are best situated to determine the exact content of FRAND in a specific setting.Ibid, para. 307.

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'.Ibid, para. 308. 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.Ibid, paras. 308 and 310. 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.Ibid, para. 309.

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.Ibid, para. 310. The SEP holder's FRAND commitment does not give rise to such obligation.Ibid, para. 310. 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.Ibid, para. 310. 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.Ibid, paras. 311 et seqq.

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.Ibid, paras. 311 et seqq. 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.Ibid, paras. 311 and 313 et seqq. 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.Ibid, paras. 316 et seqq.

Against this background, the Court found that none of the offers made to Wiko during the infringement proceedings was 'clearly and evidently' non-FRAND.Ibid, para. 352. 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.Ibid, para. 353. 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.Ibid, paras. 354 et seqq. 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.Ibid, para. 358.

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.Ibid, para. 359. On the other hand, Wiko had worldwide activities, so that a licence with a limited scope would not provide sufficient coverage.Ibid, para. 359.

The fact that some of the patents included in Sisvel's portfolio were -allegedly- not standard-essential did not render the offers 'un-FRAND'.Ibid, para. 360. 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.Ibid, para. 361. Implementers can reserve the right to challenge the validity and essentiality of affected patents even after the conclusion of a licensing agreement.Ibid, para. 361.

Similarly, the Court had no objections against a clause placing the burden of proof with regard to the exhaustion of licenced patents on Wiko.Ibid, para. 362. 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.Ibid, para. 363.

The question whether an adjustment clause is necessary for an offer to be considered FRAND was left unanswered by the Court.Ibid, paras. 365 et seqq. 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. Ibid, paras. 365 et seqq. The Court did not express any concerns against the term of the offered licence or the termination clauses contained therein, either.Ibid, paras. 367 et seqq.

Furthermore, the Court made clear that Sisvel had adequately elaborated the licensing rates offered to Wiko.Ibid, para. 366. In the infringement proceedings, Sisvel responded to the 'top-down' calculation of Wiko in detail and made relevant clarifications.Ibid, para. 344. 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.Ibid, para. 346.
 

Implementers' counteroffer

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

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

Having said that, the Court took the view that the royalty rates which Wiko offered were very low and, thus, not FRAND-compliant.Ibid, paras. 379 et seqq. 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.Ibid, para. 380. 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.Ibid, para. 378. 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.Ibid, para. 384.
 

C. Other important issues

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

Apart from that, the Court confirmed that Wiko had no legal ground for requesting full disclosure of Sisvel's third party agreementsIbid, para. 389.. 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.Ibid, paras. 389 et seq. 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.Ibid, para. 391.

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.Ibid, paras. 260 et seqq.

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 DaimlerNokia v Daimler, District Court of Düsseldorf, order dated 26 November 2020, Case No. 4c O 17/19..Sisvel v Wiko, Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe, judgment dated 9 December 2020, para. 395. 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.Ibid, para. 395.
 

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


IP Bridge v TCT

2 2月 2022 - Case No. 6 U 149/20

A. 事実

原告であるIP Bridgeは、係争特許について、欧州電気通信標準化機構(ETSI)が開発した4G/LTE携帯電話規格への対応に必須である(と見込まれる)特許であると宣言している。ETSIは特許保有者に対し、公平、合理的、かつ非差別的(FRAND)な条件で標準必須特許(SEP)を規格利用者に提供することを誓約するよう求めている。

被告は、中国に本社を置くTCTグループ(TCT)の親会社とドイツの関係会社である。TCTは、ドイツを含む全世界で4G対応携帯電話を流通及び販売している。

2014年12月15日、IP Bridgeは、TCTグループの親会社(親会社)に対して、SEPポートフォリオに関する通知を行った。当該書簡では、2つの米国特許(ただし(ドイツの)係争特許ではない)が例示的に言及されていた。TCTは回答しなかった。IP Bridgeは2015年1月と4月に親会社に催促状を送ったが、この時も回答はなかった。これらの催促状でも、係争特許については言及されなかった。

2015年7月、IP Bridgeは米国でTCTグループの企業を相手に侵害訴訟を提起した(米国訴訟)。

2016年2月1日、IP Bridgeは親会社に(最初の)ライセンス申出書を送付した。申出書には、係争特許を含む特許の一覧が添付された。IP Bridgeは、(他のポートフォリオ特許に言及した追加クレームチャートと共に)係争特許に関するクレームチャートも提供した。

2016年2月29日、IP BridgeはTCTを相手取り、マンハイム地方裁判所(本地方裁判所)に訴訟を提起した。 2016年3月11日、親会社はIP Bridgeに対し、米国訴訟において当事者が特許侵害と特許無効の主張をそれぞれ行った後に交渉を開始可能であると通知し、IP Bridgeのポートフォリオに関する詳細な情報を要求した。2016年3月22日、ドイツ訴訟でTCTの代理を務める法律顧問はIP Bridgeのライセンス申出を拒否したが、TCTは「それにかかわらず」FRAND条件でのライセンスを「交渉し締結する」意思があることを示唆した。

2017年5月19日、IP BridgeはTCTに再度(2度目となる)ライセンスの申出を行った。契約は締結されなかった。 2018年4月30日、IP Bridgeは申出を修正し再度TCTに(3度目となる)申出を提供した。IP Bridgeは、TCTに対して、ランニング・ロイヤルティと一括払いというふたつの選択肢を提示した。どちらの選択肢も、ロイヤルティはいわゆる「トップダウン」方式で決定された。TCTに提示された1ユニット当たりの価格は、2011年から2016年の期間における携帯電話のグローバルな業界全体の平均販売価格(ASP)を基に米ドルで計算された。TCTはこの提案も拒否した。

2018年8月7日、TCTはIP Bridgeからほぼ同じ内容の申出(4回目)を受けた。この申出も拒否された。

2019年5月、米国訴訟で勝訴して間もなく、IP BridgeはTCTにさらなる(5回目の)申出を行ったが、TCTは反応を示さなかった。

2019年10月、本地方裁判所は、その(予備的)見解によれば、2011年から2016年までの的なグローバルな業界全体のASPを将来の使用に対するロイヤルティの計算の基礎とすることはできないと当事者に伝達した。

2019年12月12日、IP Bridgeは修正された(6回目の)申出をTCTと共有した。この申出において、IP Bridgeは再び「トップダウン」方式及びグローバルな業界全体のASPに依拠している。これまでの申出とは異なり、ASPはライセンスが有効な各暦年について個別に決定されるべきとされた。TCTはこの申出を拒否した。

2020年1月31日、親会社はIP Bridgeに対し(初めて)カウンターオファーを行った。ロイヤルティがTCTの端末の実際のグローバル年間ASPに基づいて計算され、ロイヤルティ総額の負担が低く設定されたことを除けば、カウンターオファーは基本的にIP Bridgeが前回行った申出とほぼ同じであった。 2020年3月4日、IP BridgeはTCTに対し、特にTCTのカウンターオファーに記載の販売台数を考慮した修正(第7回)申出を行った。

2020年3月11日、TCTはIP Bridgeに対して、2020年1月31日の前回のカウンターオファーと同じロイヤルティ計算を基本とし若干修正した(2回目の)カウンターオファーを行った。2020年3月19日、IP Bridgeはこのカウンターオファーを拒絶した。2020年4月7日、TCTは銀行保証の形で過去の使用に対する担保を設定した。

2020年8月7日、IP BridgeはTCTにさらなる(8回目の)申出を行った。TCTはこの申出を拒否し、2020年8月18日にさらなる(3回目の)カウンターオファーをIP Bridgeに提出した。しかし、合意には至らなかった。

2020年8月21日、本地方裁判所は、IP Bridgeが主張した侵害製品の差止救済、リコール及び破棄の請求を棄却した。 [1] (引用:juris、サマリーはこちら) IP Bridgeは、カールスルーエ高等地方裁判所(本控訴裁判所)に控訴した。

本控訴裁判所は、本地方裁判所の判決を覆し、TCT社に対する差止請求を認め、侵害製品のリコール及び破棄を命じた。 [2] (引用:http://lrbw.juris.de/cgi-bin/laender_rechtsprechung/list.py?Gericht=bw&Art=en)

B. 判決理由

本控訴裁判所は、係争特許が侵害されているとの本地方裁判所の判断を支持した [3]

しかし、本控訴裁判所は、本地方裁判所とは対照的に、TCTは本件においていわゆる「FRAND」に基づく抗弁を行うことができないと判断した [4] 。TCTは、IP Bridgeが行った差止命令による救済及び侵害品のリコール・破棄の請求はEU機能条約(TFEU)第102条に違反し、市場支配的地位の濫用に当たると主張していた。

本控訴裁判所は、IP Bridgeが係争特許のライセンス市場において支配的地位を有するとした地方裁判所の見解に同意した [5] 。技術的な観点からすれば、当該規格に対応するためには当該特許を使用する必要がある。係争特許の教示に代わる技術的な代替手段の存在については、本件裁判において示されていない [5]

それにもかかわらず、本控訴裁判所は、IP Bridgeはその市場支配力を濫用していないとの見解を示した [6] 。IP BridgeがTCTに申し出た条件以外の条件で契約を結ぶ準備がなかったという事実は、TFEU第102条で定義される濫用を意味するものではない。TCTはそもそもFRANDライセンスに署名する意思を示していないからである [6]
 

侵害通知

本控訴裁判所は、IP Bridgeは2016年2月1日付の書簡により適切な侵害通知を行ったと判断した [7] 。それより前に(2014年及び2015年に)TCTに送られた書簡については、係争特許への明示的な言及を含んでいなかったため、不十分であると判断した [7]

差し当たり規格に対応するために必要なSEPが多数存在することを考慮すると、通知は特定の係争特許の侵害について侵害者の注意を喚起するものでなければならない [7] 。本控訴裁判所は、特許保有者は侵害申立てのメリットについて実施者が評価できるよう、実際的な及び地域的な観点から情報を絞り込む必要があると説明した [7] 。これらの要件は、係争特許について明示的に言及し、係争特許に関するクレームチャートを含む2016年2月1日の書簡によって初めて満たされた [7]
 

意思

本控訴裁判所は、本地方裁判所の見解とは異なり、TCTはライセンス取得の意思を十分に表明していなかったと判断した [8]

Sisvel対Haierのドイツ連邦最高裁判所(Bundesgerichtshof)の判例 [9] (Sisvel対Haierのサマリーはこちら、Sisvel対Haier IIのサマリーはこちら)を受け、本控訴裁判所は、事実上どのような条件であれFRANDでライセンスを取得する意思があることを「明確かつ曖昧さを残さず」宣言しなければならず、その後、「目的志向」でライセンス交渉に従事する必要があると説明した [10]

本控訴裁判所によれば、「意思」は「静的」な位置づけを有するものではない。そのため、実施者がある時点で意思を有していた(又は意思を有していなかった)という判断も、不変ではない [11] 。さらに、ライセンスを取得するための「継続的な意思」が必要とされる [11] 。実施者側にそのような「継続的な意思」が存在しない場合、SEP保有者がその市場支配力を濫用したという主張は「意味を欠いている」と考えられる [11]

本控訴裁判所は、「意思」の具体的で詳細な要件は「一般的な定義」の対象とはできないと説明した [12] 。ここで考慮すべき基準は、相互の利益に資する交渉の成功を目指す「合理的な当事者」が、この目的を達成するために具体的な交渉の段階でどのような行動をとるか、ということである [12] 。この点における評価については、ケースバイケースの分析が必要である [12] 。本控訴裁判所は、交渉の意思を表明すること自体はそれが文字通りの意味をもっていることを保証するものではなく、それどころか、実施者が用いる「遅延戦術」の一部となり得ることを指摘した [13] 。特許保有者及び実施者の競争者の双方の利益を守るために、「遅延戦術」は許容されない行為である [13]

実施者が遅延戦術を講じたか否かについては、侵害通知又はSEP保有者からライセンスの申出を受けた後の行動を考慮し、「客観的な基準」に基づいて評価されなければならない [14] 。「意思があり誠実な」実施者であれば、特許(又はポートフォリオ)が料金の支払を伴うことなく使用される期間を短縮するために、可能な限り早くライセンスに署名しようとすると考えられる [14] 。そのような実施者は、自己の義務を果たすために、むしろ特許保有者の行動を「促す」ものであり、侵害訴訟における自己の防御のためにSEP保有者の義務を利用することは考えないと思われる [14]

従って、本控訴裁判所は、実施者は特許保有者の「非FRAND」条件によるライセンス申出にさえ対応する義務があると判断した [15] 。SEPのライセンシングに典型的な「複雑な」状況においては、どのような条件が合理的であるかは通常明らかではない。このため、当事者の相互の利益を「明確化」し、あらゆる法的問題に対応するのは交渉の役割である [15] 。この考え方は、FRANDは「範囲」であり(幅があり)、SEP保有者は、一般的に、交渉において示唆が得られた場合のみ実施者の「正当な利益」を考慮できることを考えると、特に当てはまると言える [15] 。本控訴裁判所は、実施者は訴訟が開始されるまで待つのではなく、できる限り早く懸念を伝えるべきだと強調した [15]

この意味で本控訴裁判所は、SEP保有者の申出が「明らかに」FRANDに沿っていない場合でも、実施者は(依然として)交渉プロセスに関与する義務があると強調した [16] 。しかしながら、この場合は申出が「明らかに」FRANDでない理由を示せば十分である [16] 。実施者はSEP保有者との関係においてすべての関連事項に対処しなければならない [16] 。信義則に基づき、すべての未解決の問題が速やかに交渉のテーブルに乗せられなければならず、実施者はFRANDと矛盾する「明白な」一つの要素のみに焦点を当てることにより、同様に「非FRAND」と考える他の側面について沈黙を守ることはできない [16] 。この考え方は特に明白な側面、例えばロイヤルティ計算の基本的な構造に当てはまる [16]

例外的に、実施者は、SEP保有者の申出が(客観的な視点から)「真剣な意図がない」と仮定できる程度にFRAND原則と矛盾している場合には、対応する義務は全くない [17] 。しかしながら、この場合、申出の1つの条項のみが「明らかに」非FRANDであるだけでは通常は不十分であり、本控訴裁判所は、すべての関連する事実を考慮した「全体的な評価」を必要としている [17]

このような背景から、本控訴裁判所は、TCTにはFRANDライセンスに署名する意思がなかったと判断した [8] 。TCTはその用意があったと主張していたが、その後の行動は、当該表明が本気ではなく、TCTの意図は交渉及びライセンス締結の可能な限りの遅延にあったことを示している [8] 。本控訴裁判所の見解では、TCTの全体的な行動は、訴訟手続を遅らせることを目的とした純粋に戦術的な考慮に基づいており、受け取った申出に対して五月雨式に懸念を表明している [18]

本控訴裁判所は、TCTが2016年2月1日付の最初の申出と共に関連パラメーターに関する詳細なプレゼンテーションを受け、その後追加の情報を得たにもかかわらず、IP Bridgeが用いた基本ロイヤルティの計算について2018年4月30日付の(3回目の)ライセンス申出後に初めて批判したことに言及した [19] 。本控訴裁判所によれば、最初のライセンス申出から2年(以上)経過した後にロイヤルティ計算に対する懸念が生じたというのは合理性がない [20] 。2018年4月30日の(3回目の)申出において「トップダウン」アプローチが導入されたことは、(ASP、すべてのライセンシーに対する均一料率の適用といった)いくつかの計算パラメーターに変更がなかったことを考えると、交渉における新しい出発点とみなされるものではなかった [21] 。さらに、すべての新しい申出は、交渉を開始時点に「リセット」することはできず、意思の評価においてその時点までの実施者の行為を無関係とすることはできない [21]

さらに、TCTは当初の段階でロイヤルティ料率の調整に関するただ1つの契約条項について争ったという事実は、「(ライセンス取得の)意思がないこと」の表れであると本控訴裁判所は見なしている [22] 。本控訴裁判所は、当該調整条項がFRANDであるか否か、又は問題のある1つの条項によって申出全体が「非FRAND」になるか否か(本控訴裁判所はこれを疑問視している)については最終的に判断しなかった。これは、TCTのように、実施者がSEP保有者の申出について1つの条項のみを取り上げて批判する場合、交渉義務の違反となるからである [22] 。本地方裁判所が第一審の手続において争点となっている調整条項は非FRANDであると指摘した事実とは関係なく、TCTは本件において上記の義務を負っていた [22] 。本地方裁判所の発言は、IP Bridgeとの交渉に従事する義務からTCTを解放するものではない [22]

本控訴裁判所は、TCTのカウンターオファーについて、TCTはIP Bridgeと経済的譲歩のための交渉を行う用意はなかったと判断した [23] 。TCTは、IP Bridgeに対して行った全てのカウンターオファーにおいて、ロイヤルティ計算の基礎として、自社の携帯電話について(より低い)ASPを使用していた。このような「最大限の譲歩」の主張は、TCTが真剣にライセンスを取得する意思がないことを示すものである [24] 。このことは、第一審の訴訟及び判決において本地方裁判所がASPに関するTCTのアプローチを支持したという事実によって変わることはなかった。TCTは、上記にかかわらず、交渉義務から解放されることはなかったのである [25]
 

SEP保有者の申出

本控訴裁判所は、たとえTCTを意思あるライセンシーとみなすとしても、2020年3月4日付のIP Bridgeの(7回目の)ライセンス申出はいずれにせよFRANDであるため、TFEU102条の観点からIP Bridge側の行為は濫用であるという主張は否定されると説明した [26]

まず、ロイヤルティの決定に適用された「トップダウン」の方法論については、法的な懸念はない [27] 。本控訴裁判所は、IP Bridgeが申出したユニット毎で計算されるランニング・ロイヤルティについても同様だとしている [28] 。ライセンシーの販売実績に基づいて計算されたライセンス料(収益又は利益に基づく1ユニット当たりの料率)は、原則として競争法の観点から「中立」であり、従って、容認されるとした [28]

それどころか、本控訴裁判所は、「コストベース」の方法はFRAND料率の算定にはむしろ不適当であると強調した [29] 。特許又は一連の特許の開発に関連するコストの算出は困難である [29] 。その一方で、発明に要したコストは、一般的にその価値を測定する要素として適切ではない。「コストベース」の方法は、発明につながる決定的な要因はコストではなく、ほぼ発明者の「創造的行為」だということを無視するものである [29] 。本控訴裁判所は、この意味で、SEPの取得のために支払われた価格は、特許を作るための費用と認定することはできないと指摘した [29]

さらに、本控訴裁判所は、FRAND適合性の評価は「個々の計算パラメーターの個別の検討」から構成されるものではなく、最終的なライセンス料率がFRANDであるか否かに焦点を当てるべきだと強調した [30] 。本控訴裁判所は、特にIP Bridgeがライセンシー3社と同じ料率(同一のボリュームディスカウント制度を含む)で契約を締結していたことから、IP Bridgeが申し出た料率がFRANDであることには疑問を抱いていない [31] 。当該ライセンスは訴訟を伴わずに締結されたことから、ベンチマークとして採用できる [32] 。売上高が全く異なる既存ライセンシーの全てがボリュームディスカウント制度を受け入れたという事実は、それが搾取的でも差別的でもないことを示していた [33]

また、本控訴裁判所は、IP Bridgeが使用した個々の計算パラメーターもFRANDであると説明した。本地方裁判所とは対照的に、本控訴裁判所は、IP Bridgeがロイヤルティ計算の基礎としてグローバルな業界全体の年間ASPを使用したことには異議を唱えなかった [34] 。業界全体のASPには、製造者の評判、ブランド、デザイン、又は高い生産品質といった、無線技術に関係のない特徴が含まれるのは確かである。しかし、ダンピング価格、又はSEPライセンス料が考慮されない価格で販売された端末など、特別に低価格の端末もまた含まれる [35] 。ロイヤルティの計算に使用されたロイヤルティ負担総額も、他の裁判所がこれまでFRANDとして認めてきた範囲内で推移しており、問題はなかった [36] 。他のSEP保有者がより低い割合を適用していたとしても、IP Bridgeが求めた料率総額が搾取的であることを示すものではなかった [36]

さらに、本控訴裁判所は、IP Bridgeが4G関連のSEPについて自社のシェアを決定する方法に欠点はないと判断した [37] 。IP Bridgeは、2つの異なるSEP適用調査に基づく平均値を算出していた。本控訴裁判所は、両調査の結果が同様であったことから上記計算方法は容認できるものであり、さらに、IP Bridgeは最も低い結果を出した調査に依拠する義務を負っていなかったと判断した [37]

本控訴裁判所はさらに、IP Bridgeが特許の適用範囲に基づき特定の国や地域に対し異なる料率を申し出ることはなかったという事実も受け入れた [38] 。IP Bridgeが提案したグローバルな均一料率は、この選択肢により契約管理が容易となるなど正当な理由があったため、ライセンスの申出自体を搾取的にするものではなかった [39] 。本控訴裁判所は、そのような条件での申出が、特許適用範囲が狭い地域で高い売上を上げている実施者を不利にする可能性があるか否かは本件と無関係であると指摘した。SEP保有者は、その申出が「平均的なライセンシー」に対してFRANDであれば、交渉の義務を果たしていることになる [40] 。国や地域ごとに異なる料金を設定しないことが一般的に「搾取的」な料金につながる場合のみ、濫用となる可能性がある [40] 。本控訴裁判所は、本件はそれに当たる兆候はないとの見解を示した。その理由は特に、IP Bridgeからライセンス供与を受けた他の3社はこの形式で申出を受諾したからである [40]

その上、本控訴裁判所は、IP Bridgeが提案したボリュームディスカウントもFRANDであると判断した [41] 。SEP保有者はすべてのライセンシーに「一律の料金体系」を申し出る義務はない [42] 。しかしながら、「事実上正当」である場合、販売量に基づく割引は、販売量の少ない実施者にとっては単位当たり料金がより高額となるものの、認められている [42] 。本控訴裁判所は、SEP保有者が、実施者が売り上げを伸ばし、規格をより広く普及させ、結果としてより多くのライセンシーを獲得するよう動機付けることにより利益を成しえることを認めた [42] 。また、「大規模で評判の良い」実施者に対し特に有利な割引を申し出ることも正当化され得る。そのような会社によるライセンス締結は他のライセンシーによるライセンス締結のモチベーションにもなりえるからである [42]

本控訴裁判所は、IP Bridgeの申出に含まれるロイヤルティ調整条項について、この条項がFRANDであることを確認した [43] 。この条項は、ライセンシーがライセンス特許の有効性、本質性及び使用について異議を唱えることを認め、ライセンスポートフォリオについて(双方向の)「実質的な変化」が生じた際にロイヤルティを調整することを規定していた。調整メカニズムが発動されるのは「実質的な変化」が生じた場合のみであることは、些末な理由による調整を避けるという当事者双方の利益によって正当化されるため、本控訴裁判所はこの取決めは保護に値すると判断している [43] 。本控訴裁判所は、同様の検討に基づき、TCTへの申出が行われたランニング・ロイヤルティ料金モデルの基礎となる業界全体の年間ASP調整規定条項も同様にFRANDに沿ったものであることを認めている [34]
 

実施者のカウンターオファー

本控訴裁判所は最後に、本地方裁判所の見解とは異なり、2020年3月11日付のTCTのカウンターオファーは「明らかに」FRANDでないと判断した [44]

本事件において、IP BridgeはTCTに対し複数回にわたって行った申出を通じて、ユニット毎に設定されるロイヤルティ制度に基づく「一般的なライセンスモデル」の概要を繰り返し述べ、第三者ライセンシーとこの契約を締結していることを示した [45] 。本控訴裁判所は、このような状況において、SEP保有者に「ライセンスモデル」の根本的な変更を要求するカウンターオファーはFRANDではないと判断した [45] 。他者と締結したライセンス契約において、SEP保有者はその市場支配的地位を維持するために新たなライセンシーとの交渉で考慮しなければならない特定の条件に同意している [45] 。実際のところ、本控訴裁判所によれば、SEP保有者がもしこれまでのライセンス契約で申請及び使用されてきたモデルとは根本的に異なる料金体系を新規のライセンシーと合意したならば、既存のライセンシーを差別していると非難される可能性がある [45] 。さらに、SEP保有者は、その市場支配的な立場に基づき既存のライセンシーにも新しいライセンス料体系を申し出る義務を負う可能性があり、それは「ライセンスモデル」の完全な移行を引き起こすものとなる [45] 。本控訴裁判所は、SEP保有者はそのような根本的な変更を受け入れる義務はないとする見解を示した [45]

さらに、本控訴裁判所は、実施者に対してはこの意味で追加的な保護の必要はないことを指摘した。他のライセンシーがSEP権利者の「ライセンスモデル」を受け入れていることは、それが市場の状況に合致していることを示すと推定できる [45] 。他方で、SEP保有者の「ライセンスモデル」は、特定のライセンシーから見てFRANDでなければならない。このことは、他のライセンシーが既に同意しているか否かに関係なく、実施者は「ライセンスモデル」 の全ての条件について争うことができることを意味する [45] 。しかし、本件の実施者は、自らの(カウンター)オファーがたとえFRANDであったとしても、特許保有者に対して根本的に異なるタイプのライセンス料を受け入れるよう要求することはできない [45]
 

  • [1] IP Bridge対TCT、マンハイム地方裁判所、2020年8月21日付判決、事件番号: 2 O 136/18。
  • [2] IP Bridge対TCT、カールスルーエ高等地方裁判所、2022年2月2日付判決、事件番号: 6 U 149/20。
  • [3] 同判決、第116-170。
  • [4] 同判決、第171。
  • [5] 同判決、第172。
  • [6] 同判決、第174。
  • [7] 同判決、第173。
  • [8] 同判決、第184。
  • [9] Sisvel対Haier、ドイツ連邦最高裁判所、2020年5月5日付判決、事件番号: KZR 36/17、サマリー記載。Sisvel対Haier II、ドイツ連邦最高裁判所、2020年11月24日付判決、事件番号: KZR 35/17、サマリー記載。
  • [10] IP Bridge対TCT、カールスルーエ高等地方裁判所、2022年2月2日付判決、第176節。
  • [11] 同判決、第177節。
  • [12] 同判決、第178節。
  • [13] 同判決、第179節。
  • [14] 同判決、第180節。
  • [15] 同判決、第181節。
  • [16] 同判決、第182節。
  • [17] 同判決、第183節。
  • [18] 同判決、第185節。
  • [19] 同判決、第186節以下。
  • [20] 同判決、第188節及び第190節。
  • [21] 同判決、第190節。
  • [22] 同判決、第193節。
  • [23] 同判決、第197節以下。
  • [24] 同判決、第199節。
  • [25] 同判決、第199節以下。
  • [26] 同判決、第203節以下。
  • [27] 同判決、第206節。
  • [28] 同判決、第207節。
  • [29] 同判決、第208節。
  • [30] 同判決、第210節。
  • [31] 同判決、第220節及び第210節。
  • [32] 同判決、第223節。
  • [33] 同判決、第221節。
  • [34] 同判決、第209節。
  • [35] 同判決、第211節。
  • [36] 同判決、第212節。
  • [37] 同判決、第213節。
  • [38] 同判決、第215節以下。
  • [39] 同判決、第216節。
  • [40] 同判決、第217節。
  • [41] 同判決、第218節以下。
  • [42] 同判決、第218節。
  • [43] 同判決、第228節。
  • [44] 同判決、第232節。
  • [45] 同判決、第234節。


IP Bridge対HTC

25 11月 2020 - Case No. 6 U 104/18

A. 事実

原告であるIP Bridgeは、欧州電気通信標準化機構(ETSI)が開発した4G/LTE携帯電話規格への対応に必須な(と見込まれる)ものとして宣言された複数の特許を保有する。係争特許は、ETSIに対し公平、合理的かつ非差別的(FRAND)な条件で特許を利用者に提供することを誓約した企業から取得したものである。


被告は、台湾に本社を置き、(とりわけ)ドイツでも4G規格に対応した携帯電話を販売しているグローバルなエレクトロニクス企業である、HTCのドイツ子会社(HTC)である。

2014年12月、IP Bridgeは、HTCグループの親会社(親会社)に対し、自社の標準必須特許(SEP)のポートフォリオについて通知した。その後、当事者間で交渉が行われた。ライセンスの申出が交わされたが、契約には至らなかった。

2016年9月、IP BridgeはHTCを相手取り、マンハイム地方裁判所(本地方裁判所)に訴訟を提起した。IP Bridgeは、HTCの損害賠償責任を確認する宣言的判決を求め、情報の提供及び会計書類の提示を要求した。

2018年4月、親会社が秘密保持契約を締結した後、IP Bridgeは特許ポートフォリオに関する第三者との既存のライセンスを提示した。

2018年5月15日、IP Bridgeは、差止命令による救済並びに侵害製品のリコール及び破棄の請求を追加し、係争中の訴訟を拡大した。

2018年6月、HTCはカウンターオファーを行ったが、IP Bridgeはこれを拒否した。

2018年9月28日、本地方裁判所は、HTCが係争特許を侵害し、損害賠償責任を負うとの判決を下した[01]。また、本地方裁判所は、HTCに対し、会計書類の提示及びIP Bridgeへの関連情報の提供を命じた。その一方で、差止命令による救済並びに侵害製品のリコール及び破棄の請求は棄却された。両当事者はこの判決を不服として控訴した。

2019年3月、IP Bridgeの申出に関するライセンス交渉を進めるため、控訴手続きが一時停止された。その後の協議において、IP BridgeはHライセンスの申出内容を変更しHTCに提出した。この申出とともに、IP Bridgeは、チップセットメーカーと締結した複数の契約(本件で問題となったポートフォリオを部分的にカバーしている契約、又は特定の特許に関していわゆる「訴えられる順番が最後となる誓約」を含む契約)も共有した。

2020年2月、IP BridgeはHTCに再度ライセンス供与の申出を行った。HTCは、ランニング・ロイヤルティと一時金のいずれかで支払うよう選択を求められた。どちらの選択肢についても、ロイヤルティは、いわゆる「トップダウン」方式に従って決定された。料率は業界全体の(一部は予測による)年間携帯電話平均販売価格(ASP)を基本として算出された。ランニング・ロイヤルティによる支払いについては、予測値が実際のASPから5%以上乖離する場合、両当事者が年間ASPの調整を要求できる条項が含まれていた。

その後、控訴手続きは約2か月にわたり再び中断された。親会社は、2020年2月のIP Bridgeの申出を拒絶した。その後、親会社はIP Bridgeに対しさらに2回のカウンターオファーを行った。しかし契約は締結されなかった。

本判決により、カールスルーエ高等地方裁判所(本控訴裁判所)は、差止命令による救済並びに侵害製品のリコール及び破壊の請求についてのみ、本地方裁判所の判決を覆した[02]。第一審判決とは対照的に、本控訴裁判所は、これらの請求も認めた。
 

B. 判決理由

本控訴裁判所は、係争特許に対する侵害を確認した[03]

本控訴裁判所は、差止命令による救済並びに侵害製品のリコール及び破棄の請求が第一審で棄却される理由となった、HTCによる「FRAND宣言を理由とする抗弁」は、もはやこれら請求の執行を妨ぐことはできない、という見解を示している[04]

HTCは、IP Bridgeは排除請求を主張することにより、EU機能条約(TFEU)第102条に違反し市場支配的地位を濫用したと主張していた。本控訴裁判所は、IP Bridgeが当該市場において支配的地位を有しているという本地方裁判所の想定は正当であると判断した[05]。それにもかかわらず、IP Bridge はその市場支配力を濫用していない。控訴審の審理中にIP Bridgeが行った最新のライセンス申出は、いずれにせよFRANDであった[06]。それどころか、本控訴裁判所の判断によれば、その後に行われたHTCのカウンターオファーは、「明白かつ明らかに」FRANDではなかった[06]
 

係争期間中におけるHuaweiの義務

本控訴裁判所は、原則として、両当事者は侵害訴訟の係属中であっても、Huawei対ZTE判決(Huawei判決)[07]に基づく交渉の義務を果たすことができると改めて述べた[08]。同様に、本控訴裁判所は控訴審において、第一審の終了後に初めて行われた行為、特にライセンスの申出を考慮する[09]

この意味において、本控訴裁判所は、実施者はSEP保有者が自己のHuawei義務を果たした行為に対し、その行為が遅滞なく行われたか、又は徐々に行われたかに関係なく、適切に対応する義務を定期的に負っていると指摘している[10]。特許保有者側が「躊躇しつつ行動」した場合でも、それは差止命令による救済の権利を永久に妨げるものではなく、特許保有者がその義務を果たし実施者が対応するために与えられた合理的な期間が経過するまで、この権利の行使が「一時停止」されるだけである[10]。本控訴裁判所は、逆に、実施者側の遅延戦術は、SEP保有者がその義務を「躊躇しつつ行動」することで果たした場合であっても、排除措置によって制裁の対象となることを指摘した[11]

 

侵害通知

本控訴裁判所は、個々のHuaweiの義務を鑑み、IP BridgeがHTCに対して適切な侵害通知を行ったことを確認した[05]。本控訴裁判所は、その限りにおいて、本地方裁判所の理由付けに不備はないとした。
 

SEP保有者の申出

本控訴裁判所は、(少なくとも)IP BridgeがHTCに対し2020年2月に行った最新のライセンス申出はFRANDである(又は、いずれにせよ「明らかに非FRANDではない」)と判断した[11]。本控訴裁判所はFRAND適合性について包括的な評価を行い、本控訴裁判所は特許保有者の申出について限定的な「概要審査」しか行うことはできないという従前のスタンスを確認した[12]

 

本控訴裁判所は、SEP 保有者はその申出が「平均的なライセンシー」に関して「一般的に」FRANDである場合、「意思を有する」ライセンシーにFRAND条件でのライセンス申出を提出するというHuaweiの義務を定期的に満たしていることになるとの見解を示した[13]。実施者は、交渉の「出発点」である(最初の)申出が特定の個別の状況に既に適合していることを期待することはできない[14]。本控訴裁判所はFRAND が「範囲」である(幅がある)ことを強調しており、これは単一の条件や料金のセットのみがFRAND要件の対象ではないことを意味している[15]。特に「公平性」及び「合理性」の概念は、各案件の状況に基づく誠実な二者間交渉で当事者がFRANDを形成できるよう柔軟性を与えるものである。

IP Bridgeが行った最新のライセンス申出について、本控訴裁判所は、まず、そのタイミングには問題がなかったと判断した。実際のところ、IP Bridgeが徐々に準備し、控訴審の間だけこの申出を行ったという事実に有害性はない[16]。さらに、本控訴裁判所は、当該申出は「失効」していなかったため、HTCはそれに対応することが求められていたと強調した[17]。HTCは、IP Bridgeが設定した回答期限の経過後は、申出の拘束力はなくなると主張した。本控訴裁判所はこれに同意しなかった。当該期限はIP BridgeがHTCから回答を受領する予定時期を示しただけであり、HTCがその後申出を受諾することを妨げるものではなかった[17]。この理解は、期限が切れた後にIP BridgeがHTCに対して再度回答を要求したという事実によっても裏付けられている[17]。本控訴裁判所は、仮にライセンスの申出が「失効」していたと仮定しても、HTCは回答期限の終了にかかわらず、カウンターオファーをする、又は申出を受け入れ可能か否かをIP Bridgeに尋ねる義務があったとしている[17]
 

ロイヤルティの計算/ライセンス申出の内容

ライセンス料については、本控訴裁判所は、IP Bridge の最新の申出に含まれるロイヤルティ料率はFRANDであるとの見解を示した[18]。ロイヤルティ算出に適用された「トップダウン」の方法論について法律上の懸念はなかった[19]。計算に使用されたロイヤルティのベース、すなわち、業界全体の携帯電話の年間(一部予測)ASPに関しても同じことが言える[20]

本控訴裁判所は、全ての4G対応携帯端末の業界全体のASPを使用することはそれ自体が不合理であるというHTCの見解を退けた[21]。本控訴裁判所は、まず、FRAND適合性の評価は「個々の計算パラメーターの個別の検討」から構成されるものではなく、最終的なライセンス料率がFRANDであるか否かに焦点を当てるべきだと強調し、それが本件に当てはまるとした。一方、業界全体のASPが無線技術に関係のない特徴(メーカーの評判、ブランド、デザイン、高い生産品質など)を反映するという事実は、同時に、ダンピング価格で販売された端末やSEPライセンス料が考慮されない価格など、特に低価格の端末も含まれることから、容認されるものであった[22]。それとは別に、本控訴裁判所は、業界全体のASPがHTC自身の携帯電話のASPよりかなり高いわけではないとも述べている[23]。また、本控訴裁判所は、IP Bridgeがロイヤルティの計算に用いたロイヤルティの負担総額額は、他の裁判所が従来FRANDとして認めていた範囲(6%~10%)で推移していたため、問題ないと判断した[24]。他のSEP保有者がこれより低い割合を適用しているという事実は、IP Bridgeが提示した料率による総額が搾取的であることを示すものではなかった[24]

さらに、本控訴裁判所は、IP Bridgeが4G関連のSEPについて自社のシェアを計算する方法に欠点はないと判断した[25]。IP Bridgeは、2つの異なるSEP適用調査に基づく平均値を算出していた。本控訴裁判所は、両調査の結果が同様であったことから上記計算方法は容認できるものであり、さらに、IP Bridgeは最も低い結果を出した調査に依拠する義務を負っていなかったと判断した[25]

本控訴裁判所はさらに、IP Bridgeが特許の適用範囲に基づき特定の国や地域に対し異なる料率を申し出ることはなかったという事実について、何の懸念も示さなかった[26]。IP Bridgeが提案したグローバルな均一料率は、この選択肢により契約管理が容易となるなど正当な理由があったため、ライセンスの申出自体を搾取的にするものではなかった[27]。本控訴裁判所は、そのような条件での申出が、特許適用範囲が狭い地域で高い売上を上げている実施者を不利にする可能性があるか否かは本件と無関係であると説明した。前述のとおり、SEP保有者は、その申出が「平均的なライセンシー」に対してFRANDであれば、交渉の義務を果たしていることになる[28]。国や地域ごとに異なる料金を設定しないことが一般的に「搾取的」な料金につながる場合のみ、濫用となる可能性がある[28]。本控訴裁判所は、本件はそれに当たる兆候はないとの見解を示した。その理由は特に、IP Bridgeからライセンス供与を受けた他の者がこの形式で申出を受諾したからである[28]。その上、本控訴裁判所は、IP Bridgeが提案したボリュームディスカウントもFRANDであると判断した[29]。SEP保有者は、原則として、すべてのライセンシーに「一律の料金体系」を申し出る義務はない[30]。しかしながら、「事実上正当」である場合、販売量に基づく割引は、販売量の少ない実施者にとっては単位当たり料金がより高額となるものの、認められている[30]。本控訴裁判所は、SEP保有者が、実施者が売り上げを伸ばし、規格をより広く普及させ、結果としてより多くのライセンシーを獲得するよう動機付けることにより利益を成しえることを認めた[30]。また、「大規模で評判の良い」実施者に対し特に有利な割引を申し出ることも正当化され得る。そのような会社によるライセンス締結は他のライセンシーによるライセンス締結のモチベーションにもなりえるからである[30]。本事例で使用されたボリュームディスカウントの結果として、他の既存ライセンシーよりもHTCの料金が高くなるという事実は、IP Bridgeの申出を差別的なものとするものではない[31]。本控訴裁判所は、SEP保有者のFRAND申出の義務は、その申出が「平均的なライセンシー」に対して非差別的である場合に充足されると繰り返したが、HTCはそれは本件に当てはまるとは主張せず、割引制度がHTC又は 一般的に小規模のメーカーに対して差別的であるとのみ主張した[32]

そう述べた上で、本控訴裁判所は、最終的に個々の計算パラメーターが「FRAND準拠」であるか否かは関係なく、最終的なロイヤルティの支払いがFRANDであるか否かが決定的な要素であると繰り返し述べている[33]。本控訴裁判所は、IP Bridgeが他の2社のライセンシーと同じ料率(同一のボリュームディスカウント制度を含む) で契約を締結しているため、IP Bridgeの申出がFRANDであることについて疑いを持たなかった[33]。当該ライセンスは訴訟を伴わずに締結されたことから、ベンチマークとして使用することが可能であった[34]。売上高が異なる既存ライセンシー(1社はHTCより高く、1社は低い)が共にIP Bridgeのボリュームディスカウント制度を受け入れたという事実は、それが搾取的でも差別的でもないことを示していた[35]。さらに、本控訴裁判所は、ライセンスの1つがインフラ特許もカバーしていたこと(HTCへの申出ではカバーされていない)については、当該特許はライセンスポートフォリオの1%に過ぎず、従って、FRAND適合性の評価に関しても重要視性が低いことから、差別的とは見なさないとした[36]


本控訴裁判所はさらに、ロイヤルティ計算とは別に、IP Bridgeの最新のライセンス申出の他の条項もFRANDであると判断した[37]。申出には、ライセンシーがライセンス特許の有効性、必須性及び使用に異議を唱えることを認めるロイヤルティ調整条項が含まれ、ライセンスポートフォリオについて(双方向の)「実質的な変化」が生じた際にロイヤルティを調整することも規定していた。調整メカニズムが発動されるのは「実質的な変化」が生じた場合のみであることは、些末な理由による調整を避けるという当事者双方の利益によって正当化されるため、本控訴裁判所はこの取決めは保護に値すると判断している[38]

 

ライセンス申出に関する情報

実施者にライセンス申出を説明する関連義務を考慮し、本控訴裁判所は、特定の実施者が料率その他の契約条項の根拠となる仮定、及び特許保有者が自己の申出を搾取的や差別的なものではないと考える理由の両方を理解できるような方法で申出を詳しく説明するようSEP保有者に要求している[02]

本控訴裁判所は、IP BridgeはHTCに対して行った最新の申出において上記の要件を満たしていたとの見解を示した[39]。変更されていない要素については、IP Bridgeが過去に情報を提供している限りにおいて、情報を繰り返すことは「無用な形式主義」に過ぎないとして、情報を繰り返す義務はないと本控訴裁判所は説明した。


本控訴裁判所は、IP Bridgeのポートフォリオの標準的必須性を証明するために、包括的な「上位リスト」 について拡大は必要なかったと付け加えた[40]。いずれにせよ、IP BridgeがHTCと共有した24のクレームチャートは十分であると考えられた(ポートフォリオは全部で48の特許で構成されている)[41]

さらに、本控訴裁判所は、IP Bridgeが4G関連のSEPについて自社のシェアを決定するために2つの(外部)適用調査に依拠することができ、この点に関して独自の調査を実施する義務は存在しないと指摘した[42]。IP Bridgeは、これら2つの調査は共に閲覧可能であったため、HTCと共有する義務を負っていなかった[42]。本控訴裁判所によれば、HTCがこれらの調査のうちの1つにアクセスするためには5万ポンド(又は7万5千ポンドの年間購読料)の費用がかかるが、購入は不合理ではないとのことである[42]


本控訴裁判所はまた、IP Bridgeは締結済みライセンス契約の「本質的な内容」についてHTCに通知する義務を遵守していたと判断した[43]。IP Bridgeは、他の3社のライセンシーと締結した契約書を共有した。SEP保有者が以前の特許保有者によって締結された契約も提示する義務があるか否かという問題については、本控訴裁判所では未解決のままであった。本件では、IP Bridgeのポートフォリオは複数の特許保有者から取得した特許で構成されており、現在の構造でポートフォリオをカバーする従前契約は存在しなかった[44]。従前の個別ライセンス契約には、むしろ限られた情報上の価値しか存在しない可能性がある [45]。いずれにしても、期限切れのライセンス契約を共有することは当該義務には含まれない[46]
 

時間的困難のない交渉

上記に加えて、本控訴裁判所は、控訴審の期間中にIP Bridgeが行った申出に関する交渉について、審理が2度にわたり中断されたことから、「時間的困難のない」交渉が可能であったと判断した[47]。審理が中断された期間は、HTCが義務付けられている、申出の慎重な検討に十分な長さであった[48]

さらに、本控訴裁判所は、IP Bridgeは中国におけるHTCグループの関係会社に対して開始された侵害訴訟も中断する義務を負っていなかったと説明した[49]。EUの競争法の下では、SEPから生じる排除的権利の主張は、(差止命令といった)裁判所の措置がEU単一市場からの製品排除につながる場合に限り、濫用になり得る[50]。他の市場で起こされた訴訟はそのような効果を持たないため、ドイツで主張された排除的請求の執行を妨げることはできない[51]。SEP保有者が並行して係属中のドイツ侵害訴訟の裁判を中断する義務があるか否かは、ドイツの裁判所における当事者間の他の唯一の裁判が2017年11月以降「保留」されていたことから、本控訴裁判所では判断されなかった[52]

実施者のカウンターオファー

さらに、本控訴裁判所は、控訴審前及び控訴審中に行われたHTCのカウンターオファーはFRAND条件を満たすものではないとした[51]

本控訴裁判所は、カウンターオファーを行う実施者の義務は、SEP保有者が「明らかにFRANDでない」申出を行い、実施者がその申出についてFRAND条件でのカウンターオファーを設定することができるような方法で十分な説明を受けたときに発動するという見解を示した[53]。Huaweiの義務が「それ自体を目的としたもの」ではなく、ライセンス条件について合意に達するよう当事者を動機付けることが目的だと仮定すると、本控訴裁判所は、実施者にSEP保有者がFRAND条件を満たす申出をしたときのみ対応するよう求めることは、交渉の行き詰まりに繋がると判断した[54]。この解釈は、CJEUが、実施者がFRAND条件を満たすカウンターオファーを提出する義務について、SEP保有者の申出を拒否することのみを条件とし、当該申出が実際にFRANDであることを追加要求していないことから、Huaweiの判決とも矛盾する[55]。 

本控訴裁判所は、特にHTCのカウンターオファーについて、ライセンス対象の全ての特許が少なくとも1つの携帯電話規格に必須であることをIP Bridgeが保証すべきとする条項に注目した。本控訴裁判所は、この条項は非FRANDであるとした[56]。実施者が契約においてライセンス特許の有効性、必須性及び使用に異議を唱える権利を保持することが許されているのは確かである[57]。しかし、特許保有者に上記条項で規定された保証の提供を要求することはできない[58]。本控訴裁判所は、この条項に違反した場合(ライセンス対象特許が必須特許でないと証明された場合)、(少なくとも)SEP保有者側に損害賠償責任が生じる可能性があると指摘している[58]。それによって、実施者にとって「リスクを伴う取引」であるというライセンス契約の性質が失われ、SEP保有者は損害賠償責任という形で(増大した)リスクを負うことになる[58]。本控訴裁判所は、この意味において、HTCは上記のような契約上の規定を実務上一般的なものとすることはできない点も考慮した[58]
 

ライセンス取得の意思

最後に、本控訴裁判所は、HTCの行動は全体的に、ライセンス取得の意思がないことを示すものであると判断した[59]

Sisvel対Haierの事件[60]におけるドイツ連邦裁判所(Bundesgerichtshof)の判例を受け、本控訴裁判所は、実施者は事実上どのような条件であれ FRANDでライセンスを取得する意思があることを「明確かつ曖昧さを残さず」宣言しなければならず、その後、「目的志向」でライセンス交渉に従事する必要があると説明した[61]。「一般的な意思」を示すだけは十分ではなく、実施者の宣言は「真剣」かつ「無条件」でなければならず、「単なる口先だけ」では不十分である[11]

本控訴裁判所によれば、「意思」は「静的」な位置づけを有するものではない。そのため、実施者がある時点で意思を有していた(又は意思を有していなかった)という判断も、不変ではない[62]。さらに、ライセンスを取得するための「継続的な意思」が必要とされる[62]。特に関連性が高いのは、契約締結に関心を持ち、SEP保有者による訴訟を退けるための手続的手段を追求しない「誠実で意思のある」ライセンス希望者であればどのように行動するかという点である[62]

このような背景のもと、本控訴裁判所は、HTCがIP Bridgeと、特に交渉の最終段階において、「躊躇しながら」しか関わっていなかったことを批判した[63]。実際のところ、HTCがカウンターオファーを提出したのは、控訴審の口頭審理のわずか3週間前のことであり、審理の2日前に修正版をIP Bridgeと共有したのみであった[63]。さらに、本控訴裁判所は、「意思のある」ライセンシーであれば、HTCのカウンターオファーに記載されたライセンス対象ポートフォリオ特許の必須性についてSEP保有者が保証するよう言い張ることはなかったであろうとの見解を示した[63]
 

C. その他の問題

本控訴裁判所は、「特許の待ち伏せ」の概念に基づき、HTCが提起した抗弁を棄却した[64]。本控訴裁判所は、権利保有側による「故意の不正行為」を、(従前の)特許権者がETSI IPRポリシーに基づく開示義務を認識していた、又は他の事例において当該特許を開示しなかった若しくは開示に遅滞したことを示すだけでは立証できない、と説明した。[65]さらに、本控訴裁判所は、「特許の待ち伏せ」の抗弁を主張する当事者に対し、( 少なくとも)規格に組み込まれたソリューションに対する代替技術が実際に存在する「具体的な可能性」を立証することを要求した。この点は本地方裁判所と同意見である[66]。HTCは本件においてこの立証ができなかった。

法律上の影響について、本控訴裁判所は、「特許の待ち伏せ」は特許から生じる請求を禁止するものではないことを明確にした[67]。この状況において特許の効力の停止を支持する法的根拠は存在しない[67]。このような停止は「単純な規則違反」に対する制裁としては不釣り合いに厳しいものであり、また、特許保有者がFRANDを誓約し、特許で保護されているか否かにかかわらず最善の技術的解決策が規格に採用されることを目的とするETSI IPRポリシーによって定められた開示義務の「精神及び目的」にも抵触することになる[67]

本控訴裁判所は、さらに、特定のチップセットメーカーと合意したいわゆる「訴えられる順番が最後となる誓約」の存在により、IP Bridgeは係争中の特許を主張することができないというHTCの主張を退けた[68]。本控訴裁判所は、ドイツ法の下で、「訴えられる順番が最後となる誓約」は、特許に基づく訴訟を提起する可能性を排除するものではなく、(据え置き状態の契約に基づき)一時的に停止するだけであるため、特許権の消尽にはつながらないことを強調した[69]

さらに、本控訴裁判所は、ドイツ法の下では、いわゆる「非訴訟提起誓約」の形による(より広範な)合意も特許権の消尽をもたらすものではないことを強調した[70]。この種の契約は、特許を遵守する製品を上市するためのライセンス又は同意という効果を有するものではない[71]。ドイツの特許については、「非訴訟誓約」は通常の場合、(手続き上)据え置き状態の契約を上回る効果を持つことはない[72]
 

  • [01] IP Bridge対HTC、マンハイム地方裁判所、2018年9月28日付判決、事件番号: 7 O 165/16。
  • [02] IP Bridge対HTC、カールスルーエ高等地方裁判所、2020年11月25日付判決、事件番号: 6 U 104/18 (GRUR-RS 2020, 56869にて引用)。
  • [03] 同判決、第58-98。
  • [04] 同判決、第117節。
  • [05] 同判決、第134節。
  • [06] 同判決、第133節。
  • [07] Huawei対ZTE、 欧州連合司法裁判所、2015年7月16日付判決、事件番号: C-170/13。
  • [08] IP Bridge対HTC、カールスルーエ高等地方裁判所、2020年11月25日付判決、第118節。
  • [09] 同判決、第119節。
  • [10] 同判決、第121節以下。
  • [11] 同判決、第124節。
  • [12] 同判決、第136節。
  • [13] 同判決、第136節及び第130節。
  • [14] 同判決、第127節。
  • [15] 同判決、第128節。
  • [16] 同判決、第126節。
  • [17] 同判決、第137節。
  • [18] 同判決、第138節。
  • [19] 同判決、第139節以下。
  • [20] 同判決、第140節。
  • [21] 同判決、第141節以下。
  • [22] 同判決、第143節。
  • [23] 同判決、第145節。
  • [24] 同判決、第146節。
  • [25] 同判決、第147節。
  • [26] 同判決、第148節。
  • [27] 同判決、第152節以下。
  • [28] 同判決、第153節。
  • [29] 同判決、第154節。
  • [30] 同判決、第155節以下。
  • [31] 同判決、第156節。
  • [32] 同判決、第157節以下。
  • [33] 同判決、第158節。
  • [34] 同判決、第160節。
  • [35] 同判決、第164節。
  • [36] 同判決、第161節。
  • [37] 同判決、第163節。
  • [38] 同判決、第166節以下。
  • [39] 同判決、第168節。
  • [40] 同判決、第169節以下。
  • [41] 同判決、第169節。
  • [42] 同判決、第170節。
  • [43] 同判決、第171節。
  • [44] 同判決、第173節。
  • [45] 同判決、第174節。
  • [46] 同判決、第178節。
  • [47] 同判決、第178節以下。
  • [48] 同判決、第180節以下。
  • [49] 同判決、第182節以下。
  • [50] 同判決、第185節。
  • [51] 同判決、第186節。
  • [52] 同判決、第187節。
  • [53] 同判決、第184節。
  • [54] 同判決、第129節。
  • [55] 同判決、第131節。
  • [56] 同判決、第132節。
  • [57] 同判決、第188節以下。
  • [58] 同判決、第189節。
  • [59] 同判決、第190節。
  • [60] 同判決、第193節。
  • [61] Sisvel対Haier、ドイツ連邦最高裁判所、2020年5月5日付判決、事件番号: KZR 36/17。
  • [62] IP Bridge対HTC、カールスルーエ高等地方裁判所、2020年11月25日付判決、第124節以下。
  • [63] 同判決、第125節。
  • [64] 同判決、第194節。
  • [65] 同判決、第103節以下。
  • [66] 同判決、第104節。
  • [67] 同判決、第105節。
  • [68] 同判決、第106節。
  • [69] 同判決、第108節。
  • [70] 同判決、第110節及び第114節以下。
  • [71] 同判決、第111節以下。
  • [72] 同判決、第111節及び第113節。


Cases from LG Düsseldorf - Regional Court


Sisvel v Haier

3 11月 2015 - Case No. 4a O 93/14

  1. Facts
    Claimant, a non-practicing entity, is the proprietor of European patent EP B, originally granted to the applicant “A”, allegedly covering a feature of the GPRS standard, and being part of Claimant’s patent portfolio “H Wireless Patent Program” which purportedly encompasses patents essential to various ICT standards. Defendants “I” and “J” produce and market GPRS-based devices. On 10 April 2013, Claimant made a commitment towards ETSI declaring to grant a license on FRAND terms with regard to, inter alia, patent EP B. By letters as of 20 December 2012, 22 August 2013 and 11 November 2013, as well as in meetings on 17 February 2014 Claimant informed the parent company of Defendants “I” and “J” about the “H Wireless Patent Program” and made an offer but no licensing agreement was concluded. On 29 August 2014 Claimant made another licensing offer which was refused on 1 September 2014 by Defendant “J” without a counter-offer. By letter as of 12 August 2015 Defendants submitted a counter-offer regarding patent EP B which was, in turn, refused by Claimant on 24 August 2015. After Claimant had brought an action against “I” and “J”, Defendants made yet another licensing offer in their court filing as of 21 September 2015 which was refused as well. In the course of the oral hearings on 29 September 2015, Defendants submitted a security in the amount of € 5000 and rendered account in respect of acts of use in the past.
  2. Court’s reasoning
    1. Market power and notice of infringement
      The court left open the question of whether the SEP conferred market power to Claimant since it did, in any case, find no abuse of such potential market power (cf. below). As to the infringement notification, [1] the court did not decide whether the meetings with individual companies of the group to which Defendants belong already satisfied the requirements established by the ECJ. Since, in the present case, Claimant filed its actions before the judgment in Huawei v ZTE was rendered the court considered it sufficient that the infringer was alerted of the infringement through the statement of claims: The rules of conduct established by the German Federal Court (Bundesgerichtshof) in its Orange Book-ruling do not require the patent holder to give notice or submit a licensing offer prior to suing a (purportedly) infringing standard implementer. Although Orange Book addressed a de facto Standard and was heavily criticized by scholars and the EU Commission alike, it was being applied by German lower courts to de jure standards until the ECJ handed down its Huawei decision. In consequence, Claimant could—prior to the Huawei decision—reasonably consider itself to comply with the law by acting in accordance with the Orange Book rules. In terms of content, the District Court left undecided the question whether of the infringement notification must only indicate the patent for which prohibitory injunction is sought, whether—on the contrary—reference to other IP rights with respect to which a license is offered has to be made, or whether such additional reference is relevant only in determining FRAND licensing conditions. The court also left open whether the alleged infringer must accept a FRAND offer since the patent holder has then fulfilled its obligations according to antitrust law and thus there is no room for a counter-offer.

    2. The SEP owner’s licensing offer
      As regards the Huawei requirement to present the alleged infringer with a specific, written offer for a license on FRAND terms, three statements of the district court deserve attention: Firstly, the SEP holder is in compliance with the ECJ conditions if the licensing offer is submitted not to all individual companies within a group but to the group parent only. Secondly, the court did not decide on whether an offer providing for a worldwide portfolio license and encompassing also non-SEPs could be considered as FRAND because, thirdly, the alleged infringers did not comply with their duties of conduct under Huawei (cf. below). [2]

    3. The standard implementer’s reaction
      According to the court even if the patent proprietor’s licensing offer is not FRAND-compliant, a standard implementer would still have to respond to that offer. The question of whether the alleged infringer may respond to a non-FRAND offer in a different manner than by submitting a specific counter-offer, in particular by merely demonstrating that the SEP owner’s offer was not FRAND, was left undecided. [3] Since Defendants decided to submit a counter-offer, the court stated that they were obliged to render account in respect of acts of use and to provide security for potential royalties, both based on their counter-offer and starting with the refusal of the first counter-offer, regardless of whether subsequent offers and counter-offers were formulated. These obligations also apply to “transitional” cases in which the (first) counter-offer has been rejected before the Huawei ruling because the—previously applicable—Orange Book-rules of conduct were even more demanding for the standard implementer. In the present case, Defendants did not comply with this prerequisite because they rejected, on 1 September 2014, the offers presented by Claimant on 17 February and 29 August 2014 without formulating any counter-offer, submitting such a counter-offer only belatedly, on 12 August 2015. [4] Furthermore, Defendants did not comply with their duties to render account and to provide security because they did so only on 29 September 2015, i.e. more than one month after their first counter-offer had been rejected by the claimant on 24 August 2015. [5]

  3. Other important issues
    In addition to its considerations regarding Huawei, the court deliberated on two other important issues: As regards the transfer of a SEP from the original patent proprietor to a non-practicing entity, registration in the patent register in accordance with § 30 (3) PatG establishes presumption of ownership, allowing the proprietor to enforce all rights derived from the SEP as long as the presumption has not been successfully rebutted by Defendants. [6] Furthermore, no patent ambush-defense based on § 242 BGB could successfully be raised because, firstly, Defendants could not substantiate the alleged patent ambush by “A” (being the original SEP proprietor); secondly, the alleged patent ambush would, arguably, have resulted only in a FRAND licensing obligation while, thirdly, Claimant had declared its willingness to grant a license on FRAND terms anyway. [7]
  • [1]  Case No. 4a O 93/14, para. 90-94
  • [2]  Case No. 4a O 93/14, para. 96-98, 125
  • [3]  Case No. 4a O 93/14, para. 98-101
  • [4]  Case No. 4a O 93/14, para. 14, 103-109
  • [5]  Case No. 4a O 93/14, para. 103-111
  • [6]  Case No. 4a O 93/14, para. 37-40
  • [7]  Case No. 4a O 93/14, para. 118-123


Sisvel v Haier 2

3 11月 2015 - Case No. 4a O 144/14

  1. Facts
    The facts of the case are very similar to those of LG Düsseldorf, 3 November 2015 – Case No. 4a O 93/14: Claimant, a non-practicing entity, is the proprietor of the European patent EP D, originally applied for by “A” and formerly owned (after various transfers) by “B”, allegedly covering part of the UMTS standard, and being part of Claimant’s patent portfolio “H Wireless Patent Program” which purportedly encompasses patents essential to various ICT standards. Defendants “I” and “J” produce and market UMTS-based devices. On 10 April 2013 Claimant made a FRAND commitment towards ETSI, inter alia regarding patent EP D. By letters as of 20 December 2012, 22 August 2013 and 11 November 2013, as well as in meetings on 17 February 2014, Claimant informed the parent company of Defendants “I” and “J” about the “H Wireless Program” but no licensing agreement was concluded. On 29 August 2014 Claimant made another licensing offer which was refused on 1 September 2014 by “J” without a counter-offer. By letter as of 13 October 2014 one of the Defendants submitted a first counter-offer regarding patent EP D which Claimant refused on 20 October 2014 referring to the ongoing negotiations with the parent company of that Defendant. On 12 August 2015 Defendants “I” and “J” made a second counter-offer which was rejected by Claimant on 24 August 2015. After Claimant had brought a lawsuit Defendants made a last counter-offer in their court filing as of 22 September 2015 that was also refused by Claimant. In the course of the oral hearings of 29 September 2015, Defendants submitted a security (€ 5000) and rendered account in respect of acts of use in the past.
  2. Court’s reasoning
    Except for references to the slightly differing facts of both cases the court’s considerations are identical to those in the decision LG Düsseldorf, 3 November 2015 – Case No. 4a O 93/14.
    1. Market power and notice of infringement
      The court left open the question of whether the SEP conferred market power to Claimant since it did, in any case, find no abuse of such potential market power (cf. below). As to the infringement notification, [66] the court did not decide whether the meetings with individual companies of the group to which Defendants belong already satisfied the requirements established by the ECJ. Since, in the present case, Claimant filed its actions before the judgment in Huawei v ZTE was rendered the court considered it sufficient that the infringer was alerted of the infringement through the statement of claims: The rules of conduct established by the German Federal Court (Bundesgerichtshof) in its Orange Book-ruling do not require the patent holder to give notice or submit a licensing offer prior to suing a (purportedly) infringing standard implementer. Although Orange Book addressed a de facto Standard and was heavily criticized by scholars and the EU Commission alike, it was being applied by German lower courts to de jure standards until the ECJ handed down its Huawei decision. In consequence, Claimant could—prior to the Huawei decision—reasonably consider itself to comply with the law by acting in accordance with the Orange Book rules.

      In terms of content, the District Court left undecided the question whether of the infringement notification must only indicate the patent for which prohibitory injunction is sought, whether—on the contrary—reference to other IP rights with respect to which a license is offered has to be made, or whether such additional reference is relevant only in determining FRAND licensing conditions. The court also left open whether the alleged infringer must accept a FRAND offer since the patent holder has then fulfilled its obligations according to antitrust law and thus there is no room for a counter-offer.
    2. The SEP owner’s licensing offer
      As regards the Huawei requirement to present the alleged infringer with a specific, written offer for a license on FRAND terms, three statements of the district court deserve attention: Firstly, the SEP holder is in compliance with the ECJ conditions if the licensing offer is submitted not to all individual companies within a group but to the group parent only. Secondly, the court did not decide on whether an offer providing for a worldwide portfolio license and encompassing also non-SEPs could be considered as FRAND because, thirdly, the alleged infringers did not comply with their duties of conduct under Huawei (cf. below). [67]
    3. The standard implementer’s reaction
      According to the court, even if the patent proprietor’s licensing offer is not FRAND-compliant, a standard implementer would still have to respond to that offer. The question of whether the alleged infringer may respond to a non-FRAND offer in a different manner than by submitting a specific counter-offer, in particular by merely demonstrating that the SEP owner’s offer was not FRAND, was left undecided. [68] Since Defendants decided to submit a counter-offer, the court stated that they were obliged to render account in respect of acts of use and to provide security for potential royalties, both based on their counter-offer and starting with the refusal of the first counter-offer, regardless of whether subsequent offers and counter-offers were formulated. These obligations also apply to “transitional” cases in which the (first) counter-offer has been rejected before the Huawei ruling because the—previously applicable—Orange Book-rules of conduct were even more demanding for the standard implementer. In the present case, Defendants did not comply with this prerequisite because they rejected, on 1 September 2014, the offers presented by Claimant on 17 February and 29 August 2014 without formulating any counter-offer, submitting such a counter-offer only belatedly, on 12 August 2015. [69] Furthermore, Defendants did not comply with their duties to render account and to provide security because they did so only on 29 September 2015, i.e. more than one month after their first counter-offer had been rejected by the claimant on 24 August 2015. [70]
  3. Other important issues
    In addition to its considerations regarding Huawei, the court deliberated on two other important issues: As regards the transfer of a SEP from the original patent proprietor to a non-practicing entity, registration in the patent register in accordance with § 30 (3) PatG establishes presumption of ownership, allowing the proprietor to enforce all rights derived from the SEP as long as the presumption has not been successfully rebutted by Defendants. [71] Furthermore, no patent ambush-defense based on § 242 BGB could successfully be raised because, firstly, Defendants could not substantiate the alleged patent ambush by “A” (being the original SEP proprietor); secondly, the alleged patent ambush would, arguably, have resulted only in a FRAND licensing obligation while, thirdly, Claimant had declared its willingness to grant a license on FRAND terms anyway. [72]
  • [66] Case No. 4a O 93/14, para. 90-94
  • [67] Case No. 4a O 93/14, para. 96-98, 125
  • [68] Case No. 4a O 93/14, para. 98-101
  • [69] Case No. 4a O 93/14, para. 14, 103-109
  • [70] Case No. 4a O 93/14, para. 103-111
  • [71] Case No. 4a O 93/14, para. 37-40
  • [72] Case No. 4a O 93/14, para. 118-123


Saint Lawrence v Vodafone

31 3月 2016 - Case No. 4a O 73/14

  1. Facts
    Since 28 August 2014 Claimant, a non-practicing entity, is the proprietor of the European patent EP 1 125 276 B1 “J”, originally granted to applicants “Voiceage, and allegedly covering part of the AMR-WB standard. Defendant is a company active in the telecommunications sector and which markets AMR-WB-based devices, inter alia devices produced by the Intervener in this case. After the adoption (“freeze”) of AMR-WB by ETSI on 10 April 2001, Claimant (who was not an ETSI member during the setting of the AMR-WB standard) made, on 29 May 2001, a commitment towards ETSI to grant licenses on FRAND terms inter alia for patent EP J. Claimant and its parent company “O” offer the SEP and all other patents of the same family to third parties by means of a portfolio license. Licensing conditions are accessible on the Internet and various producers in the sector have taken a license under these conditions. Prior to the submission of the patent infringement action on 23 July 2014 and to the advance payments on costs on 29 July 2014, Claimant alerted neither Defendant nor the manufacturer of the contested embodiments, who acted as an intervener in the present proceedings and became aware of the lawsuit in August 2014. By e-mails on 31 July and (as a reminder) on 9 December 2014, the first of which included a copy of the statement of claims and reached the defendant before it was formally served with the statement, Claimant notified the alleged patent violation to Defendant. After Defendant’s reply as of 12 January 2015, Claimant presented a draft licensing agreement to Defendant by letter as of 22 April 2015. On 9 December 2014, the Intervener (HTC) declared willingness to take a license for that patent, inter alia for the patent-in-suit, provided infringement was found in Mannheim’s District Court. It further declared that it would accept royalties determined by a court or arbitration tribunal. Claimant, in turn, offered a licensing agreement by letters as of 12 January 2015 and 25 March 2015 respectively. In the course of meetings taking place since 23 January 2014, This is the date mentioned by the Court although “23 January 2015” may seem more plausible and the date given by the Court may result from a scrivener’s error. Claimant offered a license to the Intervener. On 23 February 2015 and on 2 April 2015 respectively, the Intervener made two licensing offers, including third party determination (arbitration panel or English court) of the amount of royalty, for the whole German patent portfolio of Claimant. An additional offer for a licensing agreement, limited to Germany and implementing a royalty of USD 0.0055 per patent by reference to the “WCDMA Patent Pools”, was made by the Intervener on 6 March 2015 and 24 September 2015 respectively, but it was finally refused by Claimant on 4 October 2015. Moreover, the Intervener provided a bank “guarantee of payment” as of 3 September 2015, being modified by letter as of 10 November 2015, and also rendered account of past and prospective sales in Germany since 2011.
  2. Court’s reasoning
    1. Market power and notice of infringement
      The court leaves open the question of whether the SEP conferred market power to Claimant since it did, in any case, find no abuse of such potential market power. [2] The court declared the Huawei rules applicable to claims for the recall of products. [3] As regards the Huawei requirement to alert the standard user of the infringement, the decision arrived at various findings of interest: Firstly, the judges found that—in “non-transitional” cases where the lawsuit was brought after the Huawei decision—the infringement notification has to take place before the action is filed, or the latest before the advance payment on costs is made. In transitional cases, such as the present case, a delayed infringement notification, taking place after the advance payment on costs as well as the submission of the court action, but before the statement of claims is served, is admissible. [4] Moreover, an infringement notification could possibly be omitted (in particular) if—as in the present case—the patent user already disposes of all necessary information and lacks willingness to license. [5] In non-transitional cases, however, the court doubts whether it is possible to rectify an omitted infringement notification without withdrawing the action. [6] Secondly, the court specified the minimum content of the infringement notification which has to indicate at least the number of the patent, the contested embodiments and the alleged acts of use performed by the standard implementer. The court did not decide whether additional information has to be provided, in particular regarding the interpretation of the patent claims or on which part of the standard the patent reads, but it stated that such additional information is not harmful to the patent proprietor. [7] Lastly, the court detailed on the particular situation of the Intervener, being Defendant’s manufacturer and supplier in the present case: Even though a FRAND defense successfully raised by the Intervener would in general also cover subsequent levels of the distribution chain, the Huawei requirements apply only indirectly to suppliers of contested embodiments which have not been sued themselves. Accordingly, the SEP proprietor is not obliged to notify the patent infringement to third parties, but as soon as a request to grant a license on FRAND terms is submitted the (adapted) Huawei procedure applies. [8] In casu, no separate infringement notice vis-à-vis the Intervener was required since the Intervener was, since August 2014, aware of the action having been brought.
    2. The SEP owner’s licensing offer
      Since the patent user did not express its willingness to conclude a licensing agreement in due time, the court found Claimant to comply with the Huawei requirement to submit a licensing offer on FRAND terms even though the offer was made in the course of the ongoing litigation. For transitional cases, as the present one, this holds true even if infringement notification and court action take place at the same time. [9] Besides, the court analyzed under which circumstances licensing conditions can be considered as FRAND according to Huawei. In the opinion of the judges, the more licensing agreements implementing comparable terms the SEP proprietor has already concluded, the stronger is the presumption that these conditions are FRAND, unless factual reasons—which are to be demonstrated by the patent user—justify modified terms. Recognized commercial practice in the relevant sector has to be considered when defining the admissible scope of the licensing agreement. If patent portfolios are usually covered by group or worldwide licenses in the relevant market, a (worldwide) portfolio license will be FRAND unless the circumstances of the specific case, e.g. the SEP proprietor’s market activity being limited to one geographic market, require a modification. [10] Accordingly, Claimant’s (worldwide) licensing offer to Defendant for the whole AMR-WB pool, demanding royalties of USD 0.26 per mobile device that implemented the standard and was produced or marketed in countries in which the SEP was in force, and complying with Claimants existing licensing practice (accessible on the Internet and already implemented in 12 licensing agreements) was declared FRAND. While the court considered that comparable licensing agreements “represent an important indicator of the adequacy of the license terms offered” it clarified that the significance of a patent pool as an indication of FRAND conformity is “limited”. Defendant and the Intervener failed to show that the portfolio comprised (non-used) non-SEPs as well. Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 225 et seq. On the relevance of the SIPRO-pool royalty rates, cf. LG Düsseldorf, 31 March 2016 – Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 245-248. On the facts indicating that a worldwide license was appropriate LG Düsseldorf, 31 March 2016 – Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 249-255. They further failed to show that the pre-concluded licensing agreements provided no valid basis for comparison as they were concluded under the threat of pending litigation. [12] In order to fulfill the Huawei obligation of specifying the calculation of royalties, the SEP proprietor only has to provide the information necessary to determine the amount of royalties to be paid, e.g. the royalty per unit and the products covered by the license. While the court left undecided whether additional indications, e.g. concerning the FRAND character of the licensing offer, are necessary to comply with Huawei, it found that the SEP proprietor’s duty to inform should not be interpreted too strictly as FRAND does regularly encompass a range of values that will be fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory. [13] Claimant’s licensing offer presented to the Intervener was considered as being FRAND for the same reasons. Furthermore, the court emphasized that the contractual clause allowing for judicial review of the royalties offered could be a possible way to avoid abusive practices and to ensure that licensing offers correspond to FRAND terms. [14]
    3. The standard implementer’s reaction
      The court found that the more details the infringement notification contains, the less time remains for the standard user to examine the patent(s) at issue and to express its willingness to conclude a licensing agreement on FRAND terms. In the present case, Defendant did not comply with Huawei because it took more than five months to react and then only asked for proof of the alleged infringement. Given this excessive delay, the court did not decide whether Defendant’s reaction satisfied the Huawei requirements in terms of content. It denied the possibility to remedy a belated reaction by a subsequent declaration of willingness to license. On the contrary, and as a consequence of the patent user’s non-compliance, the SEP proprietor may continue the infringement action without violating Article 102 TFEU, but it still has to grant licenses on FRAND terms. [15] Whether the Intervener satisfied the ECJ criteria was left undecided. [16] The court made some further remarks of interest as to the Huawei requirements concerning the standard implementer: Firstly, it left undecided whether the obligation of the patent user to diligently respond is caused also by a (potentially) non-FRAND licensing offer. [17] Secondly, a standard user who has taken a license is not prevented from challenging validity and essentiality of the SEP afterwards, nor is the SEP proprietor entitled to terminate the license if such a challenge takes place. However, the standard implementer may not delay the (unconditional) conclusion of the licensing agreement until a final court decision on these issues has been rendered. While validity and standard-essentiality is litigated, the licensee remains obliged to pay royalties and it cannot request to insert into the licensing contract a clause entitling it to reclaim paid royalties in case of its success in court. [18] Thirdly, as, in the present case, no specific counter-offers satisfying FRAND terms were submitted and Defendant could not establish that Claimant had waived this requirement the court did not decide on whether a SEP proprietor is obliged to negotiate further although itself and the patent user have submitted FRAND offers. [19] None of the counter-offers of the Intervener were FRAND in terms of content. They were either inadmissibly limited to Germany, contained no precise royalty, were not submitted “promptly” because the standard user had waited until the oral pleadings in the parallel procedure, or they proposed royalties per device which the court considered as too low. [20] While it was therefore held to be irrelevant whether, in the first place, the Intervener duly declared its willingness to license, the court emphasized that the Intervener’s readiness to take a license only after the SEP infringement was determined in court did not satisfy the Huawei standard of conduct. [21] Moreover, the obligation imposed by Huawei to provide appropriate security and to render account was not fulfilled. While Defendant refrained from taking any of these actions, the Intervener waited several months after the counter-offers were refused in order to submit its bank “guarantee of payment”, which was not recognized as “appropriate security” due to its amount and its limitation to acts of use in Germany. [22] Neither was the Intervener’s initial proposal to have the security—if requested by Claimant—determined by an arbitration tribunal or by an English court accepted as an appropriate way to provide security. [23]
  3. Other important issues
    According to the court, the Huawei requirements apply to both non-practicing entities and other market participants. [24] Suing a network operator instead of the undertakings producing devices operating in the network constitutes (at least under the circumstances of this case and absent selective enforcement) no violation of competition law even though this strategy might aim at using the action against the network operator as a “lever” to obtain licensing commitments from the device suppliers. On the other hand, device manufacturers are entitled to a FRAND license as well and can raise the FRAND defense if such a license is not granted. In consequence, the court perceives a fair balance of interests as the SEP proprietor can choose on which level of the chain of production to sue while the undertakings in the chain of production can choose on which level to take a license. [25] Furthermore, no patent ambush-defense based on § 242 BGB could be raised because, firstly, Defendant and the Intervener could not substantiate the alleged patent ambush by “Y” and “C”, being the original SEP proprietors; secondly, they could not show that a different patent declaration conduct would have resulted in a different version of the standard excluding the patent-in-suit; thirdly, the alleged patent ambush would, arguably, have resulted only in a FRAND-licensing obligation and, fourthly, Claimant had declared its willingness to grant a license on FRAND terms anyway. [26]
  • [1] This is the date mentioned by the Court although “23 January 2015” may seem more plausible and the date given by the Court may result from a scrivener’s error.
  • [2] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 184
  • [3] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 187
  • [4] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 195 et seq.
  • [5] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 208-210
  • [6] Case No. 4a O 126/14, para. IV, 3, a, bb, 2, c
  • [7] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 193
  • [8] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 270 et seq.
  • [9] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 222 et seq.
  • [10] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 225 et seq.
  • [11] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 225 et seq. On the relevance of the SIPRO-pool royalty rates, cf. LG Düsseldorf, 31 March 2016 – Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 245-248. On the facts indicating that a worldwide license was appropriate LG Düsseldorf, 31 March 2016 – Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 249-255.
  • [12] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 234-242. The court argued that it is questionable in principle how much the threat of a claim for injunctive relief can (inadmissibly) affect license agreement negotiations, since the Orange Book case law of the BGH (German Federal Court of Justice), the Motorola decision of the European Commission, and now the CJEU judgment in the Huawei Technologies/ZTE Case could be and can be invoked against inappropriate demands that are in breach of antitrust law.
  • [13] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 256 et seq.
  • [14] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 279 et seq.
  • [15] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 214-220
  • [16] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 214-220; 278
  • [17] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 266
  • [18] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 185 et seq.; 262 et seq.
  • [19] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 264
  • [20] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 291 et seq.
  • [21] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 278
  • [22] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 267 et seq.; 299 et seq.
  • [23] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 304
  • [24] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 189
  • [25] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 309-313
  • [26] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 317 et seq.


Unwired Planet v Samsung

19 1月 2016 - Case No. 4b O 120/14

  1. Facts
    Since 7 March 2014 Claimant, a non-practicing entity, is the proprietor of European patent EP D, allegedly covering a feature of the GSM standard, originally granted to the Intervener, and subsequently transferred to company “I”. Defendants, belonging to the K-group, produce and market GSM- and UMTS-based devices.
    In an agreement as of 26 October 2011, the Intervener granted a worldwide non-exclusive license to Qualcomm Inc., being, in turn, allowed to grant sub-licenses to its customers. Furthermore, by agreement as of 1 February 2014 one of the Defendants was granted a worldwide, non-exclusive license to patents owned by the Intervener.
    On 10 January 2013, the Intervener concluded a so-called “Master Sales Agreement” (MSA), concerning the exploitation of a portfolio of more than two thousand patents, with “E”, “F” and its subsidiaries. Claimant became a party to the MSA later on. After its accession to the MSA, “I”, by assuming the existing FRAND obligation of the Intervener in accordance with the MSA, made a separate FRAND commitment towards ETSI on 14 June 2013 and declared, in an agreement as of 13 February 2013, to ensure that subsequent acquirers equally assume this obligation. Accordingly, after the transfer of patent EP D to Claimant the latter made, on 6 March 2014, a separate commitment towards ETSI declaring to be willing to grant licenses on FRAND terms with regard to, inter alia, patent EP D.
    In order to implement the MSA the parties concluded three transfer agreements. Claimant argues that the Intervener validly transferred a part of its patent portfolio, including patent EP D, by agreement as of 11 February 2013 to undertaking “B”. On 13 February 2013, “B”, in turn, transferred the patent portfolio, including patent EP D, to “I”. After successfully requesting, on 3 September 2013, an amendment of the patent register, being performed on 24 October 2013, “I” transferred, on 27 February 2014, the patent portfolio, including patent EP D, to Claimant. Claimant successfully requested, on 7 March 2014, an amendment of the patent register which was performed on 3 July 2014.
    As a reaction to Claimant’s public license proposal including a royalty of USD 0.75 per mobile device Defendants allegedly submitted a counter-offer but no licensing agreement was concluded.
  2. Court’s reasoning
    1. Market power
      The court stressed that an application of Article 102 TFEU does not automatically result from SEP ownership but that it requires proof of a dominant position on the relevant market being conveyed by the SEP in question. Due to the fact that products not implementing the patent-in-suit could not effectively compete on the relevant market because of GSM being a key feature for such products market power of Claimant was affirmed. [73]
    2. Applicability of the Huawei rules to damages and the rendering of accounts
      While the Huawei rules of conduct apply to actions for injunction, recall and destruction of products they are, in principle, not directly applicable to claims for damages and the rendering of accounts. [74] Nor is it necessarily abusive for a SEP proprietor to bring an action for damages and the rendering of accounts without having notified the standard implementer of an infringement and without having offered a FRAND license beforehand. The Huawei obligations do, however, have an indirect impact on the extent to which damages and the rendering of accounts are due: Where the SEP proprietor fails to grant a FRAND license although he has made a FRAND commitment and the standard implementer has expressed its readiness to take a license, damages are limited to the FRAND royalty level but only for the period after the SEP proprietor’s abusive refusal to license. [75] Claims for information and the rendering of accounts must, in this event, be limited to what is necessary for determining FRAND-based damages. [76]
    3. Cap on damages/rendering of accounts in casu
      In casu Defendant could not show that he had complied with its Huawei obligation to sufficiently express its willingness to take a FRAND license. In consequence, no cap on Claimant’s claim for damages was deemed appropriate. [76]
  3. Other important issues
    Whether a SEP proprietor is free to enforce its patent in court or whether the proprietor is obliged to grant a FRAND license has to be determined under Art. 102 TFEU, not Art. 101 TFEU. [77] A FRAND declaration is not an unconditional offer made by the patent proprietor to enter into a licensing agreement with anyone willing to take a license, it merely expresses that the proprietor is, in principle, ready to grant a FRAND license if the patent in question conveys market dominance. As such, the FRAND commitment merely specifies a duty to license which competition law would impose anyway but it has an impact on the patent owner’s obligations under Art. 102 TFEU. [78]
    As regards the transfer of a SEP from the original patent proprietor to a non-practicing entity, registration in the patent register in accordance with § 30 (3) PatG establishes—also with regard to claims for damages and the rendering of accounts—presumption of ownership, allowing the proprietor to enforce all rights derived from the SEP as long as the presumption has not been successfully rebutted by Defendants. The non-registration of “B” as an interim owner was considered irrelevant under the circumstances of the present case (but not generally). Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. I, 1-2
    The MSA and the subsequent transfer agreements neither violate the German provisions on merger control (§§ 35-43 GWB) since, in any case, merger control thresholds are not reached.
    Nor was a violation of the European provisions on anticompetitive agreements (Article 101 TFEU) or on the abuse of a dominant position (Article 102 TFEU) found. Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. I, 4, a-c In particular, the transactions did not aim at enforcing non-FRAND royalties or at discriminating between licensees and the agreements framing the transactions ensured that the acquirers of the relevant patents were bound by (the initial) FRAND commitments. [79] The acquirer of a SEP is neither obliged to continue the transferor’s licensing practice in an unmodified manner nor to implement exactly the same conditions in all licensing agreements, provided the conditions are FRAND and no unjustified discrimination takes place. It is not abusive in itself for a (former) SEP proprietor to split its portfolio and to transfer the parts to several acquirers, thereby trying to arrive at higher overall royalties being paid for the portfolio. Nor is a resulting increase in the number of licenses a standard implementer has to take per se inacceptable. However, licensing conditions are FRAND only if the cumulative royalty level resulting from the licensing of all pertinent SEPs is not excessive. Putting it differently, where the royalty level for the entire portfolio was below or at the lower end of the FRAND range, it is not abusive to arrive, by way of splitting the portfolio and licensing its parts separately, at a higher overall royalty level within the FRAND range. Furthermore, the transaction agreements did not amount to price fixing. Cf. for details LG Düsseldorf, 19 January 2016 - Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. I, 4, b, bb
  • [73] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. VII, 6, a
  • [74] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. VII, 6, b, aa, bb
  • [75] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. VII, 6, b, dd
  • [76] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. VII, 6, b, ee
  • [77] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. VII, 4
  • [78] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. VII, 5
  • [79] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. I, 4, b, aa
  • [80] Cf. for details LG Düsseldorf, 19 January 2016 - Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. I, 4, b, bb


Saint Lawrence v Vodafone 2

31 3月 2016 - Case No. 4a O 126/14

  1. Facts
    Since 28 August 2014 Claimant, a non-practicing entity, is the proprietor of the European patent EP J, originally granted to applicants “Y” and “C”, and allegedly covering part of the AMR-WB standard. Defendant is a company active in the telecommunications sector and which markets AMR-WB-based devices, inter alia devices produced by the Intervener in this case. After the adoption (“freeze”) of AMR-WB by ETSI on 10 April 2001, Claimant (who was not an ETSI member during the setting of the AMR-WB standard) made, on 29 May 2001, a commitment towards ETSI to grant licenses on FRAND terms inter alia for patent EP J. Claimant and its parent company “O” offer the SEP and all other patents of the same family to third parties by means of a portfolio license. Licensing conditions are accessible on the Internet and various producers in the sector have taken a license under these conditions.
    Prior to the submission of the patent infringement action on 23 July 2014 and to the advance payments on costs on 29 July 2014, Claimant alerted neither Defendant nor the manufacturer of the contested embodiments, who acted as an intervener in the present proceedings and became aware of the lawsuit in August 2014. By e-mails on 31 July and (as a reminder) on 9 December 2014, the first of which included a copy of the statement of claims and reached the defendant before it was formally served with the statement, Claimant notified the alleged patent violation to Defendant. After Defendant’s reply as of 12 January 2015, Claimant presented a draft licensing agreement to Defendant by letter as of 22 April 2015.
    On 9 December 2014, the Intervener declared willingness to take a license, inter alia for the patent-in-suit, provided infringement was found in court. It further declared that it would accept royalties determined by a court or arbitration tribunal. Claimant, in turn, offered a licensing agreement by letters as of 12 January 2015 and 25 March 2015 respectively. In the course of meetings taking place since 23 January 2014, This is the date mentioned by the court although “23 January 2015” may seem more plausible and the date given by the court may result from a scrivener’s error. Claimant offered a license to the Intervener. On 23 February 2015 and on 2 April 2015 respectively, the Intervener made two licensing offers, including third party determination (arbitration panel or English court) of the amount of royalty, for the whole German patent portfolio of Claimant. An additional offer for a licensing agreement, limited to Germany and implementing a royalty of USD 0.0055 per patent by reference to the “WCDMA Patent Pools”, was made by the Intervener on 6 March 2015 and 24 September 2015 respectively, but it was finally refused by Claimant on 4 October 2015. Moreover, the Intervener provided a bank “guarantee of payment” as of 3 September 2015, being modified by letter as of 10 November 2015, and also rendered account of past and prospective sales in Germany since 2011.
  2. Court’s reasoning
    The considerations of the court are almost exactly the same as those in the case LG Düsseldorf, 31 March 2016 – Case No. 4a O 73/14.
    1. Market power and notice of infringement
      The court leaves open the question of whether the SEP conferred market power to Claimant since it did, in any case, find no abuse of such potential market power. [2] The court declared the Huawei rules applicable to claims for the recall of products. [3]
      As regards the Huawei requirement to alert the standard user of the infringement, the decision arrived at various findings of interest: Firstly, the judges found that—in “non-transitional” cases where the lawsuit was brought after the Huawei decision—the infringement notification has to take place before the action is filed, or the latest before the advance payment on costs is made. In transitional cases, such as the present case, a delayed infringement notification, taking place after the advance payment on costs as well as the submission of the court action, but before the statement of claims is served, is admissible. [4] Moreover, an infringement notification could possibly be omitted (in particular) if—as in the present case—the patent user already disposes of all necessary information and lacks willingness to license. [5] In non-transitional cases, however, the court doubts whether it is possible to rectify an omitted infringement notification without withdrawing the action. [6]
      Secondly, the court specified the minimum content of the infringement notification which has to indicate at least the number of the patent, the contested embodiments and the alleged acts of use performed by the standard implementer. The court did not decide whether additional information has to be provided, in particular regarding the interpretation of the patent claims or on which part of the standard the patent reads, but it stated that such additional information is not harmful to the patent proprietor. [7]
      Lastly, the court detailed on the particular situation of the Intervener, being Defendant’s manufacturer and supplier in the present case: Even though a FRAND defense successfully raised by the Intervener would in general also cover subsequent levels of the distribution chain, the Huawei requirements apply only indirectly to suppliers of contested embodiments which have not been sued themselves. Accordingly, the SEP proprietor is not obliged to notify the patent infringement to third parties, but as soon as a request to grant a license on FRAND terms is submitted the (adapted) Huawei procedure applies. [8] In casu, no separate infringement notice vis-à-vis the Intervener was required since the Intervener was, since August 2014, aware of the action having been brought.
    2. The SEP owner’s licensing offer
      Since the patent user did not express its willingness to conclude a licensing agreement in due time, the court found Claimant to comply with the Huawei requirement to submit a licensing offer on FRAND terms even though the offer was made in the course of the ongoing litigation. For transitional cases, as the present one, this holds true even if infringement notification and court action take place at the same time. [9]
      Besides, the court analyzed under which circumstances licensing conditions can be considered as FRAND according to Huawei. In the opinion of the judges, the more licensing agreements implementing comparable terms the SEP proprietor has already concluded, the stronger is the presumption that these conditions are FRAND, unless factual reasons—which are to be demonstrated by the patent user—justify modified terms. Recognized commercial practice in the relevant sector has to be considered when defining the admissible scope of the licensing agreement. If patent portfolios are usually covered by group or worldwide licenses in the relevant market, a (worldwide) portfolio license will be FRAND unless the circumstances of the specific case, e.g. the SEP proprietor’s market activity being limited to one geographic market, require a modification. [10] Accordingly, Claimant’s (worldwide) licensing offer to Defendant for the whole AMR-WB pool, demanding royalties of USD 0.26 per mobile device that implemented the standard and was produced or marketed in countries in which the SEP was in force, and complying with Claimants existing licensing practice (accessible on the Internet and already implemented in 12 licensing agreements) was declared FRAND. While the court considered that comparable licensing agreements “represent an important indicator of the adequacy of the license terms offered” it clarified that the significance of a patent pool as an indication of FRAND conformity is “limited”. Defendant and the Intervener failed to show that the portfolio comprised (non-used) non-SEPs as well. Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 225 et seq. On the relevance of the SIPRO-pool royalty rates, cf. LG Düsseldorf, 31 March 2016 – Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 245-248. On the facts indicating that a worldwide license was appropriate LG Düsseldorf, 31 March 2016 – Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 249-255. They further failed to show that the pre-concluded licensing agreements provided no valid basis for comparison as they were concluded under the threat of pending litigation. [12]
      In order to fulfill the Huawei obligation of specifying the calculation of royalties, the SEP proprietor only has to provide the information necessary to determine the amount of royalties to be paid, e.g. the royalty per unit and the products covered by the license. While the court left undecided whether additional indications, e.g. concerning the FRAND character of the licensing offer, are necessary to comply with Huawei, it found that the SEP proprietor’s duty to inform should not be interpreted too strictly as FRAND does regularly encompass a range of values that will be fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory. [13]
      Claimant’s licensing offer presented to the Intervener was considered as being FRAND for the same reasons. Furthermore, the court emphasized that the contractual clause allowing for judicial review of the royalties offered could be a possible way to avoid abusive practices and to ensure that licensing offers correspond to FRAND terms. [14]
    3. The standard implementer’s reaction
      The court found that the more details the infringement notification contains, the less time remains for the standard user to examine the patent(s) at issue and to express its willingness to conclude a licensing agreement on FRAND terms. In the present case, Defendant did not comply with Huawei because it took more than five months to react and then only asked for proof of the alleged infringement. Given this excessive delay, the court did not decide whether Defendant’s reaction satisfied the Huawei requirements in terms of content. It denied the possibility to remedy a belated reaction by a subsequent declaration of willingness to license. On the contrary, and as a consequence of the patent user’s non-compliance, the SEP proprietor may continue the infringement action without violating Article 102 TFEU, but it still has to grant licenses on FRAND terms. [15] Whether the Intervener satisfied the ECJ criteria was left undecided. [16]
      The court made some further remarks of interest as to the Huawei requirements concerning the standard implementer: Firstly, it left undecided whether the obligation of the patent user to diligently respond is caused also by a (potentially) non-FRAND licensing offer. [17] Secondly, a standard user who has taken a license is not prevented from challenging validity and essentiality of the SEP afterwards, nor is the SEP proprietor entitled to terminate the license if such a challenge takes place. However, the standard implementer may not delay the (unconditional) conclusion of the licensing agreement until a final court decision on these issues has been rendered. While validity and standard-essentiality is litigated, the licensee remains obliged to pay royalties and it cannot request to insert into the licensing contract a clause entitling it to reclaim paid royalties in case of its success in court. [18] Thirdly, as, in the present case, no specific counter-offers satisfying FRAND terms were submitted and Defendant could not establish that Claimant had waived this requirement the court did not decide on whether a SEP proprietor is obliged to negotiate further although itself and the patent user have submitted FRAND offers. [19]
      None of the counter-offers of the Intervener were FRAND in terms of content. They were either inadmissibly limited to Germany, contained no precise royalty, were not submitted “promptly” because the standard user had waited until the oral pleadings in the parallel procedure, or they proposed royalties per device which the court considered as too low. [20] While it was therefore held to be irrelevant whether, in the first place, the Intervener duly declared its willingness to license, the court emphasized that the Intervener’s readiness to take a license only after the SEP infringement was determined in court did not satisfy the Huawei standard of conduct. [21]
      Moreover, the obligation imposed by Huawei to provide appropriate security and to render account was not fulfilled. While Defendant refrained from taking any of these actions, the Intervener waited several months after the counter-offers were refused in order to submit its bank “guarantee of payment”, which was not recognized as “appropriate security” due to its amount and its limitation to acts of use in Germany. [22] Neither was the Intervener’s initial proposal to have the security—if requested by Claimant—determined by an arbitration tribunal or by an English court accepted as an appropriate way to provide security. [23]
  3. Other important issues
    According to the court, the Huawei requirements apply to both non-practicing entities and other market participants. [24]
    Suing a network operator instead of the undertakings producing devices operating in the network constitutes (at least under the circumstances of this case and absent selective enforcement) no violation of competition law even though this strategy might aim at using the action against the network operator as a “lever” to obtain licensing commitments from the device suppliers. On the other hand, device manufacturers are entitled to a FRAND license as well and can raise the FRAND defense if such a license is not granted. In consequence, the court perceives a fair balance of interests as the SEP proprietor can choose on which level of the chain of production to sue while the undertakings in the chain of production can choose on which level to take a license. [25]
    Furthermore, no patent ambush-defense based on § 242 BGB could be raised because, firstly, Defendant and the Intervener could not substantiate the alleged patent ambush by “Y” and “C”, being the original SEP proprietors; secondly, they could not show that a different patent declaration conduct would have resulted in a different version of the standard excluding the patent-in-suit; thirdly, the alleged patent ambush would, arguably, have resulted only in a FRAND-licensing obligation and, fourthly, Claimant had declared its willingness to grant a license on FRAND terms anyway. [26]
  • [1] This is the date mentioned by the court although “23 January 2015” may seem more plausible and the date given by the court may result from a scrivener’s error.
  • [2] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 184
  • [3] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 187
  • [4] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 195 et seq.
  • [5] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 208-210
  • [6] Case No. 4a O 126/14, para. IV, 3, a, bb, 2, c
  • [7] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 193
  • [8] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 270 et seq.
  • [9] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 222 et seq.
  • [10] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 225 et seq.
  • [11] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 225 et seq. On the relevance of the SIPRO-pool royalty rates, cf. LG Düsseldorf, 31 March 2016 – Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 245-248. On the facts indicating that a worldwide license was appropriate LG Düsseldorf, 31 March 2016 – Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 249-255.
  • [12] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 234-242. The court argued that it is questionable in principle how much the threat of a claim for injunctive relief can (inadmissibly) affect license agreement negotiations, since the Orange Book case law of the BGH (German Federal Court of Justice), the Motorola decision of the European Commission, and now the CJEU judgment in the Huawei Technologies/ZTE Case could be and can be invoked against inappropriate demands that are in breach of antitrust law.
  • [13] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 256 et seq.
  • [14] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 279 et seq.
  • [15] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 214-220
  • [16] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 214-220; 278
  • [17] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 266
  • [18] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 185 et seq.; 262 et seq.
  • [19] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 264.
  • [20] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 291 et seq.
  • [21] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 278
  • [22] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 267 et seq.; 299 et seq.
  • [23] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 304
  • [24] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 189
  • [25] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 309-313
  • [26] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 317 et seq.


France Brevets v HTC

26 3月 2015 - Case No. 4b O 140/13

A. Facts

The Claimant is a patent assertion entity established by the French StateFrance Brevets v HTC, Landgericht Düsseldorf, judgement dated 26 March 2015, Case-No. 4b O 140/13, para. 18. The Claimant was granted an exclusive licence by a company previously called Inside Technologies S.A. (SEP holder) for a European patent essential (Standard Essential Patent or SEP) for the implementation of the Standard LL V11.0.0, 2011-09 (LL standard) which was developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) [2] . The SEP holder had made an undertaking towards ETSI to make its SEP accessible to users on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms and conditions [3] . The LL standard enables applications of the so-called “Near field Communication” (NFC) technology to run on smartphones over the phone’s SIM-card [4] . NFC-applications can alternatively be implemented on smartphones also by a so-called “Smartcard”, or so-called “embedded secure elements” [5] .

The Defendant is the German subsidiary of an international manufacturer of smartphones that incorporate a so-called “NFC-controller” implementing the LL standard [6] The Defendant promotes the offering and sale of smartphones manufactured by its parent company in Germany [7] .

The Claimant brought an action for infringement of the German part of the SEP in question against the Defendant before the District Court (Landgericht) of Düsseldorf (Court), requesting for injunctive relief, information and rendering of accounts [8] . The Claimant also sought for a declaratory judgment on the Defendant’s liability for damages on the merits [8] .

Against these claims, the Defendant raised inter alia a defence based on antitrust considerations; basically, it argued that the Claimant’s request for injunctive relief constitutes an abuse of market power conferred to the Claimant by the SEP in suit in breach of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (antitrust defence) [9] . The Defendant also requested the Court to stay its proceedings, until the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) rendered its final decision in the matter Huawei v ZTE which concerned the availability of injunctive relief to SEP holders [10] .

The Court dismissed the Defendant’s request to order a stay of the proceedings [11] and granted the Claimant’s motions to the full extent. In its analysis regarding to the antitrust defence, the Court took into account the opinion delivered by Advocate General Wathelet in the matter Huawei v ZTE (Wathelet opinion) [12] , before the final decision of the CJEU was delivered on 16th July 2015France Brevets v HTC, Landgericht Düsseldorf, judgement dated 26 March 2015, Case-No. 4b O 140/13, para. 197 et seqq.

 

B. Court’s reasoning

As a starting point, the Court made clear that an entity granted an exclusive licence for a SEP is entitled to all rights arising from the patent, including claims for injunctive relief as well as claims for damages, information and rendering of accounts [14] .

Having said that, the Court pointed out that the protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs) is a high priority; IPRs are expressly protected under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (Article 17 Sec. 2), which also guarantees right holders access to justice (Article 47). Limitations of these rights can be justified only by antirust rules for the protection of general public interest, particularly Article 102 TFEU [15] .

Following the Wathelet opinion, the Court found that a dominant position of the Claimant, which is re-quired for the implementation of Article 102 TFEU, cannot be established solely on grounds of its legal position with respect to the SEP in suit [16] . In the Court’s view, not every SEP confers market power relevant from an antitrust perspective to its holder [16] . Moreover, it has to be examined on a case-by-case basis whether the technical teachings protected by the SEP actually establish such market power [16] .

Further, the Court held that ownership of a SEP does not give rise to the presumption that market power exists [17] . Standards, particularly in the telecommunications sector, refer also to technical functionalities which are of secondary importance to the relevant market; with respect to such functionalities, there are no grounds for a presumption that the SEP holder has market power [17] . Insofar, the party asserting the existence of market power must plead and establish the relevant facts in trial [17] .

With respect to IPRs, the relevant market from an antitrust perspective is not the licensing market, but the downstream product market [18] . Looking at SEPs, relevant is the market in which products implement-ing the respective standard are offered [19] . Accordingly, the Court found that the relevant market in the present case is the smartphone market, because the NFC technology is almost solely used in smartphones [20] .

Since the NFC technology does not apply to basic functionalities of smartphones and is, therefore, no prerequisite for market entry, market power could only be established, if smartphones that do not use the teachings of a SEP could not compete in the market with products implementing this patent [21] .

In the eyes of the Court, this was not the case. The SEP in suit (and the LL Standard) enable NFC-applications to run over smartphones’ SIM-card. However, NFC-applications can alternatively also run over so-called “Smartcards” or “embedded secure elements”. The Defendant could not establish that NFC-applications running over the SEP in suit have reached market penetration to the extent that market power could be achieved [22] . On the contrary, smartphone byers do not appear to base their purchase decision on which of the three available technical solutions for enabling NFC-applications the smartphone uses [22] .

  • [1] France Brevets v HTC, Landgericht Düsseldorf, judgement dated 26 March 2015, Case-No. 4b O 140/13, para. 18
  • [2] Ibid, paras. 19, 20, 24 and 26
  • [3] Ibid, para. 22
  • [4] Ibid, para. 212
  • [5] Ibid, para. 213
  • [6] Ibid, para. 22.
  • [7] Ibid, paras. 151 et seq
  • [8] Ibid, para. 3
  • [9] Ibid, para. 46
  • [10] Ibid, para. 38
  • [11] Ibid, para. 219
  • [12] Opinion of Advocate General Wathelet delivered on 20 November 2014, ECLI:EU:C:2014:2391
  • [13] France Brevets v HTC, Landgericht Düsseldorf, judgement dated 26 March 2015, Case-No. 4b O 140/13, para. 197 et seqq
  • [14] Ibid, para. 61
  • [15] Ibid, para. 197
  • [16] Ibid, para. 199
  • [17] Ibid, para. 201
  • [18] Ibid, para. 204
  • [19] Ibid, para. 205
  • [20] Ibid, para. 206
  • [21] Ibid, para. 208
  • [22] Ibid, para. 217


District Court, LG Düsseldorf

11 7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) [1] . 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 [2] .

The Defendant offers communication services in Germany to retail and wholesale clients, including DSL connections using the standards ADSL2+ and VDSL2 [3] .

The Intervener supplies the Defendant with equipment (especially DSL transceivers and DSL Boards), allowing network services based on the above standards [3] .

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) [4] . 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 [5] . 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 [6] . Taking the ongoing liability proceedings in Germany into account, the Dublin High Court stayed its proceedings [6] .

In September 2017, the Claimant brought a second action against the Defendant before the District Court of Düsseldorf, requesting for injunctive relief (injunction proceedings) [7] . In February 2018, the Claimant made another licensing offer to the Defendant in the pending injunction proceedings [5] .

With the present judgment, the Court dismissed Claimant’s action in the injunction proceedings [8] .


B. Court’s reasoning

Although the Court held that the services offered by the Defendant infringe the SEP in suit [9] , it found that the Claimant cannot enforce its patent rights for the time being [10] , 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) [8] .

1. Dominant market position

The Court found that the Claimant holds a dominant market position in terms of Article 102 TFEU [12] .

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 [13] . Each SEP outlines an own relevant (licensing) market, unless – from the SEP users’ perspective – equivalent alternative technologies for the same technical problem exist [14] . 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 [15] , it defined the relevant market as the market for products and services allowing for internet connections through DSL technology [16] .

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 [17] . 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 [17] . 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 [17] .

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 [17] . 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) [17] . 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 [17] .

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 [18] .

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 [19] . 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 [20] .

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 [21] .

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 [22] . 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 [22] .

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 [23] . 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 [23] . 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 [23] .

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) [24] . 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) [24] . 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 [24] .

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 [25] .

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 [26] .

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 [27] . Given the circumstances of the specific case, even an implicit behaviour can suffice [27] .

In terms of timeliness, the Court held that a strict deadline, within which the SEP user ought to make its declaration, cannot be set [28] . The respective time frame must be determined on a case-by-case basis under consideration of the circumstances of each case [28] . 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 [28] . 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 [28] .

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 [29] . 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 [30] .

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 [31] .

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 [32] . 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 [5] .

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 [33] . 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 [34] .

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 [35] . 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 [35] . 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 [35] . In this context, the Court explained that failure to meet the Huawei obligations does not permanently impair SEP holder’s rights [36] . 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 [37] .

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 [7] . Nevertheless, the Court left this question open, because, in its eyes, the Claimant’s offer was not FRAND in terms of content [38] .

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 [39] . In the Court’s view, Claimant’s offer was anyway both not fair and discriminatory [40] .

Fair and reasonable terms

The Court held that the licensing terms offered by the Claimant to the Defendant were not fair and reasonable [41] .

First, the terms did not adequately consider the effects of patent exhaustion [42] . As a rule, FRAND requires licensing offers to contain respective provisions [43] . 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 [44] .

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 [45] . The Defendant would be obliged to pay royalties for past uses, although it is not clear whether the Claimant is entitled to such payments [46] .

Third, the Court found that the exclusion of the Defendant’s wholesale business from Claimant’s licensing offer was also not fair [47] . According to the principle of contractual autonomy, patent holders are free to choose to which stage of the distribution chain they offer licences [48] . 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 [48] .

Non-discrimination

Besides from the above, the Court ruled that the Claimant’s offer was discriminatory [49] .

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 [39] . 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) [50] .

Furthermore, the Court explained that the non-discriminatory element of FRAND does not oblige the SEP holder to treat all users uniformly [51] . The respective obligation applies only to similarly situated users, whereas exceptions are allowed, provided that a different treatment is justified [51] . 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 [52] .

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 [53] . 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 [54] .

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 [55] . 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 [56] . 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 [57] .

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 [58] . 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 [58] . 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) [58] . 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 [58] . 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 [59] .

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 [60] . 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 [61] . 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 [62] .

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 [63] .


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 [64] .

  • [1] District Court of Düsseldorf, 11 July 2018, Case-No. 4c O 81/17Ibid, paras. 3 and 82.
  • [2] Ibid, para. 13.
  • [3] Ibid, para. 12.
  • [4] Ibid, paras. 14 and 211.
  • [5] Ibid, para. 15.
  • [6] Ibid, para. 16.
  • [7] Ibid, para. 236.
  • [8] Ibid, paras. 140 and 313 et seqq.
  • [9] Ibid, paras. 114 et seqq.
  • [10] Ibid, paras. 60 and 140.
  • [11] Huaweiv ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13.
  • [12] Ibid, para. 142.
  • [13] Ibid, para. 148.
  • [14] Ibid, paras. 153 and 146.
  • [15] Ibid, paras. 159 - 181.
  • [16] Ibid, para. 158.
  • [17] Ibid, para. 147.
  • [18] Ibid, paras. 183 et seqq.
  • [19] Ibid, para. 191.
  • [20] Ibid, para. 188.
  • [21] Ibid, paras. 195 et seqq.
  • [22] Ibid, para. 199.
  • [23] Ibid, para. 198.
  • [24] Ibid, para. 200.
  • [25] Ibid, para. 203.
  • [26] Ibid, para. 205.
  • [27] Ibid, para. 208.
  • [28] Ibid, para. 207.
  • [29] Ibid, para. 210.
  • [30] Ibid, para. 212.
  • [31] Ibid, paras. 215 et seq.
  • [32] Ibid, para. 220.
  • [33] Ibid, paras. 222 et seqq.
  • [34] Ibid, para. 225.
  • [35] Ibid, para. 233.
  • [36] Ibid, para. 228.
  • [37] Ibid, para. 230.
  • [38] Ibid, para. 237.
  • [39] Ibid. para. 241.
  • [40] Ibid, para. 242.
  • [41] Ibid, paras. 283 et seqq.
  • [42] Ibid, para. 285.
  • [43] Ibid, para. 288.
  • [44] Ibid, paras. 292 et seq.
  • [45] Ibid, paras. 298 et seqq.
  • [46] Ibid, para. 301.
  • [47] Ibid, para. 306.
  • [48] Ibid, para. 311.
  • [49] Ibid, para. 271.
  • [50] Ibid, para. 250.
  • [51] Ibid, para. 248.
  • [52] Ibid, para. 267.
  • [53] Ibid, paras. 256 and 259 et seq.
  • [54] Ibid, para. 262.
  • [55] bid, paras. 258 and 264.
  • [56] Ibid, paras. 263 and 265.
  • [57] Ibid, para. 265.
  • [58] Ibid, para. 273.
  • [59] Ibid, para. 274.
  • [60] Ibid, para. 276.
  • [61] Ibid, para. 277.
  • [62] Ibid, para. 281.
  • [63] Ibid, para. 315.
  • [64] Ibid, paras. 75 et seq.


Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (MPEG-LA) v ZTE

9 11月 2018 - Case No. 4a O 15/17

A. Facts

The Claimant, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung, holds a patent essential to the practice of the AVC/H.264 standard concerning the compression of video data (Standard Essential Patent of SEP) [1] . The patent holder committed towards the relevant standardization body to make this patent accessible to users on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms and conditions. The Claimant contributed the SEP in question to a patent pool administered by MPEG LA LLC (MPEG LA), comprising more the 5,000 patents referring to the AVC/H.264 standard (MPEG LA pool) [2] .

The Defendant, a German subsidiary of a Chinese group of companies, sells – among other things – mobile phones manufactured by its parent company (parent company) which practise the AVC/H.264 standard in Germany [3] .

MPEG LA uses a standard licensing agreement, which is publicly available at its website [4] . It has signed licensing agreements with approx. 1,400 implementers [4] .

By e-mail dated 8 September 2011, MPEG LA sent a copy of its standard licensing agreement to the Defendant’s parent company and informed the latter that its “mobile handset and tablet products” infringe patents included in its “AVC patent portfolio” (without indicating, however, either the concrete patent numbers or the specific infringing products) [5] .

On 15 September 2011, the parent company asked MPEG LA to send any relevant documents by mail to its IPR Manager [6] . A copy of MPEG LA’s standard licensing agreement reached the parent company in late September 2011 [7] .

In 2012, the parent company acquired patents included in the MPEG LA pool [2] .

Since MPEG-LA and the parent company could not reach an agreement on a licence covering the MPEG LA pool [8] , the Claimant brought an action against the Defendant before the District Court of Düsseldorf in Germany (Court), requesting for injunctive relief, information and rendering of accounts, the destruction and the recall of infringing products as well as for a declaratory judgement confirming Defendant’s liability for damages on the merits [9] .

During the proceedings, the Defendant declared its willingness to obtain a licence for the patent in suit and other SEPs of the Claimant referring to the AVC/H.264 standard [10] . Moreover, the Defendant sent to MPEG LA two signed copies of MPEG LA’s standard licensing agreement, along with a statement of accounts of its past sales and a bank guarantee [11] . MPEG LA did not countersign this agreement. It insisted, instead, on a licence that would cover all companies belonging to the same group as the Defendant [12] .

With the present judgment, the Court granted Claimant’s requests.


B. Court’s reasoning

The Court held that the mobile phones sold by the Defendant in Germany infringe Claimant’s SEP in suit [13] . It also found that by filing the present suit the Claimant did not abuse its dominant market position in violation of Article 102 of the Treaty for the Functioning of the EU (TFEU), since it had fully complied with the conduct obligations stipulated by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in the matter Huawei v ZTE [14] (Huawei obligations or framework) with respect to dominant undertakings [15] .

1. Dominant market position

The Court found that the Claimant holds a dominant market position in terms of Article 102 TFEU [16] .

The Court defined the relevant market for the assessment of dominance as the market for licences for any given patent [17] . A dominant market position can further also exist, when the patent holder can hinder competition in downstream markets for standard-compliant products and services [17] .

The Court made, however, clear that ownership of a SEP does not per se establish market dominance [18] . A dominant market position is given, when the use of the SEP is required for entering the market [18] . The same is true, if the patent user could not market competitive products or services, without access to the respective SEP [18] .

Based on these considerations, the Court saw no ‘reasonable’ doubt that the Claimant was a dominant undertaking: It was undisputed that almost all mobile phones available worldwide use the AVC/H.264 standard and that no “realistic” alternative to the MPEG LA pool existed in the licensing market for patents essential to this standard [19] .

2. Huawei framework

The Court found, however, that the Claimant did not abuse its dominant position by suing the Defendant in the present case, since its conduct was in line with the Huawei framework [20] . The Huawei framework establishes mutual conduct obligations for both SEP holders and SEP users, which need to be fulfilled step by step and one after another (meaning that each party’s obligation to act arises only after the other party has fulfilled its own obligation) [21] . Subject to the Huawei framework is not only the patent holder’s claim for injunctive relief, but also the claim for the destruction of infringing products [22] .

In this context, the Court pointed out that the Huawei framework applies, irrespective of whether a ‘well-established’ licensing practice concerning the asserted patents already existed before the CJEU delivered the Huawei judgment, or not [23] . The Claimant had argued that, in the present case, the Court should apply the (German) legal standard that preceded the Huawei framework (which was based on the so-called ‘Orange-Book-Standard’ ruling of the Federal Supreme Court [24] ), since with respect to the SEP in suit a ‘routine’ practice already existed prior to the Huawei judgement [25] . The Court explained that the Huawei judgment does not contain either an explicit or an implicit limitation of its scope of application [26] . Furthermore, even if a ‘well-established’ licensing practice existed, the need to apply the Huawei framework will still be given, in order to bridge the nevertheless existing information gap between patent holder and implementer concerning the (potential) infringement of SEPs [27] . Finally, it would be very challenging for courts to distinguish whether a ‘well-established’ licensing practice excluding the application of the Huawei framework is at hand, or not [28] . Notwithstanding the above, according to the Court, the actual licensing practice of the patent holder could be of ‘particular significance’ when assessing the compliance of the latter with the Huawei obligations: Such practice could, for instance, serve as an indicator of the appropriateness of SEP holder’s licensing offer to the implementer [29] .

Having said that, the Court found no flaws in Claimant’s conduct. In the Court’s view, the Claimant had met its Huawei obligation to notify the Defendant about the infringement of its patent as well as the obligation to present the Defendant with a written licensing offer covering also the patent in suit. The Defendant, on the other hand, adequately expressed its willingness to enter into a licence, failed, however, to make a FRAND counter-offer to the Claimant. Since an adequate counter-offer was missing, the Court did not take up the question whether the bank guarantee provided by the Claimant to MPEG LA constitutes an adequate security in terms of the Huawei framework [30] .

Notification of infringement

The Court ruled that the Claimant had adequately notified the Defendant about the infringement of the SEP in suit through the e-mail sent by MPEG LA to the parent company on 8 September 2011 [31] .

The fact that this e-mail was not addressed to the Defendant, but to the parent company, did not raise any concerns as to the compatibility of the notification with the Huawei framework. The Court explained that a notification of infringement addressed only to the parent company of a group of companies is sufficient, as far as it can be assumed that the notification will be forwarded to the subsidiaries con­cerned [32] . The sole fact that a company belongs to a group justifies such an assumption, unless indications to the contrary exist [32] . This was, however, not the case here.

Besides that, the Court did not consider it inappropriate that the aforementioned e-mail was not sent to the parent company by the Claimant, but by MPEG LA (which is not the holder of the SEP in suit) [33] . The Court held that MPEG LA is entitled to perform legal actions in connection with the licensing of the MPEG LA pool on behalf of the Claimant [34] . The Defendant could not contest that this was not the case, since MPEG LA’s standard licensing agreement, which it is aware of, contains an indication about MPEG LA’s respective capacity [35] . In addition, the Defendant’s parent company was also aware of MPEG LA’s capacity to act on behalf of the Claimant, since it joined the MPEG LA pool as a patent holder in 2012 [36] .

The Court further ruled that, in terms of content, a notification of infringement must – at least – name the patent in suit (including the patent number) and indicate the contested embodiments as well as the (allegedly) infringing acts of use [37] . A detailed (technical and/or legal) explanation of the infringement is not required; the implementer needs just to be put in the position to assess the infringement allegations, if necessary, by seeking expert advice [38] . A notification of infringement is, therefore, not necessary, when it constitutes just a ‘pointless formality’ [38] . This is true, when according to the overall circumstances of the case, one can safely assume that the implementer is aware of the infringement, so that claiming that the SEP holder failed to provide adequate notification prior to the initiation of court proceedings would appear to be abusive [38] . The respective test is, however, subject to strict conditions [38] .

Based on the above considerations, the Court found that MPEG LA’s e-mail to the parent company dated 8 September 2011 should be considered – as an exception – to constitute a sufficient notification of infringement, although it did not contain the minimum information required (particularly the patent number and a reference to the specific infringing embodiments) [39] . The overall circumstances of the case (especially the fact that the parent company acquired patents included in the MPEG LA pool in 2012 and had also previously been in contact with MPEG LA regarding a standard licensing agreement) [40] , give rise to the assumption that the parent company had already been aware of the MPEG LA pool and the fact that AVC/H.264-compliant products need to be licensed [41] .

Willingness to obtain a FRAND-licence

The Court held that the parent company had adequately expressed its willingness to obtain a FRAND-licence through the e-mail sent to MPEG LA on 15 September 2011 [42] .

In the eyes of the Court, this e-mail indicates the parent company’s intention to deal with issues concerning the licensing of patents referring to the AVC/H.264 standard. This is sufficient under the Huawei framework [43] . The implementer is not required to refer to a specific licensing agreement [43] .

SEP holder’s licensing offer

The Court further found that the standard licensing agreement sent by MPEG LA to the parent company presents an offer accountable to the Claimant which is in line with the Huawei framework in terms of both form and content [44] .

The fact that the offer was addressed to the parent company and not to the Defendant was not relevant, since the parties were discussing about a licensing agreement on group level and the parent company had itself requested to receive the draft agreement [45] .

Furthermore, the fact that the draft agreement sent to the parent company did not directly provide for the licensing of all subsidiaries (including the Defendant) was also not considered as harmful [46] . Insofar, the Court held that under the Huawei framework it is, as a rule, acceptable that the patent holder enters into licensing negotiations only with the parent company within a group of companies [47] . Whether subsidiaries can (or should) also be licensed, will be the object of these negotiations [48] . An exception would apply only then, when it is made clear already at the beginning of the licensing negotiations that the offer made to the parent company cannot include its subsidiaries [49] . This was, however, not the case here, since the standard licensing agreement sent to the parent company indicates MPEG LA’s willingness to grant licences also to the subsidiaries of the former [50] .

Besides that, the Court did not consider the fact that the standard licensing agreement sent to the parent company did not cover the sale of licensed products to wholesalers and retailers (but regarded only sales to end users) to be in conflict with the Huawei framework, although the Defendant was engaged also in this business [51] . According to the Court, sales to wholesalers and retailers would be covered by the effects of patent exhaustion, even without an express provision in a potential licensing agreement [52] .

The Court further ruled that the Huawei requirement, according to which the SEP holder’s licensing offer must specify the royalty calculation, was met, although the draft standard licensing agreement sent to the parent company does not contain detailed explanation of the way the royalties were calculated [53] . In the Court’s view, the respective explanation does not require a ‘strict mathematical derivation’ of the royalty; moreover, it will, as a rule, suffice to demonstrate that the (standard) royalty rates offered have been accepted in the market by presenting existing licensing agreements with third parties (comparable agreements) [54] . If a sufficient number of comparable licences is presented, then the SEP holder will usually not be required to provide further information regarding the appropriateness of its licensing offer [54] . It will need, however, to provide information on all essential comparable agreements, in order to rule out the risk that only agreements supporting the offered royalty level are presented [54] . In this context, the Court noted that it cannot be required from the SEP holder to present all comparable agreements along with the licensing offer to the implementer; a respective industry practice does not exist [55] .

Against this background, the Court did not consider it to be harmful that the standard licensing agreement sent to the parent company by MPEG LA did not include a detailed explanation of the royalty calculation in the above sense [56] . On the one hand, the parent company was aware that this (standard) agreement had been accepted in the market by a great number of licensees [56] . On the other hand, the parent company was also adequately aware of the way the offered royalties were calculated, since it held patents included in the MPEG LA pool itself [57] .

Apart from the above, the Court held that the standard licensing agreement offered to the parent company was FRAND also in terms of content.

According to the Court, a licensing offer cannot be considered as fair and reasonable, if the patent holder requests royalties that go significantly beyond the (hypothetical) price that would have been formed in an effectively competitive market, unless there is a commercial justification for the royalty level requested [58] . Particularly in connection with the licensing of SEPs, an offer can lie outside the FRAND-scope, if the cumulative royalty burden imposed on the implementer would not be tenable in commercial terms [58] . The Court made clear that in this context, no exact mathematical derivation of a FRAND-conform royalty rate is required; moreover, an approximate value is to be determined based on assessments and estimations [58] . In this respect, comparable agreements can serve as an ‘important indicator’ of the fair and reasonable character of the offered royalty rates [58] .

Regarding to the non-discriminatory element of FRAND, the Court pointed out that it applied only to similar situated cases; an unequal treatment is allowed, as long as it is objectively justified [59] . Limitations in this context may especially occur, when the implementation of the patent is necessary for entering a downstream market or when a product becomes competitive only when it uses the patent’s teachings [59] . As a rule, the burden of proof with respect to the discriminatory character of a licensing offer rests on the implementer. Since the latter will usually not be aware of the existence or the content of comparable agreements of the patent holder, it may seem appropriate to request the patent holder to provide the implementer with respective details, as far as this is reasonable [60] . The information to be shared should cover all existing licensees and include which (concretely designated) company with which importance in the relevant market has obtained a licence on which conditions [60] .

Looking at the standard licensing agreement sent to the parent company, the Court observed that the fact the MPEG LA sought for a licence covering all companies within the group, to which the Defendant belonged, was not violating FRAND principles [61] . In the electronics and mobile communications industries, licences covering a group of companies are in line with the industry practice [62] . Patent holder have a special interest in concluding such licences particularly in cases, in which – as in the present case – the parent company manufactures products which are sold worldwide by its subsidiaries. This is because licences at group level makes sure that patent holders can enforce their rights effectively, without having to distinguish between licenced and unlicenced products within a group of companies [63] .

In addition, the Court made clear that pool licences, as the one offered to the parent company, are appropriate under the Huawei framework [64] . An offer for a pool licence cannot per se be seen as abusive (Article 101 TFEU) [65] . On the contrary, such licences usually serve the interest of potential licensees to be granted access to the whole standard on uniform conditions under one roof, without having to seek a licence from every single patent holder separately [65] .

Implementer’s counter-offer

The Court found that the Defendant failed to make a FRAND counter-offer [66] .

Sending signed copies of MPEG LA’s standard licensing agreement back to MPEG LA can be regarded as a counter-offer [67] . The fact, however, that this offer concerned a licence limited to the Defendant and, thus, not covering the parent company (and all further companies belonging to the same group) was not FRAND conform [68] . The Court accepted that licences at group level mirror the industry practice in the field in question; accordingly, no objections can be raised when a patent holder contributing its patents to a pool is willing to grant only licences covering all group companies [69] .

Since the counter-offer was not FRAND in terms of content, the Court did not have to decide, whether it was made in due time, or not [70] .

  • [1] Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (MPEG-LA) v ZTE, District Court of Düsseldorf, judgement dated 9 November 2018, cited by www.nrwe.de, para. 56.
  • [2] Ibid, para. 58
  • [3] Ibid, para. 57
  • [4] Ibid, para. 59
  • [5] Ibid, paras. 61 et seqq. and 340
  • [6] Ibid, para. 65
  • [7] Ibid, para. 66
  • [8] Ibid, para. 73
  • [9] Ibid, para. 42
  • [10] bid, para. 74
  • [11] Ibid, paras. 75 et seq
  • [12] Ibid, para. 75
  • [13] Ibid, paras. 127 – 254
  • [14] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13
  • [15] Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (MPEG-LA) v ZTE, District Court of Düsseldorf, judgement dated 9 November 2018, cited by www.nrwe.de, Ibid, para. 280
  • [16] Ibid, para. 283 and paras. 291 et seqq
  • [17] Ibid, para. 286
  • [18] Ibid, para. 287
  • [19] Ibid, paras. 291 et seqq
  • [20] Ibid, para. 296
  • [21] Ibid, para. 300
  • [22] Ibid, para. 302
  • [23] Ibid, para. 308
  • [24] Under the ‘Orange-Book-Standard’ regime, in order to avoid an injunction, the implementer was required to make a licensing offer to the patent holder, which the latter could not refuse without acting in an anticompetitive manner; see Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof), judgment dated 6 May 2009, Case No. KZR 39/06
  • [25] Ibid, para. 305
  • [26] Ibid, paras. 306 et seqq
  • [27] Ibid, para. 310
  • [28] Ibid, para. 311
  • [29] Ibid, para. 312
  • [30] Ibid, para. 421
  • [31] Ibid, para. 314
  • [32] Ibid, para. 320
  • [33] Ibid, para. 318
  • [34] Ibid, para. 329
  • [35] Ibid, paras. 336 et seq
  • [36] Ibid, para. 338
  • [37] Ibid, para. 198
  • [38] Ibid, para. 315
  • [39] Ibid, paras. 340 et seq
  • [40] Ibid, paras. 342 et seqq
  • [41] Ibid, para. 344
  • [42] Ibid, para. 346
  • [43] Ibid, para. 348
  • [44] Ibid, para. 352
  • [45] Ibid, para. 367
  • [46] Ibid, para. 369
  • [47] Ibid, para. 370
  • [48] Ibid, para. 378
  • [49] Ibid, para. 371
  • [50] Ibid, para. 374
  • [51] Ibid, para. 376
  • [52] Ibid, para. 377
  • [53] Ibid, para. 380
  • [54] Ibid, para. 381
  • [55] Ibid, para. 386
  • [56] Ibid, para. 382
  • [57] Ibid, para. 387
  • [58] Ibid, para. 391
  • [59] Ibid, para. 392
  • [60] Ibid, para. 393
  • [61] Ibid, para. 397
  • [62] Ibid, para. 398
  • [63] Ibid, para. 399
  • [64] Ibid, para. 402
  • [65] Ibid, para. 404
  • [66] Ibid, para. 410
  • [67] Ibid, para. 413
  • [68] Ibid, para. 416
  • [69] Ibid, para. 417
  • [70] Ibid, para. 411


Tagivan (MPEG-LA) v Huawei

15 11月 2018 - Case No. 4a O 17/17

A. Facts

The Claimant, Tagivan II LLC, holds a patent essential to the practice of the AVC/H.264 standard concerning the compression of video data (Standard Essential Patent, or SEP). The patent in question is subject to a FRAND commitment (FRAND stands for Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory terms and conditions) made towards the relevant standardisation body. It was included into a patent pool administered by MPEG LA LLC (MPEG LA), comprising more the 5,000 patents referring to the AVC/H.264 standard (MPEG LA pool) Tagivan (MPEG-LA) v Huawei, District Court of Düsseldorf, 9 November 2018, para. 36..

The Defendant, a German subsidiary of a Chinese group of companies, sells – among other things – mobile phones in Germany that practise the AVC/H.264 standard [2] .

MPEG LA uses a standard licensing agreement, which is publicly available at its website [3] . Since 2004, MPEG-LA has signed approx. 2,000 agreements with implementers [4] , 1,400 of which are still in force [3] .

In 2009, MPEG LA and the Defendant’s parent company (parent company) started discussions about a potential licence covering other standards, especially the MPEG-2 standard. On 6 September 2011, MPEG LA informed the parent company about the possibility to obtain a licence also regarding the AVC/H.264 standard, by sending PDF-copies of its standard licensing agreement to the parent company via email [5] . On 15 September 2011, the parent company suggested to arrange a call on this issue [6] . In February 2012, MPEG LA sent the pool’s standard licensing agreement for the AVC/H.264 standard to the parent company also by mail [7] .

In November 2013, the discussions between MPEG LA and the parent company ended without success [8] . The parties resumed negotiations in July 2016; again, no agreement was reached [8] .

The Claimant then brought an action against the Defendant before the District Court of Düsseldorf in Germany (Court), requesting for injunctive relief, information and rendering of accounts, the destruction and the recall of infringing products as well as for a declaratory judgement confirming Defendant’s liability for damages on the merits [9] .

In November 2017, during the course of the present proceedings, the Defendant made a counteroffer to the Claimant for a licence, which – in contrast to MPEG LA’s standard licensing agreement – was limited to the Claimant’s patent portfolio and established different royalty rates for different regions, in which the Defendant sold products [10] .

In March and September 2018 (again during the proceedings), the Defendant provided bank guarantees to the Claimant covering past and future sales of (allegedly) infringing products. The security amounts were calculated based on the Defendant’s counteroffer dated November 2017 [11] . Furthermore, the Defendant made a second counteroffer to the Claimant shortly after the last oral hearing before the Court [12] .

With the present judgment, the Court granted Claimant’s requests.

B. Court’s reasoning

The Court found that the patent in suit was valid [13] , standard essential [14] and infringed by the products sold by the Defendant in Germany [15] . Furthermore, the Court held that by filing the present suit the Claimant did not abuse its dominant market position in violation of Article 102 of the Treaty for the Functioning of the EU (TFEU), since it had fully complied with the conduct obligations stipulated by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in the matter Huawei v ZTE [16] (Huawei obligations or framework) with respect to dominant undertakingsTagivan (MPEG-LA) v Huawei, District Court of Düsseldorf, 9 November 2018, paras. 304 et seqq..

Dominant market position

The Court found that the Claimant holds a dominant market position in terms of Article 102 TFEU [18] .

The Court defined the relevant market for the assessment of dominance as the market, in which licences for any given patent are offered [19] . A dominant market position can further also exist, when the patent holder can hinder competition in downstream markets for standard-compliant products and services [19] .

The Court made clear that ownership of a SEP does not per se establish market dominanceIbid, para. 310. In this respect, the Court pointed out that – vice versa – also a non-essential patent might confer a dominant position, if the patented invention is superior in terms of technological merit and/or economical value, para. 312.. A dominant market position is given, when the use of the SEP is required for entering the market [21] . The same is true, if the patent user could not market competitive products or services, without access to the respective SEP [22] .

Based on these considerations, the Court saw no ‘reasonable’ doubt that the Claimant was a dominant undertaking: It was undisputed that almost all mobile phones available worldwide use the AVC/H.264 standard and that no ‘realistic’ alternative to the MPEG LA pool existed in the licensing market for patents essential to this standard [23] .

Huawei framework

The Court found, however, that the Claimant did not abuse its dominant position by suing the Defendant in the present case, since its conduct was in line with the Huawei framework [24] . The Huawei framework establishes mutual conduct obligations for both SEP holders and SEP users, which need to be fulfilled step by step and one after another (meaning that each party’s obligation to act arises only after the other party has fulfilled its own obligation) [25] . Subject to the Huawei framework is not only the patent holder’s claim for injunctive relief, but also the claim for the destruction of infringing products [26] .

In this context, the Court pointed out that the Huawei framework applies, irrespective of whether a ‘well-established’ licensing practice concerning the asserted patents already existed before the CJEU delivered the Huawei judgment, or not [27] . The Claimant had argued that, in the present case, the Court should apply the (German) legal standard that preceded the Huawei framework (which was based on the so-called ‘Orange-Book-Standard’ ruling of the Federal Supreme CourtUnder the ‘Orange-Book-Standard’ regime, in order to avoid an injunction, the implementer was required to make a licensing offer to the patent holder, which the latter could not refuse without acting in an anticompetitive manner; see Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof), judgment dated 6 May 2009, Case No. KZR 39/06.), since with respect to the SEP in suit a ‘routine’ practice already existed prior to the Huawei judgement. The Court explained that the Huawei judgment does not contain either an explicit or an implicit limitation of its scope of application [29] . Furthermore, even if a ‘well-established’ licensing practice existed, the need to apply the Huawei framework will still be given, in order to bridge the, nevertheless, existing information gap between patent holder and implementer concerning the (potential) infringement of SEPs [30] . Finally, it would be very challenging for courts to distinguish whether a ‘well-established’ licensing practice excluding the application of the Huawei framework is at hand, or not [30] . Notwithstanding the above, according to the Court, the actual licensing practice of the patent holder could be of ‘particular significance’ when assessing the compliance of the latter with the Huawei obligations: Such practice could, for instance, serve as an indicator of the appropriateness of SEP holder’s licensing offer to the implementer [31] .

Having said that, the Court found no flaws in Claimant’s conduct. In the Court’s view, the Claimant had met its Huawei obligation to notify the Defendant about the infringement of its patent as well as the obligation to present the Defendant with a written FRAND licensing offer covering also the patent in suit. The Defendant, on the other hand, adequately expressed its willingness to enter into a licence, failed, however, to make a FRAND counteroffer to the Claimant. Since an adequate counteroffer was missing, the Court did not take up the question whether the bank guarantees provided by the Defendant constitute an adequate security in terms of the Huawei framework.

Notification of infringement

The Court ruled that the Claimant had adequately notified the Defendant about the infringement of the SEP in suit through the email sent by MPEG LA to the parent company on 6 September 2011 [32] .

The fact that this email was not addressed to the Defendant, but to the parent company, did not raise any concerns as to the compatibility of the notification with the Huawei framework. The Court explained that a notification of infringement addressed only to the parent company of a group of companies is sufficient, as far as it can be assumed that the notification will be forwarded to the subsidiaries concerned [33] . The sole fact that a company belongs to a group justifies such an assumption, unless indications to the contrary exist [34] . This was, however, not the case here.

Besides that, the Court did not consider it inappropriate that the aforementioned e-mail was not sent to the parent company by the Claimant, but by MPEG LA (which is not the holder of the SEP in suit) [35] . The Court held that MPEG LA is entitled to perform legal actions in connection with the licensing of the MPEG LA pool on behalf of the Claimant. The Defendant could not contest that this was not the case, since MPEG LA’s standard licensing agreement, which it is aware of, contains an indication about MPEG LA’s respective capacity [36] . In addition, the Defendant’s parent company was most likely aware of MPEG LA’s capacity to act on behalf of the Claimant, since it had entered into direct negotiation with MPEG LA already in 2009, that is almost two years prior to the notification of infringement [37] .

The Court further ruled that, in terms of content, a notification of infringement must – at least – name the infringed patent (including the patent number) and indicate the contested embodiments as well as the (allegedly) infringing acts of use [38] . A detailed (technical and/or legal) explanation of the infringement is not required; the implementer needs just to be put in the position to assess the infringement allegations, if necessary, by seeking expert advice [38] . A notification of infringement is, therefore, not necessary, when it constitutes just a ‘pointless formality’ [38] . This is true, when according to the overall circumstances of the case, one can safely assume that the implementer is aware of the infringement, so that claiming that the SEP holder failed to provide adequate notification prior to the initiation of court proceedings would appear to be abusive [38] . The respective test is, however, subject to strict conditions [38] .

Based on the above considerations, the Court found that MPEG LA’s email to the parent company dated 6 September 2011 should be considered – as an exception – to constitute a sufficient notification of infringement, although it did not contain the minimum information required (particularly the patent number and a reference to the specific infringing embodiments) [39] . The overall circumstances of the case (especially the fact that the parent company had been in negotiations with MPEG LA already since 2009 and, therefore, should have been aware that MPEG LA has granted licences for the AVC/H.264 standard to the implementers mentioned at its website), give rise to the assumption that the parent company had been conscious of the fact that AVC/H.264-compliant products need to be licensed [40] .

Willingness to obtain a licence

The Court held that the parent company had adequately expressed its willingness to obtain a FRAND-licence through the email sent to MPEG LA on 15 September 2011 [41] .

In the eyes of the Court, this email indicates the parent company’s intention to deal with issues concerning the licensing of patents referring to the AVC/H.264 standard, especially if it is seen in the context of the negotiations between MPEG LA and the parent company that had commenced in 2009 [41] . This is sufficient under the Huawei framework: A general, informal statement suffices [42] . The implementer is not required to refer to a specific licensing agreement (on the contrary, this could be considered harmful under certain circumstances) [42] .

SEP holder’s offer

The Court further found that the standard licensing agreement sent by MPEG LA to the parent company in February 2012 presents an offer accountable to the Claimant which is in line with the Huawei framework in terms of both form and content [43] .

The fact that the standard licensing agreement was not tailored to the parent company but was designed for use towards a large number of (potential) licensees (the name of the licensee ought to be added in each case separately), was not criticized by the Court. MPEG-LA had made clear that the documents sent by mail in February 2012 would serve as the basis for negotiations and a future agreement with the parent company [44] .

In addition, the Court did not take an issue with the fact that the offer was addressed to the parent company and not to the Defendant, since the parties were discussing about a licensing agreement on group level and the parent company had been involved in the communications from the beginning [45] .

The Court further ruled that the Huawei requirement, according to which the SEP holder’s licensing offer must specify the royalty calculation, was met, although the draft standard licensing agreement sent to the parent company did not contain a detailed explanation of the way the royalties were calculated [46] . The Court found that, in the present case, it was sufficient that the parent company was aware that the (standard) agreement presented to her had been accepted in the market by a great number of licensees [47] . In the Court’s view, the explanation of the royalty calculation does not require a ‘strict mathematical derivation’ of the royalty; moreover, it will, as a rule, suffice to demonstrate that the (standard) royalty rates offered have been accepted in the market by presenting existing licensing agreements with third parties (comparable agreements) [48] . If a sufficient number of comparable licences is presented, then the SEP holder will usually not be required to provide further information regarding the appropriateness of its licensing offer [48] . It will need, however, to provide information on all essential comparable agreements, in order to rule out the risk that only agreements supporting the offered royalty level are presented [48] . In this context, the Court noted that it cannot be required from the SEP holder to present all comparable agreements along with the licensing offer to the implementer; a respective industry practice does not exist [49] .

Apart from the above, the Court held that the standard licensing agreement offered to the parent company was FRAND also in terms of content [50] .

According to the Court, a licensing offer cannot be considered as fair and reasonable, if the patent holder requests royalties that go significantly beyond the (hypothetical) price that would have been formed in an effectively competitive market, unless there is a commercial justification for the royalty level requested [51] . Particularly in connection with the licensing of SEPs, an offer can lie outside the FRAND-scope, if the cumulative royalty burden imposed on the implementer would not be tenable in commercial terms [51] . The Court made clear that, in this context, no exact mathematical derivation of a FRAND-conform royalty rate is required; moreover, an approximate value is to be determined based on assessments and estimations [51] . In this respect, comparable agreements can serve as an ‘important indicator’ of the fair and reasonable character of the offered royalty rates [51] .

Non-discrimination

Regarding to the non-discriminatory element of FRAND, the Court pointed out that it applied only to similar situated cases [52] . Even then, an unequal treatment is allowed, as long as it is objectively justified [52] . Limitations may, nevertheless, occur, especially when the implementation of the patent is necessary for entering a downstream market or when a product becomes competitive, only when it uses the patent’s teachings [52] . As a rule, the burden of proof with respect to the discriminatory character of a licensing offer rests on the implementer. Since the latter will usually not be aware of the existence or the content of comparable agreements of the patent holder, it may, however, seem appropriate to request the patent holder to provide the implementer with respective details, as far as this is reasonable [53] . The information to be shared should cover all existing licensees and include which (concretely designated) company with which importance in the relevant market has obtained a licence on which conditions [53] .

Against this background, the Court found that the offer made by MPEG LA to the parent company was not discriminatory. The Defendant had argued that seeking a licence also covering sales in China violated FRAND, since not every other competitor in the Chinese market was licensed by MPEG LA [54] . The Court observed that the selective assertion of patents against only a part of the competitors in a downstream market might, in principle, be discriminatory [55] . This was, however, not the case here, because the Claimant had already sued another company active in China and was attempting to persuade other companies to obtain a licence [56] . Due to the high cost risk associated with court proceedings, the patent holder is not obliged to sue all potential infringers at once; choosing to assert its patents against larger implementers first was considered by the Court as reasonable, since a win over a large market player could motivate smaller competitors to also obtain a licence (without litigation) [57] .

Furthermore, the Court did not consider the fact that the offered standard licensing agreement contained a cap for the annual licensing fees payable to the MPEG LA pool to be discriminatory [58] . The Defendant had argued that the respective cap disproportionally favoured licensees with high volume sales which offered not only mobile phones, but also other standard compliant products in the market. The Court made, however, clear that Art. 102 TFEU does not establish a ‘most-favoured-licensee’ principle (meaning that the patent holder must offer the same conditions to all licensees) [59] . It is not per se discriminatory to use sale volumes as a criterion for discounts, especially if a company has managed to open up a larger market than its competitors [60] . Discounts can further hardly be discriminatory, if they are offered to every (potential) licensee under the same conditions [60] .

Besides that, the Court dismissed the Defendant’s argument that MPEG LA’s standard licensing agreement is discriminatory, because it is offered to both MPEG LA pool members and third licensees. The Court found that the share of the licensing income paid to pool members, who have also signed a MPEG LA licence, reflects their contribution to the pool and, therefore, does not discriminate the latter against third licensees (who have not contributed any patents to the pool) [61] . In this context, the Court also pointed out that the clauses contained in MPEG LA’s standard licensing agreement, providing for deductions or instalment payments are not discriminatory, particularly because they are offered to all licensees [62] .

The Court was further not convinced that the parent company was discriminated by MPEG LA’s offer, because the MPEG LA pool had refrained from requesting a licence at group level from a competitor, but had only granted a licence to a subsidiary within the respective group, instead. In the Court’s eyes, the Claimant had managed to establish that this exception was objectively justified, since only the subsidiary granted a licence had activities concerning the patents included in the pool [63] .

Fair and reasonable terms

With respect to the assessment of whether MPEG LA’s offer to the parent company was also fair and reasonable, the Court placed particular emphasis on the existing licensing agreements between the MPEG-LA pool and third licensees. The Court took the view, that existing licences can establish the actual presumption that the terms offered (as well as the scope of the licence) are fair and reasonable [64] . Moreover, the fact that licences regarding the same patent portfolio have already been granted for similar products prima facie suggests that the selection of the patents included in the pool was adequate [64] .

Based on these premises, the Court found that the approx. 2,000 standard licensing agreements concluded by the MPEG LA pool provide a ‘strong indication’ (‘erhebliche Indizwirkung’) that the underlying licensing terms are fair and reasonable [65] . In the Court’s view, the Defendant had failed to show sufficient facts that could rebut this indication.

In particular, the Court did not accept Defendant’s claim that, as a rule, licences for products sold in the Chinese market are subject to special conditions. On the contrary, the Court found that the existing MPEG LA pool licences allow the assumption that setting worldwide uniform licence fees corresponds to industry practice [66] . Accordingly, the Court rejected Defendant’s argument, that the royalties offered by MPEG LA to the parent company would hinder the Defendant from making profits with its sales in China, since the overall licensing burden (including licences needed from third parties) would be too high. The Court noted that the price level for Defendant’s sales in China does not significantly differ from the price level in other regions [67] . What is more, the Defendant did not show that further licences are needed with respect to the AVC/H.264 standard [68] . The Court further did not recognise a need to apply special conditions for the Chinese market, because – compared to patents from other regions – a lower number of Chinese patents is contained in the MPEG LA pool. According to the Court, the number of patents in a specific market should not be ‘overestimated’ as a factor for assessing the FRAND conformity of an offer, since even a single patent can block an implementer from a market, generating, therefore, the need for obtaining a licence [69] .

Apart from the above, the Court did not criticise that MPEG LA’s standard licensing agreement did not contain an adjustment clause. Such clauses can secure that the agreed licensing fees remain reasonable, in case that the number of patents contained in the pool changes during the term of the licensing agreement. They are, however, in the Court’s view, not the only mean to reach this goal: Moreover, the clause contained in MPEG LA’s standard licensing agreement, according to which the agreed royalties will not be adjusted either when more patents are added to the pool or when patents are withdrawn from the pool, offers an adequate balance of risk and is, therefore, FRAND compliant [70] . This assumption is also confirmed by the fact that all existing licensees have accepted this clause [71] .

In addition, the Court made clear that pool licences, as the one offered to the parent company, are, in general, appropriate under the Huawei framework. An offer for a pool licence cannot per se be seen as abusive (Article 101 TFEU) [72] . On the contrary, such licences usually serve the interest of potential licensees to be granted access to the whole standard on uniform conditions under one roof, without having to seek a licence from every single patent holder separately [72] .

An offer for a pool licence can, nevertheless, violate FRAND in ‘special circumstances’ [73] , for instance, if not all patents included in the pool are used by the licensee [74] . According to the Court, the fact that the Defendant – as well as mobile phone manufacturers in general – usually use only one of four available profiles of the AVC-Standard does not, however, render the standard licensing agreement offered by MPEG LA unreasonable [75] . This is particularly the case, since Defendant’s products – and especially its latest smartphones – have the technical capability to implement more than one available profile [76] . Besides that, it is reasonable to offer one single licence covering all profiles, since modern products incorporate functionalities of several types of devices (e.g. smartphones offer also digital television functionalities) [76] .

In this context, the Court dismissed Defendant’s arguments that the licence offered by MPEG LA was not FRAND, because it allegedly covered both standard-essential and non-essential patents. The Court recognised that the ‘bundling’ of essential and non-essential patents in a patent pool could, in principle, be incompatible with FRAND, if it is done with the intention to extract higher royalties from licensees by increasing the number of patents contained in the pool [77] . The Defendant failed, however, to present any reliable evidence that this was the case with the MPEG-LA pool [78] .

In the Court’s eyes, the Defendant also failed to establish that the rates offered by MPEG LA would lead to an unreasonably high total burden of licensing costs (‘royalty stacking’) [79] . The theoretical possibility that the Defendant might need to obtain licences also for patents not included in a pool does not per se lead to royalty stacking; the Defendant would have been obliged to establish that the total amount of royalties actually paid does not allow to extract any margin from the sale of its products [80] .

The Court further pointed out that MPEG-LA’s offer did not violate FRAND principles, because it referred to a licence covering all companies within the group, to which the Defendant belonged [81] . In the electronics and mobile communications industries, licences on a group level are in line with the industry practice and, therefore, FRAND-compliant [82] .

Implementer’s counteroffer

Having said that, the Court found that the Defendant failed to make a FRAND counteroffer [83] .

In particular, the counteroffer made in November 2017 after the commencement of the present proceedings violated the FRAND principles in terms of content, because it was limited to a licence covering solely the Claimant’s patent portfolio and not all patents included in the MPEG LA pool [84] . Furthermore, the counteroffer established different licensing rates for different regions (especially for China) without factual justification [85] .

Furthermore, the second counteroffer made by the Defendant after the end of the last oral hearing was belated and, therefore, not FRAND. The Court held that the Claimant was not given sufficient time to respond to that counteroffer, so that there was no need for any further assessment of its content [12] . On the contrary, the Court expressed the view that the purpose of this counteroffer was most likely to delay the infringement proceedings [12] .

Provision of security

Since Defendant’s counter-offers were not FRAND in terms of content, the Court did not have to decide, whether the security provided in form of bank guarantees was FRAND or not. The Court noted, however, that the amounts provided were insufficient, since they were calculated on basis of Defendant’s counteroffer from November 2017, which itself failed to meet the FRAND requirements [86] .

  • [1] Tagivan (MPEG-LA) v Huawei, District Court of Düsseldorf, 9 November 2018, para. 36.
  • [2] Ibid, para. 35.
  • [3] Ibid, para. 37.
  • [4] Ibid, para. 453.
  • [5] Ibid, para. 39.
  • [6] Ibid, para. 43.
  • [7] Ibid, para. 44.
  • [8] Ibid, para. 53.
  • [9] Ibid, para. 2.
  • [10] Ibid, para. 54.
  • [11] Ibid, para. 65.
  • [12] Ibid, para. 716.
  • [13] Ibid, paras. 143-208.
  • [14] Ibid, paras. 209-293.
  • [15] Ibid, paras. 295-302.
  • [16] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13.
  • [17] Tagivan (MPEG-LA) v Huawei, District Court of Düsseldorf, 9 November 2018, paras. 304 et seqq.
  • [18] Ibid, para. 307.
  • [19] Ibid, para. 310.
  • [20] Ibid, para. 310. In this respect, the Court pointed out that – vice versa – also a non-essential patent might confer a dominant position, if the patented invention is superior in terms of technological merit and/or economical value, para. 312.
  • [21] Ibid, paras. 310 et seq.
  • [22] Ibid, para. 311.
  • [23] Ibid, paras. 315 et seqq.
  • [24] Ibid, para. 321.
  • [25] Ibid, para. 326.
  • [26] Ibid, para. 327.
  • [27] Ibid, para. 330.
  • [28] Under the ‘Orange-Book-Standard’ regime, in order to avoid an injunction, the implementer was required to make a licensing offer to the patent holder, which the latter could not refuse without acting in an anticompetitive manner; see Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof), judgment dated 6 May 2009, Case No. KZR 39/06.
  • [29] Ibid, paras. 331 et seqq.
  • [30] Ibid, para. 335.
  • [31] Ibid, para. 337.
  • [32] Ibid, para. 339.
  • [33] Ibid, para. 343.
  • [34] Ibid, para. 345.
  • [35] Ibid, para. 356.
  • [36] Ibid, paras. 357 et seqq.
  • [37] Ibid, paras. 366 et seqq.
  • [38] Ibid, para. 340.
  • [39] Ibid, para. 341.
  • [40] Ibid, paras. 395 et seqq.
  • [41] Ibid, paras. 400 et seqq.
  • [42] Ibid, para. 399.
  • [43] Ibid, para. 405.
  • [44] Ibid, paras. 411-417.
  • [45] Ibid, para. 419.
  • [46] Ibid, para. 421.
  • [47] Ibid, para. 425.
  • [48] Ibid, para. 422.
  • [49] Ibid, paras. 426 et seqq.
  • [50] Ibid, para. 429.
  • [51] Ibid, para. 431.
  • [52] Ibid, para. 432.
  • [53] Ibid, para. 433.
  • [54] Ibid, para. 438.
  • [55] Ibid, para. 443.
  • [56] Ibid, para. 444.
  • [57] Ibid, para. 445.
  • [58] Ibid, para. 579.
  • [59] Ibid, para. 582.
  • [60] Ibid, paras. 583 et seqq.
  • [61] Ibid, para. 564.
  • [62] Ibid, paras. 568 et seqq.
  • [63] Ibid, paras. 573 et seqq.
  • [64] Ibid, para. 451.
  • [65] Ibid, para. 449.
  • [66] Ibid, para. 454.
  • [67] Ibid, paras. 487 et seqq.
  • [68] Ibid, para. 491.
  • [69] Ibid, para. 495.
  • [70] Ibid, paras. 591 et seqq., particularly para. 596.
  • [71] Ibid. para. 597.
  • [72] Ibid. para. 504.
  • [73] Ibid. para. 508.
  • [74] Ibid. para. 514.
  • [75] Ibid. paras. 511 et seqq.
  • [76] Ibid. para. 524.
  • [77] Ibid, para. 528.
  • [78] Ibid, paras. 531-543.
  • [79] Ibid, paras. 545 et seqq.
  • [80] Ibid, para. 546.
  • [81] Ibid, para. 599.
  • [82] Ibid, para. 600.
  • [83] Ibid, para. 603.
  • [84] Ibid, paras. 605 et seqq.
  • [85] Ibid, paras. 617 et seqq.
  • [86] Ibid, para. 625.


HEVC (Dolby) v MAS Elektronik

7 5月 2020 - Case No. 4c O 44/18

A. Facts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

B. Court's reasoning

The Court found that Dolby was entitled to assert claims arising from the patent-in-suit. The respective patent application was transferred before grant and Dolby was registered as owner in the Patent Register at the moment the patent was granted. MAS did not present any reason to question the validity of the transfer of the patent application to Dolby.HEVC (Dolby) v MAS Elektronik, District Court (Landgericht) of Düsseldorf, 7 May 2020, Case No. 4c O 44/18 (cited by www.nrwe.de), paras. 75 et seqq.

Furthermore, the Court held that the patent-in-suit is essential (and not only optional) to the improvement process of encoding and decoding of images under the HEVC standard and, therefore, infringed by the devices manufactured and sold by MAS. [2]


Abuse of dominant market position

Having said that, the Court explained that by asserting claims for injunctive relief as well as recall and destruction of infringing products before court, Dolby had not abused its dominant market position in violation of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) [3] .

In the eyes of the Court, Dolby holds a dominant position [4] . The Court highlighted that owning a patent, even a standard-essential patent, does not constitute per se a condition for market dominance [5] . That must be assessed case by case. A dominant position will be, as a rule, given if the use of a SEP is considered a pre-requisite to enter a downstream market. This is true also when the SEP is needed for offering competitive products in the downstream market. [5] In the present case, the implementation of the HEVC was required to make a competitive offering in the STB market [6] .

Notwithstanding the above, the Court found that Dolby had not abused its dominant market position, considering that it had fulfilled the obligations set forth by the Court of Justice the EU (CJEU) in the matter Huawei v ZTE (Huawei judgment or framework) [7] .


Notification of infringement

The required notification of the infringement by the patent holder was properly done. The Court understood that HEVC Advance, as the pool administrator, was entitled to do such notification on behalf of the patent holders that contributed patents to the pool. There is nothing in the Huawei judgment that suggests otherwise.HEVC (Dolby) v MAS Elektronik, District Court (Landgericht) of Düsseldorf, 7 May 2020, Case No. 4c O 44/18, paras. 213 et seqq and paras. 221 et seqq.

The Court explained that the notification must, at least, include the publication number of the patent-in-suit and also indicate the infringing products and the infringing act(s) of use. [9] The notification does not need to contain a detailed (technical or legal) analysis, with reference to standards or claim features, but only present sufficient information that enables the other party to assess the infringement accusation made against it. [9]

In this case, the notification initially sent by HEVC Advance to MAS was sufficient in terms of content, since it specified the infringing products, and referred to HEVC Advance's patent portfolio and its website containing additional information. The fact that no patent numbers were mentioned was not considered harmful, since this information is publicly available in the pool's website. [10] Moreover, the Court highlighted that the notification can be a mere formality, if knowledge of the infringement by the implementer can be assumed. In such case, arguing that the notification was flawed, can be considered abusive, as it was the case here. [11]

Besides the notification made by HEVC Advance, the Court found that Dolby had also made a sufficient notification itself by the letter sent to MAS on 11 July 2018. [12] The letter fulfilled all requirements in terms of content. The fact that it was sent only after the action was filed was not harmful, since MAS had been already adequately informed by HEVC Advance before. [12]
 

Willingness to obtain a licence

Looking at the conduct of MAS after receipt of the notifications of infringement, the Court reached the conclusion that MAS had sufficiently declared willingness to enter into a pool licence with HEVC Advance. [13] On the contrary, the Court took the view that MAS had not acted as a willing licensee with respect to Dolby's subsequent offer for a bilateral licence. [14]

The Court explained that, in its licensing request towards the SEP holder, the standards implementer must express its 'serious' willingness to conclude a licensing agreement on FRAND terms [15] . For this, no strict requirements apply, in terms of content or form; moreover, also an 'implicit behaviour' can suffice [16] . The implementer is, however, required to react in due course. [17] Furthermore, 'willingness' must still exist when the patent holder makes his licensing offer [15] .

The Court held that MAS had expressed willingness to take a pool license from HEVC Advance –although no express request was made–, since "immediately" after receipt of the notification of infringement, MAS started a correspondence with HEVC Advance with the goal to initiate negotiations. [18]

On the other hand, MAS had not been willing to obtain a bilateral licence from Dolby. [12] The Court emphasized that the whole conduct of the implementer must be assessed; a 'genuine' willingness to obtain a license must be demonstrated. [19] This is not given, when -as it had been the case here- the implementer only poses repetitive questions that do not present any constructive remarks and, therefore, do not lead to any progress in the negotiation. [20] In addition to that, it could be expected that a licensee willing to sign a bilateral agreement with an individual pool member, will have an interest to also engage in discussions with further pool members, especially for assessing the total 'economic burden' for its products, in comparison with a pool licensing agreement. [21] MAS refrained from doing that. What is more, it made clear in the proceedings that it was only interested in a pool licence. [21]
 

SEP holder's offer

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

The Court found that the offer made by HEVC Advance met the Huawei requirements. In terms of form, the fact that the standard agreement sent to MAS had not been signed did not cause any concerns. [22] In the Court's view, the CJEU requires that the SEP holder's offer contains all usual terms of a licensing agreement, however, no binding offer that could lead to the conclusion of a licence through sole acceptance by the implementer is needed. [23]

Furthermore, HEVC Advance had sufficiently explained the royalty calculation, in line with the Huawei judgment. [24] If the patent holder has previously granted licenses to third parties, it has to give more or less substantiated reasons, depending on the circumstances of the individual case, why the royalty it envisages is Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND). [25] In case that the SEP holder offers licences exclusively based on a standard licensing agreement, it will, as a rule, suffice to establish the adoption of the licensing programme in practice and to show that the specific offer corresponds to the standard licensing agreement. [26] The more standard licensing agreements signed are shared by the patent holder, the stronger the assumption is, that the offered rates are FRAND. [27]

The Court emphasized that is not necessary to present the full content of all the licensing agreements already concluded, but only the relevant ones, considering clearly delineated product categories. [28] Existing licences with cross-licensing-elements, are not relevant in this context, especially, when the implementer does not have any patents himself, as it was the case here. [29] Accordingly, the Court found that the forty third party agreements disclosed by Dolby in the proceedings were enough in the present case. [30]


Fair and reasonable terms

Looking at the content, the Court found that the terms of the standard licensing agreement offered by HEVC Advance are fair and reasonable. [31] As fair and reasonable can be considered terms offered to a willing party, without exploiting a dominant position. [32] Apart from the royalties, the offer must also prove reasonable with regard to the other terms as well (scope, territory etc.). [32]

Having said that, the Court held that the royalties charged by HEVC Advance's standard licensing agreement are fair and reasonable. [33] An indication of that is the fact, that up to January 2020, more than forty licensees selling products in the same category as MAS had taken a license on the same terms, modified sometimes by 'blended rates'. [34] On the other hand, the fact that lower royalties are charged by a competing patent pool (MPEG LA) does not make the HEVC Advance's rate unreasonable, as FRAND is considered rather to be a range than a specific amount. [35]

Furthermore, the Court took the view that the limitation of the offered licence to 'practised claims' only (that is those claims of the licenced patents that are essential to the practice of the HEVC standard), is not unreasonable. [36] This limitation does not present any adverse effect on MAS' business, since the royalty payments correspond to the claims that are actually used by the licensee (and, vice versa, no obligation to pay for claims not used is established). [37]

Also, in the eyes of the Court, MAS was not able to prove that the lack of an adjustment clause is unreasonable [38] . MAS failed to establish that respective clauses are common in industry practice; on the contrary, the fact that at least forty parties had signed a licence with HEVC Advance without such clause indicated the opposite. [39] What is more, the royalty clause is constant. That means that the rate charged will not change if licenced patents expire, but also will remain the same in the case of addition of new patents to the pool that will be automatically covered by the agreement. Insofar, an economic risk for both parties exists. [40]

Regarding the choice of forum clause contained in the standard licensing agreement, establishing the jurisdiction of courts in New York as well as granting HEVC Advance the right to also choose other venues at its discretion, the Court was not able to conclude any unfair disadvantage for MAS. [41] The same clause was agreed in many other licensing agreements signed by HEVC Advance with third parties. [42] In fact, MAS agreed to a similar one in its license agreement with the MPEG LA pool. [42]


Non-discrimination

Besides that, the Court was unable to establish any discrimination against MAS through the licence offered by HEVC Advance. [43] The obligation of equal treatment applies only to aspects that are comparable; even a market dominant undertaking must be allowed to respond differently to different market conditions. [44] An unequal treatment is to be assessed based on the specific circumstances of each individual case under the goals of competition and can be accepted as lawful, if objectively justified. [45] Therefore, not every difference in the terms and conditions of a licence can be seen as abusive. [46] According to the Court, the same principle also applies to the licensing of SEPs. [47]

Against this background, the Court found that the fact that the pool administered by HEVC Advance updated its terms in a way that an 'uniform licensing regime' no longer exists, since for certain licensees the previous version of the agreement still applies, does not mean that the new standard licensing agreement offered to MAS was discriminatory. [48] Although, according to the case-law of the Higher District Court of Düsseldorf, a patent holder (and its assignees) is bound to the 'licensing concept' underlying the first ever licence granted, it is allowed to deviate from such 'concept', if this does not lead to a discrimination of either past nor future licensees. [49] In the Court's view, this was not the case here: The old licensees were offered the possibility to shift to the new terms, and there is no evidence that MAS would be treated worse by the terms of the new standard licensing agreement. [49] On the contrary, the new royalty calculation leads to a lower licensing burden. [49]

The Court also took the view, that there is also no discrimination in the way the patent-in-suit is enforced. [50] MAS argued that it was discriminated, because its competitors or large companies were not sued by members of the HEVC Advance pool for patent infringement. The Court highlighted that refraining from enforcement does not necessarily mean discrimination: the phase of adoption of the relevant standard, the costs and procedural risks involved, the knowledge of the holder regarding the infringement and its extent are factors to be considered. [51] In the case of HEVC Advance, the initial phase of its existence and limitation of resources are relevant for this assessment. [52]

Moreover, no discrimination with respect to the amount of the royalty rate or the scope offered was found. [53] The Court pointed out that the fact that some of the existing licensees have agreed on rates higher than those offered to MAS, could not be used in favour of the latter: as a rule, only those who are treated less favourably can invoke discrimination. [54]

The Court further held that the 'blended rates' agreed with certain other licensees, did not render the offer made to MAS by HEVC Advance discriminatory either. [55] These rates mirrored variations due to the difference in products and implementer's profiles and were either offered to MAS or not applicable to his business model. [56]

Furthermore, the Court found that the 'incentive programme' offered by the HEVC Advance pool, which under specific conditions (especially the signing of a licence at an early point in time) results in discounted rates, is lawful and non-discriminatory. [57] The same is true with respect to discounts offered for past uses prior to the signing a licence, as it is the case for HEVC Advance [58] .

Finally, a 10% discount offered by HEVC Advance when a licensee also takes a trademark licence, allowing for the labelling of products with the HEVC trademark, was equally offered to the MAS, so that the Court could not see a discrimination of MAS by such provision in the standard licensing agreement. [59]


Implementer's counteroffer

The Court found that MAS' counteroffer was not FRAND. [60] The offer made by MAS failed to present sufficiently an explanation of why its terms would be FRAND, in view of the terms offered by HEVC Advance. MAS presented only a royalty rate, without making any reference to the rest of the clauses contained in the offer previously made by HEVC Advance, which it alleged to be discriminatory or unreasonable. [61]

Having found that MAS' counteroffer had not been FRAND, the Court explained that the fact that MAS neither rendered accounts nor provided security did not play any role for its decision. [62]

 

C. Other issues

By the facts of the case, the Court concluded that MAS acted culpably, or at least negligently, and, therefore, owes compensation for past and future damages caused by its actions. Moreover, damages should not be limited to a FRAND royalty. [63] The quantification of the damages will be possible with the rendering of accounts by MAS. [64]

The lawsuit for revocation of the patent, arguing lack of inventive step, that had not been decided yet, had no likelihood of success, according to the Court's analysis. Therefore, the request for staying the proceedings until a decision on the validity is delivered by the Federal Patent Court was denied. [65]

  • [1] HEVC (Dolby) v MAS Elektronik, District Court (Landgericht) of Düsseldorf, 7 May 2020, Case No. 4c O 44/18 (cited by www.nrwe.de), paras. 75 et seqq.
  • [2] Ibid, paras. 157-184.
  • [3] Ibid, paras. 186 et seqq.
  • [4] Ibid, paras. 189 et seqq.
  • [5] Ibid, paras. 194 et seqq.
  • [6] Ibid, para. 197.
  • [7] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13.
  • [8] HEVC (Dolby) v MAS Elektronik, District Court (Landgericht) of Düsseldorf, 7 May 2020, Case No. 4c O 44/18, paras. 213 et seqq and paras. 221 et seqq.
  • [9] Ibid, para. 210.
  • [10] Ibid, paras. 229 et seqq.
  • [11] Ibid, para. 233.
  • [12] Ibid, para. 759.
  • [13] Ibid, paras. 236 et seqq.
  • [14] Ibid, paras. 760 et seqq.
  • [15] Ibid, para. 237.
  • [16] Ibid, para. 237 and para. 761.
  • [17] Ibid, para. 760.
  • [18] Ibid, para. 238.
  • [19] Ibid, para. 763.
  • [20] Ibid, para. 764.
  • [21] Ibid, para. 765.
  • [22] Ibid, paras. 241 et seqq.
  • [23] Ibid, para. 242.
  • [24] Ibid, paras. 244 et seqq.
  • [25] Ibid, para. 245.
  • [26] Ibid, para. 248.
  • [27] Ibid, para. 255.
  • [28] Ibid, para. 250.
  • [29] Ibid, para. 253.
  • [30] Ibid, para. 249.
  • [31] Ibid, paras. 257 and 258.
  • [32] Ibid, para. 260.
  • [33] Ibid, paras. 264 et seqq.
  • [34] Ibid, para. 268.
  • [35] Ibid, paras. 271 et seqq.
  • [36] Ibid, paras. 280 et seqq.
  • [37] Ibid, para. 284.
  • [38] Ibid, paras. 286 et seqq.
  • [39] Ibid, para. 295.
  • [40] Ibid, para. 298.
  • [41] Ibid, paras. 301 et seqq.
  • [42] Ibid, para. 304.
  • [43] Ibid, paras. 306 et seqq. and paras. 314 et seqq.
  • [44] Ibid, para. 308.
  • [45] Ibid, paras. 308 et seq.
  • [46] Ibid, para. 310.
  • [47] Ibid, para. 311.
  • [48] Ibid, paras. 314 et seqq.
  • [49] Ibid, para. 318.
  • [50] Ibid, para. 321.
  • [51] Ibid, para. 322.
  • [52] Ibid, para. 323.
  • [53] Ibid, paras. 325 et seqq. as well as paras. 443 et seqq.
  • [54] Ibid, para. 326.
  • [55] Ibid, paras. 328 et seqq.
  • [56] Ibid, paras. 329 et seqq.
  • [57] Ibid, paras. 334 et seqq.
  • [58] Ibid, paras. 526 et seqq.
  • [59] Ibid, paras. 665 et seqq.
  • [60] Ibid, paras. 751 et seqq.
  • [61] Ibid, paras. 754.
  • [62] Ibid, para. 756.
  • [63] Ibid, para. 773.
  • [64] Ibid, para. 774.
  • [65] Ibid, paras. 781 et seqq.


Conversant 対 Huawei

27 8月 2020 - Case No. 事件番号: 4b O 30/18

A.   事実

原告であるConversantは、欧州電気通信標準化機構(「ETSI」)によって開発された各種無線通信規格の実施において必須な(と見込まれる)ものとして宣言された特許(標準必須特許、又はSEP)のポートフォリオを保有する不実施主体である。Conversantは、そのSEPポートフォリオに対して二者間ライセンスを提供すると共に、Via Licensingが管理するパテントプールである「Multi-Generation-Pool」のメンバーでもある。

被告は、中国に本社を置き、世界的に活動するHuaweiグループ(Huawei)の親会社及びドイツの子会社2社である。

ConversantはETSIに対し、係争特許を含むSEPを公平、合理的、非差別的(FRAND)な条件で規格利用者に提供することを誓約した。

2014 年 4 月 29 日、Conversant は Huawei に対して、自社の特許が侵害されていることを通知した。通知には、侵害されたとされる製品の例が示されると共に、当該製品で使用されている特許が示されていた。その最初の通知の後、両当事者は2015年から2017年にかけて交渉を行った。

2017年7月、ConversantはHuaweiを相手取り、イングランド・ウェールズ高等法院(英国高等法院)に提訴した。Conversantは高等法院に対し、とりわけ、自社のSEPポートフォリオについてFRAND条件によるワールドワイドライセンスの条件設定と、Huaweiに対する(裁判所が決定した条件を拒否した場合の)差止命令を要求した。同時に、Conversantは、Huaweiのドイツの関係会社の1社に対し、規格に対応した最終製品の正味販売価格に対する割合として計算したロイヤルティの申出を送付した。これについては、導入された規格(2G、3G、4G)及び各地域の市場(「主要市場」及び中国を含む「その他の市場」)に応じて異なるレートが提示された。Conversantは、この申出について、Unwired Planet対Huawei事件で英国高等法院が過去に確認した条件に相当することからFRANDであると説明した[1][YH1] 。

HuaweiはConversantに対し、2018年の初めに中国の南京市中級人民法院(南京市法院)に訴訟を提起し、とりわけ、ConversantのSEPポートフォリオの中国部分の料率を決定するよう要請した。

その後、Conversantは、デュッセルドルフ地方裁判所(本裁判所)に対して、Huaweiに対する侵害訴訟を提起した。2019年9月、南京市法院は判決を下し、Conversantの複数の中国特許が無効又は侵害されていないとした。南京市法院はまた、Conversantが保有する中国SEPに対して支払うべき料率も決定した。Conversantはこの判決を不服として控訴した。

2020年3月12日、Huaweiはいわゆる「Key Offer Terms(重要な申出の条件)」をConversantと共有した。Huaweiによると、その条件に含まれる料率は、第三者とのライセンス契約から抽出されたものである。Huaweiは各ライセンシーと締結した秘密保持契約(NDA)を理由として、提案したロイヤルティに関するさらなる情報の提供を拒絶した。

本判決において、本裁判所はConversantを支持し、とりわけHuaweiに対する差止命令を認めた [2]。 
 

B. 判決理由

本裁判所は、係争特許は侵害され、標準必須であると判断した[3]

さらに、本裁判所は、競争法に基づくHuaweiのFRAND宣言を理由とする抗弁を棄却した [4]。Huaweiは、Conversantが差止命令による救済を主張することにより、特にHuawei対ZTE事件において欧州連合司法裁判所(the Court of Justice of the European Union:CJEU)がSEP保有者に課した行動要件を満たしていないことから(Huaweiの判断又はフレームワーク)[5]、EU機能条約(TFEU)第102条に違反し市場における支配的地位を濫用したと主張していた。

市場における支配的地位

本裁判所は、Conversant が市場における支配的地位を有していると判断した[6]

本裁判所は、特許の所有のみでは、たとえそれが標準必須特許であっても、特許保有者に自動的に支配的地位を与えるわけではないことを指摘した。支配的地位を構築するためには、(下流の)市場に参入するために当該特許へのアクセスが必要でなければならない。このことは、Huaweiの標準規格に対応した携帯電話に関しても当てはまる[7]

この状況で、本裁判所は、ConversantのETSIに対するFRAND誓約は、同社の市場における支配的地位を制限するものではない、と説明した。確かに、ETSIのFRAND条件を約束することは、SEP保有者がその特許をFRAND条件でライセンスする義務を負う限りにおいて市場力を制限するが、この制限はライセンスが実際に付与されるまでは実質的な効果を持たない[8]。「マルチゼネレーション・プール(Multi-Generation-Pool)」形式による別の形でのライセンス供与の選択肢も、それ自体で Conversantの市場における支配的地位を排除することはできない、というのが本裁判所の見解である[9]

 

支配的地位の濫用

しかし、本裁判所は、ConversantはTEFU第102条に違反して市場における支配的地位を濫用したとは言えないと判断した[10]。ConversantはHuaweiフレームワークの下で自己が負う義務を遵守していたが、Huaweiはそれを怠っていた[11]

本裁判所の見解では、Huaweiフレームワークは、SEP保有者と実施者について相互的な行動義務を確立している。従って、結果的な義務は、相手方がその前提となる義務を完全に果たしたときにのみ履行義務が生じる[12]

 

侵害通知

そう述べた上で、本裁判所は、2014年4月29日付でConversantがHuaweiに発出した書簡は侵害通知として十分に認められると判断した[13]。内容に関しては、通知には侵害された特許(特許番号を含む)、侵害している実施形態及び侵害している使用を示すことが必要とされるが、詳細な技術的又は法的分析はこの段階では要求されないとした[14]。本裁判所は、SEP保有者は侵害の通知とともにクレームチャートを提供する義務はないことを明らかにした[15]。さらに、実施者が既に侵害を認識している場合には、それに関する通知は必要ない(「無用な形式的措置」)と考えられるが、裁判所は通知が全く必要なかったか否かを評価する際には厳格な基準を適用すべきである[16]

ConversantのHuaweiに対する前述の書簡について、本裁判所は、係争特許が当該書簡に明示的に記載されていないことを(Conversantにとっての)不利とはみなさなかった。この書簡の中で、Conversantは、そのポートフォリオ全体の侵害に言及し、及びいくつかの特許を例示していた。このことは、Conversantが書簡で言及していない他の特許も同様に侵害されていると想定していることをHuaweiに対して明らかにするものであった [17]。加えて、本裁判所は、HuaweiがConversantの法律上の前身会社と既にライセンス契約を締結していたため、Huaweiは当該特許ポートフォリオを詳細に認識していたはずである、という事実も考慮した[18]

 

ライセンス供与を受ける意思

本裁判所は、Huaweiの行動全般を考慮し、当初Huaweiはライセンスを取得する意思があったように見えたとしても、その後の行動はそれが逆であることを立証していると判断した[19]。侵害訴訟の終盤においては、HuaweiがConversantからFRAND条件でライセンスを取得する意思があるとはもはや考えられなかった[20]

本裁判所は、内容に関しては、実施者の意思表示は「高い基準」に基づくのではなく、「包括的」で「非公式」な宣言でも十分であると説明した[21]。実施者の行動は、いかなる場合でも、ライセンスに署名するという「明確な意図」を示すものであるべきである。この意図は、その後のライセンス交渉全体において実施者を「導く」ものとなるべきである[22]

Conversantの侵害通知を受領した後、両当事者はクレームチャートを交換し、ConversantのSEPポートフォリオの技術的メリットについて話し合うために数回の会議を行っている。本裁判所は、このことから、Huaweiは当初FRANDライセンスを取得する意思があったものと判断した[23]。しかしながら、その後Huaweiがとった行動はこの仮定と矛盾するものであった。

本裁判所は、Huaweiが米国で係争中の他の携帯電話メーカー2社に対する特許侵害訴訟が Conversant に有利な形で判断されることを条件としてライセンス締結を行ったという事実は、意思の欠如を示すものであるとした(同判決第239節及び第241節参照)。本裁判所は、実施者が交渉中のライセンスに含まれる特許の有効性及び必須性に関する判決について情報を得ることは実施者の利益となるものであるが、かかる訴訟の結果をライセンス締結の前提条件とすることは受け入れられないとした。その理由は、特に、SEP保有者との契約に組み込まれた調整メカニズムにより、ポートフォリオ特許を無効とする裁判所の判決に対処することが可能なためである[24]

さらに、本裁判所は、Huaweiが2016年3月12日にConversantに(カウンター)オファーした(極めて低い)料率について、Huaweiによるとそれが第三者ライセンサーとのライセンスに基づいていたことを十分に説明しなかったと批判した[25]。Huaweiはこれまでのところ、第三者ライセンサーとの間で締結されたNDAを行使している。本裁判所は、Huaweiは第三者ライセンサーと合意済みのロイヤルティ料率を開示したものの、それ以上の情報(特にそれぞれの契約のクロスライセンス要素に関する情報)の共有を拒否しており、Huaweiの行動は矛盾していると判断した[26]。さらに、秘密保持に関する懸念はHuaweiとConversant の間のNDAによって対処することが可能であり、Conversantは進んでこれに署名していたことを強調した[27]

また、、HuaweiがConversantとの交渉開始から約3年後になってNDAの締結を交渉の継続を条件としていたことも、(ライセンス取得の)意思のなさを示していた[28]。本裁判所はHuawei自身がNDAのドラフトに関する話し合いを2013年に中止していたことを考慮し、数年後にNDAの締結を主張することによりHuaweiは主にライセンス交渉を遅らせることを意図していたと判断した[29]

さらに、本裁判所は、HuaweiがConversantとのライセンス契約の締結において、正当な理由なしに補完的条件を付したことを指摘した[30]。特に、Huaweiは、少なくとも他の10社の中国の大手携帯電話メーカーが当該ライセンスを取得する前に、ConversantのSEPポートフォリオの中国に関係する部分に対するライセンスの取得を拒否していた[31]

本裁判所は、Huaweiの行為全般を鑑み、「有効な」SEPのライセンスを取得する用意が (依然として)あるという係属訴訟中に行われたHuaweiの声明は、その時点までにHuaweiが示した意思のなさを「取り消す」ものであるという考えを否定した[32] 。この認識は2020年3月12日付のHuaweiのカウンターオファーについても当てはまり、提案された明らかに低いライセンス料率については十分な正当性が存在しなかった[33]

 

SEP保有者の申出

Huaweiがライセンス取得の意思を適切に表明しなかったことから、本裁判所は、HuaweiフレームワークにおいてConversantがFRANDライセンスの申出を行う義務は、本件には該当しないと説明した[34]。これにかかわらず、本裁判所は、2017年7月のConversantの申出は、形式と内容の両方の点でフレームワークの要件を満たしていると判断した[35]

本裁判所によれば、形式面については、SEP保有者の申出は書面でなければならず、ロイヤルティ、関連する計算パラメーター(ライセンス料率、参照値等)及び計算方法を具体的に記載する必要がある[36]。料率の「数学的由来」の説明は必要なく、SEP保有者は仮定や評価を根拠とすることができる[37]。FRAND の非差別的(ND)要素については、SEP保有者は被告を他の既存ライセンシーと同等に扱うことを証明するか、個々のケースで異なる扱いが正当化される理由を詳しく説明する必要がある[38]
 

同等の契約

本裁判所は、申出条件の合理性を判断する上で、比較可能なライセンス契約の存在は「重要な指標」であると強調した[39]。しかしながら特許権者は、保有するすべてのライセンス契約を示す義務はないとした。特に、申出条件が不合理及び/又は差別的であるか否かの評価に関連しない契約は、開示する必要はないとされている[40]。本裁判所は、全ての第三者との契約の包括的な開示が実務上一般的であることの特定には至らなかった[41]

このような背景から、本裁判所は、Conversantは真に関連する比較可能な契約について十分な情報を提供していたと判断した[42]

その一方で、本裁判所は、ConversantはHuaweiに申し出たライセンスと比較できないような契約条件を詳述する義務はないと判断した[43]。これはConversantが保有する(SEPではない)実施特許を対象とするライセンスに関しても同様である[44]。Conversantが市場からの撤退直前の実施者と(比較的低い料率で)締結した契約も比較対象とはならないと考えられた[45]。いずれにせよ、本裁判所は、ライセンシーが関連製品市場においてもはやHuaweiと直接する競合する相手ではなく、当該契約はHuaweiの競争力に影響を与えないため、そのような契約を開示する必要はないと判断している[46]。同じことが期限切れのライセンス契約にも適用される。そのような契約は市場における競合他社に対するHuaweiの地位を損なうものではない[47]。また、本裁判所は、クロスライセンスの要素を含む契約は、原則として、そのような考慮を含まないライセンスと直接比較することはできないと指摘した[47]

さらに、本裁判所は、本件においてConversantは当該SEPの以前の所有者によって締結されたライセンス契約を詳細に説明する義務はないと判断した[47]。デュッセルドルフ裁判所の判例では、SEP保有者の前に当該特許を法律上所有していた者によるFRAND誓約は、ライセンシーに提示される条件に関してその後の所有者を拘束することを示唆している。しかし、Huaweiは当該特許の前所有者と契約を締結していたため、前所有者が以前に締結した契約の条件についてConversantがHuaweiに情報を提供する必要はなかった[47]。さらに、Huaweiは、2017年3月にConversantに行ったカウンターオファーを当該(前所有者との)契約を基に形成していた[47]
 

関連する判決例

上記に加え、本裁判所はConversantが裁判において、同社特許の有効性及び標準必須性並びにライセンス契約のFRAND適合性に関する裁判所の判断を適切に提示したと判断した[48]

本裁判所は(関連する同等の契約に加えて)デュッセルドルフの裁判所が表明した、SEP保有者は原則として既存のライセンス契約に関する判決も提示する必要があるという見解を改めて強調した[49]。Conversantは、自社のポートフォリオに含まれる特許に関連するいくつかの裁判を特定し、当該裁判結果に関する情報を提供することでこれを実現した。
 

公平で合理的な条件

本裁判所は、そう述べた上で、Conversantによるライセンスの申出は内容の点でもFRANDであることを確認した[50]

本裁判所は、ライセンス料率のみならず、ライセンスの全ての条件(対象となる特許、地域範囲等)が公平かつ合理的でなければならないとした[51]。本裁判所は、特にライセンス料率について、客観的に見て公平な料率を超えるすべての料率がTFEU第102条の下で搾取的かつ不合理とみなされるわけではないことを強調した。そうみなされるためには、2つの料金の間に川下市場におけるライセンシーの競争力を阻害するような明らかな差異がなければならないとしている[51]

この点に関して、本裁判所は、同一条件の下で相当数のライセンスが既に締結されていることは、そのような契約が市場支配的な地位の搾取の下で締結されたものでない限り、提示された条件が実際に公平かつ合理的であることを示すものとなり得るとの見解を示した[51]

また、(証拠としての効力はないものの)裁判所が決定したライセンス条件も、当該判決を下した裁判所が全ての関連要素を包括的に考慮していた場合、FRAND適合性を評価する際に考慮されるべき側面である[52]。他の欧州の法域における裁判例は、いずれにせよ専門家の意見として適切である[53]。しかしながら、裁判所の判決から得られるFRAND評価基準は、個々のケースの実際の事実に「トレースバック」することが必要である。なぜならそれら事実が実際にライセンスが供与されたSEPポートフォリオの価値を反映しているからである[54]

上記を勘案し、本裁判所は、ConversantがHuaweiに対する申出が公平かつ合理的なものであったことを、Conversantは十分に示していると判断した[55]。Conversantは、Huaweiに申し出たロイヤルティの計算が、Huaweiと第三者SEP保有者との間の紛争に関する2017年の判決で英国高等法院が採用した方法に従うものであることを特に詳しく説明していた[56]。両事件の対象となったポートフォリオは比較可能であり[57]、Huaweiは英国高等法院が検討した計算パラメーターに実質的に異議を唱えていなかったことから[58]、本裁判所は、前述の判決はConversantの申出が妥当であることの裏付けとなる十分な指標を提供していると判断した[59]

この状況において、本裁判所は、ポートフォリオに含まれる全ての特許は有効と推定されると指摘した。したがって、ポートフォリオ特許を無効とする判決がない限り、特許の有効性はロイヤルティ計算における決定要因とはならない[60]。また、ポートフォリオ特許が無効となっても、必ずしも申出が「不合理」となるわけではない。不合理となるためには、ポートフォリオに「顕著な」変化が生じなければならない[61]

本裁判所は、Conversantのポートフォリオに含まれる8つの中国特許の無効化が、Conversantの申出を「不合理」とするとHuaweiは示していないと判断した[62]。さらに、(無効化されている場合)どの特許が無効となったのか、それがライセンス料率の算定において有する重要性[63]、又はポートフォリオの特許が実際にどの程度標準必須でなかったのかについても示していなかった[64]。Conversantは相当数のクレームチャートを提示していたため、Huawei側には関連特許の必須性を争う詳細な弁論が必要であったが、それを行っていなかった。必須性を扱う国外裁判所の判決に依拠する上では不十分である[65]

さらに本裁判所は、Conversantの申出にポートフォリオ特許の数が減少した場合にロイヤルティを減額するメカニズムを規定する「調整条項」が含まれていたことは納得がいくものだとした[66]。本裁判所は、FRANDの申出にはそのようなメカニズムが必要だと指摘している[67]。しかし、「調整条項」を含めることは必須ではない。ポートフォリオの変化については、契約期間中にポートフォリオ特許が失効した場合を考慮できるよう、ライセンス供与契約の期間を短くすることによる対応も可能である[67]

 

本裁判所はさらに、Conversantの提示は、(FRANDに準拠したロイヤルティの決定を争う)中国の南京で係争中の並行訴訟を考慮に入れていないことを理由に不合理とは見なされないとの見解を示した[68]。FRANDロイヤルティを決定した外国裁判所の判決は、判決を下した裁判所の「国内」市場が対象の場合と、(特に)海外の他の市場を対象とする場合の双方において、必ずしも正式な拘束力を有さない[68]。したがって、本裁判所は、国外法域も対象とするグローバルポートフォリオライセンスの条件がFRANDか否かについて判断することは妨げられないと強調した[68]

実施者のカウンターオファー

最後に、本裁判所は、2020年3月12日付のHuaweiの「その他主要条件(Key Offer Terms)」に、ライセンス契約締結のために当事者が合意しなければならない要素がすべて含まれているものではないことから、FRANDに準拠したカウンターオファーとは言えないと指摘した[68]。 
 

  • [1] Unwired Planet対Huawei、英国高等法院、2017年4月5日付判決、[2017] EWHC 711(Pat)。
  • [2] Conversant Wireless対Huawei Technologies、デュッセルドルフ地方裁判所、2020年8月27日付判決、事件番号: 4b O 30/18(引用 Düsseldorfer Entscheidungen, Nr. 3055, www.D-Prax.de)。
  • [3] 同判決、第124節及び第129-210節。
  • [4] 同判決、第124節。
  • [5] Huawei対ZTE、欧州連合司法裁判所、2017年7月16日付判決、事件番号: C-170/13。
  • [6] Conversant Wireless対Huawei Technologies、デュッセルドルフ地方裁判所、2020年8月27日付判決、第221節以下。
  • [7] 同判決、第217節。
  • [8] 同判決、第223節。
  • [9] 同判決、第224節。しかしながら、パテントプールを通じて同じ特許のライセンスを供与するという並列的な選択肢は、特にパテントプールの申出条件がFRANDである場合、最終的に市場における支配的地位の濫用との認定を排除することができる。
  • [10] 同判決、第212節及び第225節以下。
  • [11] 同判決、第225節。
  • [12] 同判決、第227節。
  • [13] 同判決、第231節。
  • [14] 同判決、第231-232節。
  • [15] 同判決、第235節。
  • [16] 同判決、第232節。
  • [17] 同判決、第234節。
  • [18] 同判決、第236節及び第238節。
  • [19] 同判決、第236節及び第266節。
  • [20] 同判決、第237節。
  • [21] 同判決、第238節。
  • [22] 同判決、第239及び241節。
  • [23] 同判決、第241節。
  • [24] 同判決、第245節。
  • [25] 同判決、第245節。さらに本裁判所は、Huaweiが守秘義務を持ち出して関連情報の提供を差し控えることに成功したことに疑問を呈した。385節以下参照。
  • [26] 同判決、第246節、第389節以下も参照。
  • [27] 同判決、第251節。
  • [28] 同判決、第257節。
  • [29] 同判決、第258節。
  • [30] 同判決、第259節以下。
  • [31] 同判決、第261-266節。
  • [32] 同判決、第266節。
  • [33] 同判決、第269節。
  • [34] 同判決、第267節。
  • [35] 同判決、第272節。
  • [36] 同判決、第273節。
  • [37] 同判決、第296節。
  • [38] 同判決、第297節。
  • [39] 同判決、第275節。
  • [40] 同判決、第277節以下。節及び第296節。
  • [41] 同判決、第280節。
  • [42] 同判決、第282節。
  • [43] 同判決、第286節以下。
  • [44] 同判決、第300節。
  • [45] 同判決、第304節。
  • [46] 同判決、第305節。
  • [47] 同判決、第308節以下。
  • [48] 同判決、第311節。
  • [49] 同判決、第363節。
  • [50] 同判決、第365節。
  • [51] 同判決、第367節。
  • [52] 同判決、第368節。
  • [53] 同判決、第378節以下。
  • [54] 同判決、第379節。
  • [55] 同判決、第393節以下。
  • [56] 同判決、第374節。
  • [57] 同判決、第396節。
  • [58] 同判決、第396節以下。
  • [59] 同判決、第414節。
  • [60] 同判決、第420節。
  • [61] 同判決、第414節以下。
  • [62] 同判決、第419節。
  • [63] 同判決、第397節。
  • [64] 同判決、第423節。
  • [65] 同判決、第457節以下。
  • [66] 同判決、第460節。
  • [67] 同判決、第461節。
  • [68] 同判決、第464節以下。


Cases from LG Mannheim - District Court


LG Mannheim

4 3月 2016 - Case No. 7 O 24/14

A. Facts

Case No. 7 O 24/14 [1] related to the infringement of patent EP 0.734.181.B1, which covered technology for decoding video signals in the DVD standard (‘subtitle data encoding/decoding and recording medium for the same’). [2] The defendant was a German subsidiary of a Taiwanese electronics company. It sold computers that used such DVD-software. The claimant, a Japanese electronics company, commercialised the patent in question through a patent pool. In early 2013, the patent pool approached the defendant’s parent company about the use of their patents in general.

On 30 May 2014, the defendant offered to enter into a license agreement for the respective German patent. The defendant indicated that it was willing to enter into negotiations for a portfolio license (but for Germany only). It was also willing to have the claimant determine the royalties owed under section 315 of the German Civil Code. On 25 July 2014, the claimant suggested to change the license offer to a worldwide portfolio license. The defendant rejected and informed the claimant on 22 August 2014 as to the number of respective computers they put into circulation between July 2013 and June 2014 in Germany.

On 13 March 2015, the claimant made an offer for a worldwide portfolio license. On 5 May 2015, the defendant requested the relevant claim charts and further details as to how the license fees had been calculated. On 25 June 2015, the claimant sent the claim charts but refused to elaborate on the calculation method. The claimant suggested a meeting in which it would answer further questions. The defendant responded on 13 July 2015 that most of the claim charts lacked necessary details. In a meeting between the claimant and the defendant’s parent company on 3 September 2015, the parties were unable to reach an agreement. On 30 September 2015, the claimant sent a PowerPoint presentation containing explanations regarding the patent and the calculation of the license fees.

The District Court of Mannheim granted an injunction order on 4 March 2016. [3] It also held that the defendant was liable for compensation and ordered it to render full and detailed accounts of its sales to determine the amount of compensation owed. Further, the District Court ordered a recall and removal of all infringing products from the relevant distribution channels.

B. Court’s Reasoning

1. Notice of Infringement

According to the Huawei/ZTE ruling, the claimant is required to notify the defendant of the alleged patent infringement. According to the District Court, this notice is supposed to provide the defendant an opportunity to assess the patent situation. [4] Thus, it is insufficient to notify the defendant that its products contain the respective standard and it is therefore infringing the SEP. Instead, the claimant is required to specify the infringed patent, the standard in question, and that the patent has been declared essential. The level of detail required depends on the respective situation. [5] However, the description does not need to be as thorough as a statement of claim in patent litigation. In the eyes of the court, the customary claim charts (which show the relevant patent claims and the corresponding passages of the standard) will typically be sufficient. By sending the charts to the defendant, the claimant had met its obligations under the Huawei/ZTE ruling. [6]

The Huawei/ZTE principles require the SEP holder to give notice of infringement before commencing patent infringement proceedings. Otherwise, the SEP holder would abuse its market power, which would mean that the patent infringement court would not be able to grant an injunction order. However, according to the District Court, in such a situation the SEP holder would not lose its patent rights, but would be prevented from exercising those rights in court. [7] Proceedings that had been commenced prior to the Huawei/ZTE ruling present a special case. In that situation, the SEP holder could not have been aware of the obligations that the CJEU subsequently imposed on claimants. Thus, it must be possible for an SEP holder to go through the Huawei/ZTE process subsequently without losing the pending lawsuit. [8] On this basis, the District Could held that the claimant had taken all necessary steps after commencing proceedings, which met the Huawei/ZTE requirements. [9]

2. The SEP Owner’s Licensing Offer

The District Court expressed its view that the CJEU had wanted to establish a procedure that keeps the infringement proceedings free of complicated deliberations about the conditions of the offer, similarly to the German Federal Court of Justice decision Orange Book Standard. [10] If the alleged infringer argues that the conditions of the offer are not FRAND – and, according to the court, alleged infringers typically do so – it is not the role of the infringement court to examine the conditions of the offer and decide whether they are FRAND or not. [5] Thus, the District Court took the view that an infringement court only assesses in a summary review whether the conditions were not evidently non-FRAND. An offer is only non-FRAND if it is under the relevant circumstances abusive. For example, this would be the case if the conditions offered to the alleged infringer were significantly worse than those offered to third parties. [11] The District Court held that in the case in issue the royalties were not evidently non-FRAND because the royalty rates were generally accepted in the market. [12]

The offer needs to include the calculation method in respect of the royalties. [11] However, the CJEU did not elaborate on the level of detail required. [13] The District Court took the view that the SEP holder needs to enable the alleged infringer to understand why the offer is FRAND. In the case in issue, the claimant had included the calculation method. It had also provided further explanations regarding the calculation, which met the Huawei/ZTE requirements. [14]

3. The standard implementer’s reaction

The alleged infringer is required to respond to the SEP proprietor’s license offer, even if the infringer is of the opinion that the offer does not meet the FRAND criteria. [13] The only possible exception is an offer that, by means of summary examination, is clearly not FRAND, which would constitute an abuse of market power. A counter-offer would need to be made as soon as possible, taking into account recognized commercial practices in the field and good faith. The District Court held that the defendant had not made an adequate counter-offer. It is common business practice to enter into license agreements in respect of worldwide portfolio licenses. [15] The defendant’s counter-offer only included the respective German license, which was deemed by the District Court as insufficient. [15] Further, the defendant had not made an adequate deposit into the court as required under the Huawei/ZTE principles. [16]

C. Other Important Issues

The court held that the procedures prescribed by the Huawei/ZTE ruling apply to applications for injunctions and recall orders, but not to rendering accounts and compensation. Regarding rendering accounts and compensation, SEP holders could pursue their rights in court without additional requirements. [13]

Further, the District Court was of the opinion that an alleged breach of Art. 101 TFEU could not be raised as a defence in patent infringement proceedings. Even if the claimant’s conduct was anti-competitive pursuant to Art. 101 TFEU, the standardisation agreement would be void. [17] This has no implications for patent infringement proceedings.

The court also held that there was no general rule that the SEP holder could only bring proceedings against the manufacturer of the infringing product. [18] In the eyes of the District Court, the Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe decision 6 U 44/15 (23 April 2015) did not establish such a principle. In that case, the defendant was a company that acted merely as a distributor of infringing products (which means it was reselling the products without making any alterations). In contrast, the defendant in the present case had installed the infringing software onto laptops and then sold them under its own brand name. Thus, the two cases were not comparable. [18]

  • [1] See also OLG Karlsruhe, 8 September 2016, 6 U 58/16 (application to stay execution of LG Mannheim, 7 O 24/14).
  • [2]  LG Mannheim, 4 March 2016, 7 O 24/14, pp. 4-6.
  • [3] LG Mannheim, 4 March 2016, 7 O 24/14, pp. 2-3.
  • [4] LG Mannheim, 4 March 2016, 7 O 24/14, p. 22.
  • [5] LG Mannheim, 4 March 2016, 7 O 24/14, p. 23.
  • [6] LG Mannheim, 4 March 2016, 7 O 24/14, p. 34/35.
  • [7] LG Mannheim, 4 March 2016, 7 O 24/14, p. 26.
  • [8] LG Mannheim, 4 March 2016, 7 O 24/14, pp. 27-30.
  • [9] LG Mannheim, 4 March 2016, 7 O 24/14, p. 33.
  • [10] LG Mannheim, 4 March 2016, 7 O 24/14, p. 21.
  • [11] LG Mannheim, 4 March 2016, 7 O 24/14, p. 24.
  • [12] LG Mannheim, 4 March 2016, 7 O 24/14, p. 37.
  • [13] LG Mannheim, 4 March 2016, 7 O 24/14, p. 25.
  • [14] LG Mannheim, 4 March 2016, 7 O 24/14, p. 35/36.
  • [15] LG Mannheim, 4 March 2016, 7 O 24/14, p. 38.
  • [16] LG Mannheim, 4 March 2016, 7 O 24/14, pp. 38-40.
  • [17] LG Mannheim, 4 March 2016, 7 O 24/14, p. 43.
  • [18] LG Mannheim, 4 March 2016, 7 O 24/14, p. 44.


Saint Lawrence v Deutsche Telekom

27 11月 2015 - Case No. 2 O 106/14

  1. Facts
    Since 28 August 2014, Claimant, a non-practicing entity established under German law, is registered as the current proprietor of the European patent EP 1.125.284 B1, originally granted to applicant “V” (Voiceage Corporation). Whether “V” validly transferred the patent to Claimant is disputed between the parties. Defendant is a company active in the telecommunications sector and which markets AMR-WB-based devices. The patent has been found to be essential to ETSI’s AMR-WB standard by IPEC. After the adoption (“freeze”) of AMR-WB by ETSI on 10 April 2001 “V”, who joined ETSI only after the standard had been set, repeatedly—on 29 May 2001, 26 October 2004 and 7 January 2010—declared its readiness to grant licenses on FRAND terms for the respective patent.
    After initiating the present action—Defendant having been served with the claim on 7 August 2014—Claimant informed Defendant by letter as of 31 July 2014 (including a copy of the statement of claims as of 23 July 2014) that it was ready to grant licenses on FRAND terms for the patent-in-suit and five other German patents allegedly used by Defendant. Inviting Defendant to discuss such a licensing agreement Claimant offered, in addition, to communicate a draft licensing agreement by letter as of 9 December 2014. Defendant did not show any interest in acquiring a license regarding the patent-in-suit.
    Prior to the infringement action, Claimant neither tried to contact nor to make a licensing offer to Defendant’s supplier “H”(HTE) which, knowing about the lawsuit since August 2014, acted as an intervener in the present proceedings. Subsequent to Defendant’s third-party notice, “H” started licensing negotiations with Claimant on 9 December 2014. After “H” had signed a non-disclosure agreement provided by Claimant on 22 December 2014, Claimant submitted a draft licensing agreement on 12 January 2015, being corrected on 26 January 2015. Talks took place on 9 February 2015. By letter as of 23 February 2015 “H” made a supplemented proposal for the determination of the licensing conditions. In an e-mail as of 6 March 2015 “H” declared its willingness to take a license for Germany alone and specified conditions. As a reaction to Claimant’s offer as of 25 March 2015 concerning a worldwide license “H” submitted, on 2 April 2015, a counter-offer that was limited to Germany and suggested third party determination of royalties by the High Court of England and Wales. While Claimant rejected the counter-offer by letter as of 19 April 2015, “H” declared to adhere to its offer by letter as of 8 June 2015. On 3 September 2015 “H” sent an additional letter according to which a bank guaranteed, under certain conditions, payment of royalties for past use of the relevant patents in Germany. As Claimant criticized the letter as incomprehensible by e-mail of 13 September 2015, Defendant subsequently (inter alia by submitting documents to the court on 23 September 2015) explained in greater detail how the royalties were to be calculated.
  2. Court’s reasoning
    1. Market power and notice of infringement
      The court finds, in any case, no abuse of (potential) market power, as H behaved tactically motivated causing delay and made its own offers linked to unacceptable conditions. However, the court leaves open the questions (1) of whether the SEP conveyed actual market power to Claimant, (2) of whether—even absent actual market dominance—the FRAND declaration subjected Claimant to the conduct requirements for a market dominant SEP proprietor, (3) of whether Claimant is to be treated as if it had made the FRAND declaration itself, and (4) of whether a refusal to grant FRAND licenses to Defendant’s device suppliers entitled Defendant to a FRAND defense regardless of its own readiness to take a license. [1] The court made however clear that enforcing the right of injunction is not a misuse when the infringer, even after the complaint has been raised and despite a reasonable timeframe, does not show any interest in getting a license.
      As regards the Huawei requirement to alert the standard user of the infringement, the court focused on different aspects. Since, in the present case, Defendant refrained from expressing its willingness to conclude a licensing agreement on FRAND terms it was left undecided whether Claimant complied with its obligation to notify prior to the initiation of court proceedings by sending, after bringing the action but before the statement of claims was served to Defendant, a letter from which Defendant could recognize that an action had already been brought.
      The Mannheim court did also not determine whether Claimant, in order to avoid a violation of Article 102 TFEU, had to inform “H” about the patent infringement because the latter learned or could have easily learned about the possible violation of the SEP during a phone call with Defendant in August 2014. [2] However, “H” did not sufficiently express its willingness to conclude a licensing agreement on FRAND terms because it took “H” more than three months to submit a license request after it had become aware of the court action. “H” could have objected a violation of Article 102 TFEU if it had expressed such willingness and complied with the subsequent Huawei obligations. However, “H” failed to do so also because it refrained from submitting a satisfying counter-offer. [3]
    2. The SEP owner’s licensing offer
      The court seems to favor FRAND-compatibility of worldwide licenses as it clarifies that limiting the counter-offer to Germany was “unacceptable” but does not decide on the issue. Also, the court left undecided whether the royalty rate offered by Claimant satisfied FRAND. [4]
    3. The standard implementer’s reaction
      Considering the subsequent conduct obligation of the standard user, the district court found that a FRAND counter-offer has to be submitted irrespective of whether the preceding licensing offer made by the SEP proprietor itself is FRAND. In order to trigger the counter-offer obligation it is sufficient that the licensing offer contains—as in the present case—all information, in particular regarding royalty calculation, which is necessary for Defendant to submit a counter-offer corresponding to FRAND terms. The Huawei obligation to diligently respond does not merely arise where a licensing offer is FRAND but it has to be considered as an expression of the sincere willingness of Defendant to conclude a licensing agreement. If such willingness is given, the patent proprietor will not be allowed to present a subsequent FRAND licensing offer after the initiation of proceedings. [5]
      The court then analyzed whether Defendant’s counter-offer met the ECJ requirements in terms of content, but left it undecided whether a limitation to Germany could be in compliance with FRAND terms. It denied the existence of a “specific” counter-offer in the present case because the amount of the royalty was not specified in the document itself but was intended to be determined by an independent third party. [6] In consequence, “H” could not fulfill its obligation to provide appropriate security because it was not possible to anticipate which amount of royalty would have been stipulated by the “independent third party”. [7]
  3. Other important issues
    In the course of licensing negotiations, the standard user is neither prevented from challenging validity, standard-essentiality or effective use of the patent in question nor to reserve its right to do so. [8]
    As regards ownership and the transfer of the patent from the original patent proprietor to the non-practicing entity, registration in the patent register in accordance with § 30 (3) PatG establishes the presumption of ownership, allowing the proprietor to enforce all rights derived from the SEP as long as the presumption has not been successfully rebutted by Defendants. [9]
    No patent ambush-defense based on § 242 BGB could be raised. As the court assessed in a detailed, torts-based analysis, [10] Defendant and Intervener could establish neither collusion of “V” and “N” (a participant in the setting of the AMR-WB standard) nor bad faith of “N” regarding “V” ’s patents. Hence, non-declaration by “N” did not amount to a patent ambush. Nor could non-declaration by “V” constitute a patent ambush since “V” was no member of ETSI—and, hence, not bound by a duty to disclose resulting from ETSI’s IP policy—when the AMR-WB standard was being set. Furthermore, Defendant and Intervener could not show why they should have been adversely affected by “V” ’s alleged violation of the ETSI IPR Policy, given that Claimant had declared its willingness to grant a license on FRAND terms. [11] In particular, they could not substantiate that a different form of the standard, avoiding “V” ’s patents, would have been set, had the standard-setting participants known about these patents. Cf. LG Mannheim, 27 November 2015 - Case No. 2 O 106/14, para. 131, i.a. on the mechanism of “blind selection” among technological alternatives, (initially) irrespective of existing patents and their ownership situation. Given these deficiencies in the attempt to establish a patent ambush the court left open whether such an ambush would result in an obligation to grant a royalty free- or “only” a FRAND license but indicated to favor the FRAND license-sanction. [13]
  • [1] Case No. 2 O 106/14, para. 133
  • [2] Case No. 2 O 106/14, para. 139-144
  • [3] Case No. 2 O 106/14, para. 146-149
  • [4] Case No. 2 O 106/14, para. 152-153
  • [5] Case No. 2 O 106/14, para. 153-160
  • [6] Case No. 2 O 106/14, para. 158-164
  • [7] Case No. 2 O 106/14, para. 167-169
  • [8] Case No. 2 O 106/14, para. 146
  • [9] Case No. 2 O 106/14, para. 78-80
  • [10] Cf. for details LG Mannheim, 27 November 2015 - Case No. 2 O 106/14, para. 119-131
  • [11] Case No. 2 O 106/14, para. 118-131
  • [12] Cf. LG Mannheim, 27 November 2015 - Case No. 2 O 106/14, para. 131, i.a. on the mechanism of “blind selection” among technological alternatives, (initially) irrespective of existing patents and their ownership situation.
  • [13] Case No. 2 O 106/14, para. 198


NTT DoCoMo v HTC

29 1月 2016 - Case No. 7 O 66/15

  1. Facts
    Claimant owns the patent EP 1 914 945, declared to be essential with regard to ETSI’s UMTS standard. Defendant markets devices implementing the UMTS standard (in particular the HSUPA/EUL technology). On 19 March 2014 Claimant sent to Defendant’s group parent a detailed licensing offer and explained its conditions at several instances before filing suit in April 2015. As of 7 April 2014 and 15 July 2014, Claimant communicated to Defendant’s group parent company claim charts in order to demonstrate standard-essentiality of its patent and further explained the issue in a presentation on 8 July 2014. Defendant submitted its first counter-offer on 30 October 2015. The counter-offer envisaged a 3 year-license limited to some of the countries in which Defendant markets its products. Claimant rejected the counter-offer on 12 November 2015. Defendant did not provide security but merely promised to do so, based on a calculation including sales of relevant devices in Germany only. Claimant rejected this and demanded security based on worldwide sales.
  2. Court’s reasoning
    1. General meaning of the Huawei framework
      Prior to discussing specific conduct requirements established by the Huawei ruling, the court sketches its approach in a general manner. [1] According to the court the Huawei decision establishes a set of rules of due conduct in SEP licensing negotiations. Based on whether the parties comply with these rules the respective court can determine whether an SEP owner’s seeking of an injunction and a recall of products constitutes an abuse of a position of market dominance or a justified reaction to a standard implementer’s delaying tactics. In consequence, the respective court does not—unless it has to decide a claim for the payment of licensing fees and not claims for injunction and recall of products—have to rule on the substance of the offered licensing conditions or their being FRAND. [2] This is in line with recognized commercial practice according to which reasonable parties will not usually want courts to determine their licensing conditions. Furthermore, the ECJ has—from the perspective of the Mannheim District court—stressed that the exercise of the exclusive rights conveyed by a patent will be barred only in very exceptional circumstances. As a result, it is up to the standard implementer to show that such exceptional circumstances are present. [3]
    2. Market power and notice of infringement
      The court does not elaborate on the market power issue. As part of the notice of infringement [4] the court deems it necessary for the proprietor to identify the (allegedly) violated patent, including the patent number, and to inform that the patent has been declared standard-essential. Furthermore, the proprietor has not only to name the standard but to specify the pertinent part of the standard and the infringing element of the implementer’s products in a way that enables the standard implementer to assess whether its use of the standard infringes on the patent-in-suit. The level of detail required must be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending mainly on the expertise of – or available to – the implementer. Presenting claim charts corresponding to recognized commercial practice for licensing negotiations is, in principle, an acceptable way to give notice of the alleged infringement. In casu the court considered the proprietor’s notice as sufficient. [5] In particular, notice was given before the bringing of an action for infringement and the proprietor had submitted claim charts not only with regard to the patent-in-suit but also with regard to six other patents from the portfolio offered for license, a sample which the court deemed in accordance with recognized commercial practice. Sufficient notice having taken place, the court left open the question whether, (1) the Huawei rules applied at all in spite of the action being brought before the ECJ’s decision, and whether (2) the proprietor was obliged to submit claim charts for other patents than the patent-in-suit.
    3. The SEP proprietor’s licensing offer
      The court’s general understanding of the Huawei rules of conduct (cf. above) has a considerable impact on the way it intends to react to a SEP proprietor’s licensing offer: [6] The offer must specify the relevant conditions in a way that, in order to conclude a licensing agreement, the standard implementer has merely to state his acceptance of the offer. The calculation of the license fee, in particular, must be explained in a manner that enables the standard implementer to objectively assess its FRAND conformity. Even if the standard implementer disputes the FRAND character of the offer it is not the court’s business to determine whether the licensing conditions are actually FRAND. Neither is the SEP proprietor prohibited from offering conditions slightly above the FRAND threshold. A differing view of the parties on what constitutes FRAND is to be expected and provides no reason for cartel law-based intervention. An exploitative abuse of market power can, however, be present where the proprietor, after having made a FRAND declaration, offers conditions that are, under the circumstances of the case and without objective justification, manifestly less favorable (in an economic sense) than the conditions offered to other licensees. Correspondingly, the respective court is only required to determine, based on a summary assessment, whether the proprietor’s licensing offer evidently violates the FRAND concept. In casu the court accepted the Huawei compliance of the licensing offer, [7] in particular because the proprietor had explained its calculation of the licensing fee based on the percentage of patents in the WCMA/SIPRO and the VIA patent pools held by the proprietor. The proprietor was not required to prove its share in the patent pools. The parties disagreed over whether the smallest saleable unit forms an appropriate basis for royalty calculation and whether it is acceptable to look only at the size, not the quality of a proprietor’s share in a relevant patent pool. The court, however, considered these issues as not decisive for the Huawei-conformity of the licensing offer.
    4. The standard implementer’s reaction
      As a further consequence of the court’s general approach, the standard implementer’s duty to diligently react to the proprietor’s licensing offer is not removed only because the offer does not fully comply with FRAND. [8] . An exception applies only where it can be established by a mere summary assessment that the offer evidently violates FRAND. If a reaction of the alleged infringer is due, the “diligence”, i.e. timeliness, of this offer has to be determined cases-by-case, based on the principles of good faith and recognized commercial practice. In casu the standard implementer’s reaction was insufficient (1) because a counter-offer was made only 1.5 years after receiving the licensing offer and 0.5 years after the bringing of the proprietor’s action, (2) because security was merely promised, not provided, and (3) because the amount of security offered fell short of the court’s suggestions.
  3. Other important issues
    The court underlines that a SEP proprietor has to respect the Huawei rules of conduct only with regard to an action for prohibitory injunction or the recall of products. It is, however, free from their grip when bringing an action seeking the rendering of accounts in relation to past acts of use or an award of damages in respect of those acts of use.
  • [1] Case No. 7 O 66/15, para. 53 et seq.
  • [2] Case No. 7 O 66/15, para. 56
  • [3] Case No. 7 O 66/15, para. 53
  • [4] Case No. 7 O 66/15, para. 57
  • [5] Case No. 7 O 66/15, para. 65-69
  • [6] Case No. 7 O 66/15, para. 58
  • [7] Case No. 7 O 66/15, para. 70-72
  • [8] Case No. 7 O 66/15, para. 59 et seq


Pioneer v Acer

8 1月 2016 - Case No. 7 O 96/14

  1. Facts
    Claimant owns the patent EP 1 267348, allegedly essential to the DVD standard and administered with regard to its licensing by the patent pool “A”. Early in 2013 “A” and the Defendant’s group parent were in contact regarding “A” ’s DVD licensing activity, but no concrete notice of infringement was made and no licensing negotiations ensued. After having been sued for patent infringement Defendant submitted, on 6 October 2014, an offer to license the patent-in-suit for Germany at FRAND conditions, with the exact royalty rate to be determined by Claimant pursuant to § 315 German Civil Code. Furthermore, Defendant declared to be willing to negotiate a portfolio license for all German patents of Claimant and, in case the negotiations were to fail, to have the licensing conditions determined by a state court or arbitration tribunal. In order to indicate what Defendant considered to be a FRAND royalty rate Defendant submitted an expert opinion. As of 28 November 2014, Claimant proposed to modify the conditions to the effect that Defendant’s group parent was supposed to take a worldwide portfolio license comprising all Claimant’s portfolio patents administered by “A”. Claimant made a (perhaps: additional) FRAND declaration with regard to the patent and informed Defendant thereof in December 2014. After Defendant had rejected this offer, Claimant offered, on 13 March and 13 April 2015, a worldwide portfolio license to Defendant’s group parent company. To the offer were added claim charts for two pool patents, as well as information on how Claimant deduced the royalty from the overall royalty rates of the “A”-patent pool. On 5 May 2015, Defendant’s group parent requested claim charts regarding all patents to be licensed as well as further information on royalty calculation. Claimant sent, on 7 August 2015, claim charts for five additional patents declaring its willingness to provide further information as soon as constructive technical discussions would be taken up. In a filing to the court as of 20 November 2015, Claimant explained its royalty calculation in greater detail and submitted an expert opinion on the issue.
  2. Court’s reasoning
    1. General meaning of the Huawei framework and applicability to transitory cases
      As to the court’s general take on the Huawei rules cf. LG Mannheim, 29 January 2016 - 7 O 66/15 (above). Where an action for prohibitory injunction and recall of products has been brought before the ECJ handed down its ruling it has, in the opinion of the court, no negative effect on the action if Claimant fulfills its Huawei conduct obligations only after filing the lawsuit. [1] According to the extensive analysis undertaken by the court this is because, inter alia, the SEP proprietor could not be expected to comply with the – then future and unknown – conduct requirements established by Huawei but rather with the legal framework set by the German Federal Court (BGH) in Orange Book. Hence, a proprietor’s conduct that respected Orange Book but deviated from Huawei cannot be taken to signal inappropriate economic goals or lack of willingness to grant FRAND licenses. Furthermore, it seems more in line with the ECJ’s core intention of furthering successful licensing negotiations if the parties get the chance to perform their Huawei conduct obligations even though litigation is already underway.
      Where, however, the action is brought after the Huawei ruling a violation of the conduct requirements established therein bars—as a matter of substantive law, not of procedural law—Claimant from enforcing its patent-based rights to prohibitory injunction or recall of products. [2] Although Claimant’s action will then be dismissed, Claimant is free to catch up on its Huawei obligations and re-file the action if the standard user fails to comply with Huawei.
    2. Market power and notice of infringement
      Leaving open whether Claimant was market dominant, the court formulates general considerations identical to those in the decision LG Mannheim, 29 January 2016 - 7 O 66/15 (cf. above). The court doubts whether the initial contact between the patent pool “A” and Defendant’s group parent qualifies as an appropriate notice of infringement. In any case, such notice has been given by and after bringing the infringement lawsuit. Claimant’s statement of claims, in particular, contained all information necessary. Producing the original document in which Claimant made its FRAND declaration or proving that a FRAND declaration has been properly made during the standard-setting procedure is not required as long as the SEP proprietor considers itself bound by a FRAND licensing obligation. Not least because the lawsuit had been suspended for several months and some more months elapsed between the ECJ’s Huawei ruling and the oral hearings in the case at issue, there was ample time for the standard user to fulfill its Huawei duties and negotiate a license unburdened by the pressure created by an impending prohibitory injunction. [3] Even if it were justified to request—the court seems to doubt this—claim charts for a sample of patents where a worldwide portfolio license is offered, Claimant would have met this obligation, in particular because Defendant did not communicate that or why it considered the sample insufficient. It was not necessary for Claimant to impart to Defendant a documentation of the standard at issue. [4]
    3. The SEP proprietor’s licensing offer
      The court’s general considerations are identical to those in the decision LG Mannheim, 29 January 2016 - 7 O 66/15 (cf. above): The court’s general understanding of the Huawei rules of conduct (cf. above) has a considerable impact on the way it intends to react to a SEP proprietor’s licensing offer: [5] The offer must specify the relevant conditions in a way that, in order to conclude a licensing agreement, the standard implementer has merely to state his acceptance of the offer. The calculation of the license fee, in particular, must be explained in a manner that enables the standard implementer to objectively assess its FRAND conformity. Even if the standard implementer disputes the FRAND character of the offer it is not the court’s business to determine whether the licensing conditions are actually FRAND. Neither is the SEP proprietor prohibited from offering conditions slightly above the FRAND threshold. A differing view of the parties on what constitutes FRAND is to be expected and provides no reason for cartel law-based intervention. An exploitative abuse of market power can, however, be present where the proprietor, after having made a FRAND declaration, offers conditions that are, under the circumstances of the case and without objective justification, manifestly less favorable (in an economic sense) than the conditions offered to other licensees. Correspondingly, the respective court is only required to determine, based on a summary assessment, whether the proprietor’s licensing offer evidently violates the FRAND concept.
      In casu the court considered Claimant’s offer as sufficient, [6] in particular because a worldwide license, granted to the parent of a group, corresponded to recognized commercial practice in the field. It was no evident FRAND violation to calculate the royalties based on the licensing conditions of the patent pool “A” and Claimant’s share in the patents of this pool. It was further appropriate to demand a lump sum for past use of the patents to be licensed without specifying (in the licensing offer) the exact amount for lack of accessible information on the extent of the use. The information provided by Claimant on how the royalties were calculated was deemed sufficient. It was not necessary to impart to Defendant licensing contracts concluded with other market participants since “A” ’s model contracts were accessible on the Internet and no circumstances indicated unequal treatment of licensees absent objective justification such as differing turnovers.
    4. The standard implementer’s reaction
      The court’s general considerations are identical to those in the decision LG Mannheim, 29 January 2016 - 7 O 66/15 (cf. above). In casu the court considered Defendant’s counter-offer to be evidently non-FRAND, mainly because the license would have—inappropriately, given the facts of the case and recognized commercial practice—been limited to Germany. [7] Furthermore, Defendant neither rendered account nor provided security for its use of the patent in the past. The fact that Defendant has—allegedly—terminated its use of the patent does not remove these obligations for past periods of use. [8] As the court explains in some detail, [9] an overall assessment of the conduct of the parties indicates that Defendant engaged in delaying tactics while Claimant was not trying to use the infringement action for extorting excessive royalties.
  3. Other important issues
    The court underlines that a SEP proprietor has to respect the Huawei rules of conduct only with regard to an action for prohibitory injunction or the recall of products (cf. LG Mannheim, 29 January 2016 - 7 O 66/15, above). Regarding claims for rendering of accounts it mentions, but does not decide the question whether the existence of a FRAND declaration has an impact on the content of such claims. [10]
    Even if the standard-setting at issue had—due to the lack of a timely FRAND commitment by Claimant—violated Art. 101 TFEU, this would not bar Claimant from enforcing its patents within the limits set by Art. 102 TFEU and the Huawei ruling. [11]
    Neither competition law nor the general principle of good faith required Claimant to primarily address entities that produce standard-implementing components of Defendant’s products. [12] On the contrary, Claimant was free to immediately demand the taking of a license from Defendant, all the more so because Defendant was not only engaged in marketing and selling third-party devices but also devices produced by Defendant’s group of companies using the standard-implementing components.
  • [1] Case No. 7 O 96/14, para. 84-107
  • [2] Case No. 7 O 96/14, para. 81-83
  • [3] Case No. 7 O 96/14, para. 109 et seq.
  • [4] Case No. 7 O 96/14, para. 114-117
  • [5] LG Mannheim, 29 January 2016 – Case No. 7 O 66/15, para. 58
  • [6] Case No. 7 O 96/14, para. 118-129
  • [7] Case No. 7 O 96/14, para. 131-133
  • [8] Case No. 7 O 96/14, para. 134 et seq.
  • [9] Case No. 7 O 96/14, para. 136-141
  • [10] Case No. 7 O 96/14, para. 142
  • [11] Case No. 7 O 96/14, para. 144 et seq.
  • [12] Case No. 7 O 96/14, para. 146


Philips v Archos

1 7月 2016 - Case No. 7 O 209/15

  1. Facts
    Claimant, a globally operating electronics manufacturer, is the proprietor of European patents EP 1 062 743 B1 and EP 1 062 745 B1, allegedly covering part of the UMTS- and LTE-standard respectively. Defendant, being the German subsidiary of the French parent company Archos S.A., produces and markets UMTS- and LTE-based devices under the brand name “ARCHOS” in Germany.
    By letter of 5 July 2014, Claimant sent an infringement notification, including a list of the patents affected, to Defendant. Furthermore, on 15/16 September 2014, Claimant explained its licensing program to Defendant and provided for corresponding documents. After Defendant offered Claimant in a meeting on 25 November 2014 the transfer of patents which it considered essential to the UMTS- and LTE-standard respectively, Claimant sent a written licensing offer, containing a list of SEPs and patent-infringing products, to Defendant on 28 July 2015 and provided for additional technical information concerning the SEPs in-suit on 25 September 2015 via e-mail. On 12 January 2016, Defendant, in turn, submitted a written counter-offer to Claimant for a licence covering Claimant’s worldwide LTE/UMTS-patent portfolio including royalties of 0.071% of the net sales price per unit. Since the parties did not conclude a binding licensing agreement subsequently, Claimant brought an action against Defendant on 16 October 2015, received by the court on 19 October 2015. In April 2016, Defendant deposited an amount of EUR 161’343.00 at the Landesjustizkasse (federal justice treasury) Bamberg, which should cover the worldwide sales of LTE/UMTS-based devices between 2012 and 30 June 2016 and was calculated on the basis of the royalties previously offered in Defendant’s counter-offer.
  2. Court’s reasoning
    1. Market power and infringement notification
      The court left open the question of whether the SEP conveyed market power to Claimant since it did, in any case, find no abuse of such potential market power.
      Having regard to the content of the infringement notification, the Mannheim court held that, in any case, the SEP proprietor, on the one hand, has to denote the patent in-suit, which it deems essential, by reference to its patent number and to indicate, that the patent has be declared essential by the respective standardization organization. In order to specify the way in which the SEP has been infringed, the SEP proprietor’s notification must, on the other hand, clarify to which standard the patent in-suit is essential and based on which circumstances it assumes that the alleged infringer makes use of the patent’s teachings. For this purpose, the SEP proprietor must indicate which (category of the) technical functionality of the challenged embodiment makes use of the standard. The alleged infringer must be able to assess the intellectual property rights situation autonomously or by recourse to a third party.
      The level of detail to be adhered to in the infringement notification depends on the specific circumstances of the case, taking into account in particular the technology knowledge of the alleged infringer or by what means it can acquire the corresponding professional expertise in a reasonable manner. In order to substantiate the facts of the infringement in accordance with Huawei, it is deemed sufficient to refer to so-called claim charts, being customarily used in the course of licensing negotiations, comparing the asserted claim of the patent in-suit according to features with the relevant passages of the standard without fulfilling the requirements of the conclusiveness test of an infringement action. In contrast, the mere reference that the standard implementer would produce or market products implementing the standard and therefore infringe the patent in-suit is not adequate.
    2. The SEP owner’s licensing offer
      As regards the Huawei condition to submit a written offer on FRAND terms prior to the initiation of proceedings, the court requires a contractual offer that is ready to be adopted and comprises the essentialia negotii. However, in the opinion of the judges, Huawei does not oblige the infringement court to determine pursuant to objective criteria whether the licensing offer complies with FRAND terms, if the latter fact is disputed by the alleged infringer. [81] The SEP proprietor’s offer is only considered not FRAND and in violation of antitrust law, if it constitutes an expression of exploitative abuse, taking into account the specific negotiation situation and, in particular, the market conditions.
      In order to comply with the obligation to specify the way in which the royalty is to be calculated, the SEP proprietor must put the alleged infringer in a position to understand on the basis of objective criteria why the former considers its licensing offer as FRAND. For this purpose, it is, in the case of quota licence agreement, not sufficient to indicate the royalties per unit without substantiating their FRAND character. The respective amount must be made sufficiently transparent, e.g. by reference to an established standard licensing program or by indicating other reference values allowing to deduce the royalty demanded, such as a pool licence fee.
      Taking into account the summary examination of the Higher Regional court in Karlsruhe granting the SEP proprietor much leeway in determining FRAND terms See above OLG Karlsruhe, 31 May 2015 – Case No. 6 U 55/16, the Mannheim court left in the present case undecided whether it has to reassess its own standards of review, because Claimant did not sufficiently explain why royalties of USD 1.00 per unit should be FRAND in accordance with Huawei. The mere indication of the multipliers underlying the calculation of the royalties were deemed inadequate, since on the basis of this incomplete (market) information the alleged infringer is neither able to assess whether Claimant’s offer is FRAND nor to submit a FRAND counter-offer.
      The subsequent explanations as well as the expert opinion, seeking to prove the non-discriminatory character of the royalties, forming part of Claimant’s reply, did not fulfill the Huawei requirements, because prior to the initiation of proceedings Claimant has to substantiate both the manner of patent infringement and the way of calculating the royalties. Without completely dissenting from the decision previously rendered by the OLG Düsseldorf See above OLG Düsseldorf, 9 May 2016 – Case No. 15 U 36/16, the Mannheim court, by reference to the subsequent rectification order issued by the ECJ on 15 December 2015, denied the SEP proprietor’s unlimited possibility to perform its Huawei obligations within the ongoing trial without incurring sanctions, because otherwise the central idea underlying the ECJ decision of being able to negotiate without the burden of pending proceedings while having all necessary information to evaluate the FRAND conformity of the licensing offer would be diminished.
      Moreover, Claimant was not exempted from its respective Huawei obligation due to Defendant’s alleged lack of willingness to conclude a licensing agreement. In contrast, a fundamental unwillingness to enter into licensing negotiations was rejected, because Defendant, firstly, complained in letters of 20 November 2015 and 4 December 2015 about Claimant’s deficient explanation why the licensing fee should be FRAND according to Huawei; secondly, it made a counter-offer including royalties of 0.071% of the net sales price per unit and provided for an expert opinion elaborating on the FRAND character of this royalty; thirdly, it submitted an offer to transfer own patents prior to the proceedings; and lastly, even though conducted after the initiation of proceedings, Defendant deposited a considerable amount with the court, which should cover worldwide sales with its LTE/UMTS-based products.
    3. The standard implementer’s reaction
      The standard implementer is obliged to react to a licensing offer, even if it deems the later not as FRAND in accordance with Huawei See also LG Mannheim, 27 November 2015 – Case No. 2 O 106/14 and LG Düsseldorf, 3 November 2015 – Case No. 4a O 144/14, unless it is established by means of summary examination that the licensing offer is evidently not FRAND and therefore constitutes an abuse of dominance.
  3. Other important issues
    Although the Mannheim court rejected the action for prohibitory injunction and for the recall of products for reasons of antitrust law, it confirmed, on the basis of § 140b PatG and § 242 BGB, Claimant’s application for information as well as for rendering account and granted damages in accordance with § 139 (2) PatG, because it found Defendant to infringe the patents in-suit.
    Besides, the Court denied the exhaustion of the patents in-suit. [85]
  • [81] The judges stated in an even more general manner that the infringement court shall not be required under Huawei to determine the FRAND terms, if the proceedings do not involve the payment of royalties, but only relate to actions for a prohibitory injunction or for the recall of products.
  • [82] See above OLG Karlsruhe, 31 May 2015 – Case No. 6 U 55/16
  • [83] See above OLG Düsseldorf, 9 May 2016 – Case No. 15 U 36/16
  • [84] See also LG Mannheim, 27 November 2015 – Case No. 2 O 106/14 and LG Düsseldorf, 3 November 2015 – Case No. 4a O 144/14
  • [85] Para. V, p. 34 et seq.


Philips v Archos 2

17 11月 2016 - Case No. 7 O 19/16

Prof. Dr. Philipp Maume, S.J.D. (La Trobe)

  1. Facts
    The claimant is an international electronics company, which owns a range of patents relating to mobile phone technology. In particular, the claimant owns the patent EP 1.440.525, which is allegedly essential for the UMTS and LTE standards. The defendant is a German subsidiary of a French multinational electronics company that offers Android tablets and smartphones which are compliant UMTS and LTE standards. On 5 July 2014, the claimant informed the defendant in writing that by marketing and selling mobile phones, the defendant is infringing standard essential patents owned by the claimant. On 15/16 September 2014, the claimant handed over written documents about its licensing program to the defendant. In a discussion on 25 November 2014, the defendant offered to transfer patents that it deemed essential to the standards in question. In a letter dated 28 July 2015, the claimant offered to grant a license for the relevant patent. This letter included a list of all allegedly infringing products and patents in question, and relevant technical details. The claimant sent additional technical information via email on 25 September 2015. On 12 January 2016, the defendant sent a written offer to enter into a license agreement for the claimant’s worldwide patent portfolio. The parties did not reach an agreement. The claimant commenced infringement proceedings in the District Court of Mannheim on 16 October 2015 (received by the court on 19 October 2015). The defendant subsequently made a deposit at the Bavarian Justice Exchequer at Bamberg in April 2016. The deposit was supposed to cover all royalties owed for the worldwide sale of LTE/UMTS devices by the defendant between 2012 and 30 June 2016. The court dismissed the actions for injunction, recall and destruction of products because the claimant had not complied with its obligations under EU competition law. However, the court ordered the defendant to render accounts and declared that the defendant was liable for compensation.
  2. Court’s reasoning
    1. Market Power and Notice of Infringement
      TThe court did not comment on the existence of a dominant market position. It focused on the notice of infringement and the license offer. The court held that the notice of infringement should enable the alleged infringer to examine and assess the patent situation. [86] It is insufficient to indicate that the alleged infringer is marketing products covered by a standard and is therefore infringing a patent. Rather, the SEP proprietor needs to specify the patent number and the standard for which it has been declared essential. The SEP proprietor also needs to describe the technical functionality of the standard which is at issue. The level of detail of these descriptions depends on the particular situation. [86] The SEP proprietor needs to take into consideration the level of the alleged infringer’s technological knowledge, or its ability to gain the required knowledge through professional advice. In the eyes of the court, the customary claim charts (which show the relevant patent claims and the corresponding passages of the standard) will typically be sufficient. However, the description does not need to be as thorough as a statement of claim in patent litigation.
    2. The SEP owner’s licensing offer
      The court stated that the SEP proprietor’s written license offer needs to contain all relevant aspects of the contract, to enable the alleged infringer to accept the offer. [87] If the alleged infringer argues that the conditions of this offer are not FRAND – and, according to the court, alleged infringers typically do so – it is not the role of the infringement court to examine the conditions of the offer and decide whether they are FRAND or not. The Court acknowledged that the Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe had rejected this view in the decision 6 U 55/16 of 31 May 2016. [88] The Mannheim District Court, however, reiterated its view that a reduced standard of review of the offered conditions is sufficient, referring to the final opinion given by the Advocate General in the ZTE/Huawei ruling. [87] It was, the court argued, the CJEU’s intention to keep the infringement proceedings free of the determination as to what precise conditions would exactly be FRAND in each particular situation. [87] Only an offer that is clearly abusive, i.e. evidently non-FRAND, would not meet the CJEU criteria at this point. [87]
      Of course, the SEP proprietor’s mere assertion that the offer is FRAND would be insufficient. [87] Instead, the Court requires the SEP proprietor to be transparent about the calculation. That means that it needs to specify how the terms of the license offer are calculated. [89] It needs to make clear the basis of the SEP proprietor’s conclusion that the offer is FRAND. Merely stating the royalties owed per unit (in this case: USD 1,- per unit without further explanation) [90] is also insufficient. Rather, the SEP proprietor needs to find a proper way of substantiating its view as to what royalties are owed. This could be a standard license agreement entered into with third parties, or other references such as fees for a pool license that contains SEPs of the respective standard.
      The SEP proprietor needs to make these explanations before it commences infringement proceedings. [91] Only then, the alleged infringer is able to assess the situation unburdened by the treat of an ongoing court case. The Court was aware that the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf had recently (Case No. I – 15 U 36/16, 9 May 2016) expressed its view that this understanding might be overly formal. However, the Mannheim District Court upheld its opinion that only a thorough explanation by the SEP proprietor enabled the alleged infringer an informed decision as to whether the license offer is FRAND. [91]
      The Court held that, in theory, the claimant could be exempt from this transparency obligation if the defendant had been unwilling to enter into a license agreement. [92] However, in the case at issue the defendant had demonstrated its willingness to enter into a license agreement. The Court took into account four factors:
      1. the defendant’s had repeatedly requested the claimant to explain the basis of the license offer calculation, [92]
      2. the defendant had offered to transfer some of its own patents in exchange, [92]
      3. the defendant had made an offer and had commissioned an expert opinion that elaborated why the respective conditions were FRAND, [92]
      4. the defendant had deposited a substantial amount. [93]
    3. Standard Implementer’s Reaction
      The Court repeated its view expressed in the decision 2 O 106/14 of 27 November 2015. [94] Accordingly, the alleged infringer needs to respond to the SEP proprietor’s offer, even if the infringer considers that the offer does not meet the FRAND criteria. The only possible exception is an offer that, by means of summary examination, is clearly not FRAND and therefore constitutes an abuse of market power. A potential counter offer needs to be made in due course, which means as soon as possible, taking into account the recognized commercial practices in the field and good faith.
  • [86] Case No. 7 O 19/16, para 77
  • [87] Case No. 7 O 19/16, para 78
  • [88] Case No. 7 O 19/16, para 76
  • [89] Case No. 7 O 19/16, para 79
  • [90] Case No. 7 O 19/16, para 84
  • [91] Case No. 7 O 19/16, para 86
  • [92] Case No. 7 O 19/16, para 87
  • [93] Case No. 7 O 19/16, para 88
  • [94] Case No. 7 O 19/16, para 80


IP Bridge v HTC

28 9月 2018 - Case No. 7 O 165/16

A. Facts

The Claimant, IP Bridge, is a non-practising entity holding a European patent (German part) which was declared essential to the wireless telecommunications standard LTE (Standard Essential Patent or SEP) developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) [95] . The previous holder of the SEP in question had made an undertaking towards ETSI according to Article 6.1 of ETSI IPR Policy to make the patent accessible to users on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms and conditions [96] .

The Defendant is a German subsidiary of HTC, a company which manufactures and sells electronic devices worldwide, including mobile phones complying with the LTE standard [97] . The Defendant filed an action for invalidity against the Claimant’s SEP in Germany [97] .

In December 2014, the Claimant contacted the Defendant’s parent company (parent company) suggesting that the parties entered into negotiations regarding a licence for Claimant’s patent portfolio which also included the aforementioned SEP [97] . Subsequently, several licensing offers and counter-offers were made by the Claimant and the parent company respectively [97] . On 29 February 2016, the Claimant sent a letter to the parent company explaining how the LTE standard made use of the technology covered by its SEP inter alia under reference to an attached claims chart [98] . In response, the parent company confirmed that it is willing to obtain a licence, among others, by letter dated 7 September 2016 [99] . However, no licensing agreement was concluded.

On 27 September 2016, the Claimant brought an infringement action against the Defendant before the District Court of Mannheim (Court) requesting for a declaratory judgment confirming Defendant’s liability for damages arising from the use of its SEP as well as for information and rendering of accounts [100] .

On 16 February 2018, during the course of the pending proceedings against the Defendant, the Claimant made a further licensing offer to the parent company [101] . On 11 April 2018, after the parent company had signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement, the Claimant presented existing licensing agreements with third parties concerning its relevant patent portfolio (comparable agreements) to the parent company and requested the latter to respond to its last licensing offer of 16 February 2018 within one week (that is until 18 April 2018) [101] . This deadline was extended for almost three weeks until 7 May 2018 [101] .

On 15 May 2018, the Claimant extended its claims in the ongoing proceedings; in addition to its already pending claims, it sought for injunctive relief and also requested the recall and the destruction of products infringing its SEP (claims for injunction) [101] .

With the present judgment the Court ruled that the Defendant is liable for damages arising from the infringement of the SEP in suit [102] . The Court also ordered the Defendant to render accounts and to provide relevant information to the Claimant [102] . On the other hand, the Court dismissed the claim for injunctive relief and the recall and destruction of infringing products as being unenforceable for the time being [103] .

 

B. Court’s reasoning

The Court held that the products sold by the Defendant in Germany infringe Claimant’s SEP [104] . Thus, the Defendant is obliged to compensate the damages suffered by the Claimant and the previous holder of the patent in suit [102] . Since the Claimant has no knowledge of the details required for the quantification of the damages suffered, the Defendant is obliged to provide information on relevant uses (starting from the publication of the patent grant) and render accounts for such uses (starting from one month after the publication of the patent grant) [102] .

In the Court’s view, the Defendant cannot raise a defence based on a so-called “patent ambush” against these claims [105] . A “patent ambush” requires that the patent holder deliberately – in terms of a willful fraudulent misconduct – misled the participants in the standardisation process and intentionally prevented the adoption of an alternative technology into the standard [106] . Insofar, it needs to be established (by the defendant) that the disclosure of the patent during the standardisation process would have led to an alternative structure of the standard, which would have avoided making use of the teaching of the patent in suit; the mere theoretical possibility of an alternative technical solution does not suffice for supporting the allegation of a “patent ambush” [106] . The Court held that the Defendant failed to establish such fact [105] . Accordingly, the Court left the question regarding the legal consequences of a “patent ambush” open (obligation to licence royalty-free or just an obligation to offer FRAND licences?) [105] .

Furthermore, the Court stressed out that the FRAND undertaking given by the previous holder of the SEP in suit has no impact on both the scope and the enforceability of the above claims [107] .

In the Court’s eyes, the Claimant is bound to the FRAND undertaking made by the previous holder of the SEP in suit towards ETSI [108] . The wording of Article 6.1. ETSI IPR Policy establishes a respective assumption [108] . In any case, the assignee of a SEP abuses its market power, if it is aware of the FRAND-undertaking of its predecessor, but, nevertheless, refuses to fulfil the obligations arising from it [98] . The assignee of an SEP cannot draw benefits from the inclusion of its patent into a standard, without being bound to the FRAND commitment of its predecessor, since the latter enabled the inclusion of the SEP in the standard in the first place [98] . Indeed, antitrust law and particularly Article 101 of the Treaty for the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) obliges standard development organisations to make the inclusion of patented technology into a standard subject to a FRAND commitment of the patent holder, in order to secure that essential technology will be accessible to users [109] .

Having said that, the Court made clear that SEP holder’s claims for information and rendering of accounts are not limited by the FRAND undertaking [107] . Even if one would assume that such undertaking limits the SEP holder’s claims for damages to the amount of the FRAND royalty (which the Court left undecided), the patent holder would, nevertheless, be entitled, in principle, to information regarding the use of its SEP [107] .

In addition, the Court explained that a FRAND undertaking has also no influence on the enforceability of the claims for damages (on the merits), information and rendering of accounts asserted by the Claimant [107] . In particular, these claims are not subject to the conduct requirements set forth by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the matter Huawei v ZTEHuawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgement dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-130/13. (Huawei requirements or framework) with respect to dominant undertakings in terms of Article 102 TFEU [111] .

The opposite is, on the other hand, the case with respect to the claims for injunction asserted by the Claimant. These claims are not enforceable for the time being, since the Claimant failed to fully comply with the Huawei requirements [112] .

Regarding to the SEP in suit, the Court ruled that the Claimant has a dominant market position in terms of Article 102 TFEU: The patent is essential to the LTE standard, which, in turn, cannot be substituted by an alternative standard (from the users’ point of view) [113] .

Looking at the negotiations between the parties involved, the Court did not see any flaws in the parties’ conduct with respect to the first two steps of the framework; the Claimant had effectively notified the Defendant about the infringing use of its SEP and the Defendant (in fact, its parent company) had effectively declared its willingness to obtain a licence covering also the SEP in suit [98] . In this context, the Court pointed out that the SEP holder’s obligation to notify the user of the infringing use of its SEP is also met, when the respective notification is addressed to the parent company of the (alleged) infringer (as is was the case here, especially with the Claimant’s letter to the parent company dated 29 February 2016) [98] .

However, the Court held that the Claimant failed to fulfil its consequent obligation under the Huawei framework, namely to make a FRAND licensing offer to the Defendant (respectively its parent company) [114] .

The Court considered only two offers made by the Claimant to the Defendant’s parent company prior to the extension of its claims in the pending proceedings on 15 May 2018 (since the other offers made were either indisputably not FRAND or were not produced by the Claimant in trial) [99] .

An offer made in February 2016 was found not to be FRAND in terms of content, since it contained a clause, according to which the licensee was obliged to pay the full amount of the royalties agreed, even if only one patent of the licensed portfolio was valid and used by the Defendant [99] .

The Court reached the same conclusion also with respect to the further offer made by the Claimant on 11 April 2018 (that is short before the Claimant extended its claims in the proceedings, adding the claims for injunction) [115] . The Court held that this offer did not comply with the Huawei requirements, since the Defendant was not given sufficient time to assess the offer and eventually make a counter-offer to the Claimant, before the latter asserted the claims for injunction against him in the proceedings [99] .

In the Court’s eyes, a licensing offer complying with the Huawei requirements is only given, when the SEP holder provides the SEP user with all information required from assessing the FRAND conformity of the offer [116] . Only then, the SEP user’s consequent obligation under the Huawei framework to make a FRAND counter-offer to the SEP holder is triggered [116] . In particular, the SEP holder must make the requested royalty amount transparent with reference to a standard licensing programme implemented in the market or to rates actually paid by third parties to a patent pool, covering also patents relevant to the standard [116] . For the assessment of the non-discriminatory character of the offer, information on comparable agreements is needed [116] .

Based on the above considerations, the Court held that the period of 22 workdays between the presentation of the comparable agreements to the parent company (11 April 2018) and the assertion of the injunction claims in the proceedings by the Defendant (15 May 2018) was too short for a competent assessment of the Claimant’s licensing offer [117] . The fact that the Defendant (and/or its parent company) would have had sufficient time to react to the Claimant’s offer until the end of the oral hearings in mid-July 2018 was considered irrelevant by the Court in this respect [117] . The Huawei framework aims at preventing the situation, in which the SEP user agrees to unfavourable licensing conditions under the pressure of pending infringement proceedings (defined by the Court as “patent hold-up”) [117] . In case that the SEP holder has not fulfilled the Huawei requirements prior to the initiation of proceedings (as it was the case here), it has to make sure that the parties can again negotiated without the pressure of an ongoing trial, for instance by asking the court to stay its proceedings pursuant to Article 251 of the German Court of Civil Procedure [118] . Otherwise, the initiation of the infringement proceedings shall be considered as abusive in terms of antitrust law [118] . In the present case, the Claimant chose to not ask for a stay in the proceedings, ignoring the Court’s respective indication [118] .

 

C. Other issues

The Court explained that the registration in the patent register allows the registered patent holder to assert the patent rights in court [119] . On the other hand, it does not define the ownership of the patent in material legal terms [120] . Nevertheless, the patent registration establishes an assumption of ownership which must be rebutted by the defendant in infringement proceedings based on concrete indications [121] .

Besides that, the Court pointed out that a stay in the infringement proceedings (pursuant to Article 148 of the German Code of Civil Procedure) until the end of parallel invalidation proceedings concerning the patent(s) in suit can be considered only under special circumstances [122] . As a rule, it must be expected with a sufficient degree of probability that the patent(s) in suit will be invalidated [122] . The Defendant failed convince the Court that this was the case with the SEP in suit [122] .

  • [95] District Court of Mannheim, judgment dated 28 September 2018, Case-No. 7 O 165/16, page 2 and 23.
  • [96] Ibid, page 23 et seq.
  • [97] Ibid, page 5.
  • [98] Ibid, page 25.
  • [99] Ibid, page 26.
  • [100] Ibid, pages 5 et seq.
  • [101] Ibid, page 6.
  • [102] Ibid, page 19.
  • [103] Ibid,page 23.
  • [104] Ibid, pages 16 et seqq.
  • [105] Ibid, page 20.
  • [106] Ibid, page 21.
  • [107] Ibid, page 22.
  • [108] Ibid, page 24.
  • [109] Ibid, pages 24 et seq.
  • [110] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgement dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-130/13.
  • [111] District Court of Mannheim, judgment dated 28 September 2018, Case-No. 7 O 165/16, pages 22.
  • [112] Ibid,pages 23 and 25.
  • [113] Ibid, page 23.
  • [114] Ibid, pages 23 and 25 et seq.
  • [115] Ibid, pages 26 et seqq.
  • [116] Ibid, page 27.
  • [117] Ibid, page 28.
  • [118] Ibid, page 29.
  • [119] Ibid, page 10.
  • [120] Ibid, pages 10 et seq.
  • [121] Ibid, page 11.
  • [122] Ibid, page 30.


Sisvel v Wiko

4 9月 2019 - Case No. 7 O 115/16

A. 内容

原告Sisvelは、公平、合理的かつ非差別的(FRAND)な条件にて規格実施者に利用を認めるとの約束に基づき、UMTS及びLTE無線通信の規格に必須である(と見込まれる)と宣言された特許を保有している(標準必須特許又はSEP)。Sisvelは、自らのSEPを含め、複数のSEP保有者の特許で構成されるパテントプールを管理している(パテントプール)。

被告は、Wikoグループのフランスに所在する親会社及びドイツに所在する子会社(Wiko)である。Wikoは、LTE規格を実施する携帯電話を特にドイツにおいて販売している。

2015年6月、Sisvelは、パテントプールの存在及びライセンス取得が必要である旨をWikoに通知した。両当事者は、ライセンス契約の協議に入った。Sisvelは、パテントプールに含まれるSEPの情報について、その複数の特許の規格必須性を示したクレームチャートを添えてWikoに提出した。2016年6月1日、Sisvelは、当該パテントプールを対象とするライセンスについてWikoに申出を行ったが、合意には至らなかった。

2016年6月22日、Sisvelは、1つの特許がLTE規格に抵触していることに基づき、Wikoを相手方として、ドイツのマンハイム地方裁判所(本裁判所)に訴訟を提起した(権利侵害訴訟)。Sisvelは、実体的事項に関するWikoの損害賠償責任を確認する宣言的判決とともに、情報及び計算書の提出を求めた。 2016年6月23日、Sisvelは、Wikoのドイツ子会社に対して自己のSEPのみを対象とする双務的ライセンスをオファーしたが、このオファーは、承諾されなかった。さらにWikoは、SEPの無効確認を訴えて、ドイツ連邦特許裁判所に訴訟を提起した(無効確認訴訟)。

2016年10月4日、Sisvelは、侵害訴訟での訴えを変更し、差止命令による救済手段、並びに侵害性を有する製品の市場からの排除及びその後の破棄を追加的に求めた。

2016年11月11日、WikoはSisvelにカウンターオファーを申し出た。その後、Wikoは、当該カウンターオファーに従い、保証金及び情報をSisvelに提供した。

訴訟手続中に、Sisvelは、プールライセンスに関し、ロイヤルティ料率を含めた新たな申出をWikoに行った。Wikoはこれについても拒絶した。2017年12月22日、Sisvelは、並行して行われていた特許の無効確認訴訟においてドイツ連邦特許裁判所によるSEPの有効性にかかわる判断が下るまで、権利侵害訴訟手続の停止を命じるよう本裁判所に申し立てた。Wikoは、Sisvelの申立てに同意した。2018年1月30日、権利侵害訴訟手続の停止が本裁判所により命じられた。

2018年6月26日、権利侵害訴訟手続の停止中に、Sisvelは、自らが策定した、新たな内容のライセンスプログラムに基づき、あらためてWikoにライセンスオファーを申し出た(2018年オファー)。

2018年オファーと同時に、Sisvelは、―とりわけー選定した20件の特許に関するクレームチャート及び新規ライセンスプログラムと既存の2つのプログラム双方の既存のライセンシーのリストをWikoに提供した。当該リストには、各契約の締結日と合意されたライセンス料が記載されていた。しかし、ライセンシーの名は黒塗りされていた。

Wikoは3か月超にわたり2018年オファーに対応しなかった。2018年10月15日、WikoはSisvelに回答したが、2018年オファーの内容に対しては意見を述べず、2016年11月11日付のカウンターオファーを引用するにとどまった。さらにWikoは、Sisvelが2018年オファーの際に提出したリストの中で既存のライセンシーの名を開示しなかったことを批判した。

この主張に応じ、Sisvelは、2018年10月22日、Wikoに秘密保持契約(NDA)の草案を送付した。Sisvelは、WikoがNDAに署名する時点で既存のライセンシーの名を開示するつもりであった。しかしながら、Wikoは、Sisvelから提案されたNDAに署名することを拒否した。

2018年10月、ドイツ連邦特許裁判所は、係争中のSEPを部分的に認めた。爾後、本裁判所は、権利侵害訴訟手続に取り掛かり、特にFRAND関連問題について協議した。

2019年7月の口頭審理終了後、WikoはSisvelに新たなカウンターオファーを申し出、追加情報をSisvelに提供した。しかしWikoは、2016年11月11日付の初回のカウンターオファー後には、保証金額を増額しなかった。

本判決において [1] 、本裁判所は、Wikoに差止命令を下すと共に、侵害性を有する製品を市場から排除し、滅失させるよう命じた。さらに本裁判所は、実体的事項に関するWikoの損害賠償責任を確認し、損害額の算定に必要な情報をSisvelに提供するようWikoに命じた。


B. 判決理由

本裁判所は、Wikoの製品が係争中の特許を侵害していると認めた [2] 。係争中の特許の必須性は、両当事者間で争われなかった [3]

さらに本裁判所は、EU機能条約(TFEU)第102条により、Sisvelが差止命令による救済手段及び権利侵害訴訟において侵害性を有するとされる製品のリコール及び破棄を求める請求権の行使を妨げられるものではないと判示した。Wikoは現訴訟の申立てにより、SisvelがTFEU第102条に反して市場での支配的な地位を濫用していたと異議を申し立てた。

本裁判所の見解によれば、SisvelはHuawei対ZTE事件 [4] においてEU司法裁判所(CJEU)が定めた行動義務(Huaweiフレームワーク又は義務)を履行していたため、本件は支配的な地位の濫用にあたらない。これに対しWikoは、Huaweiフレームワークを遵守していなかった。

Huaweiフレームワーク

これまでの判例法から外れて、本裁判所は、権利侵害訴訟手続の過程で両当事者がHuawei義務を是正することが可能であるとの見解を示した [5] 。しかしながら、これには、CJEUにより要請される通り、両当事者間で圧力のない協議ができるようになることが必要である。このため、両当事者は、並行する無効確認訴訟において連邦特許裁判所の決定がなされるまで、審理停止の申立て [6] 又は同意を得た上での手続停止等の利用可能な手続文書を使用して、訴訟手続の一時停止を求めなければならない [7]

上記を背景に、本裁判所は、権利侵害訴訟手続開始後Huaweiフレームワークに基づき情報開示義務の是正を求めるSEP保有者に対し、審理停止を申し立てるよう求めた [7] 。当該申立てがなされた場合には、「誠実意思を有する実施者は訴訟手続停止に同意するであろう」と本裁判所は期待している [7]

本裁判所は、係争中の権利侵害訴訟手続の過程でHuawei義務の欠点を是正する機会を両当事者に与えることは、英国控訴院(Unwired Planet対Huawei) [8] とハーグ控訴裁判所(Philips対Asus) [9] の双方で採用された「セーフハーバー」方式に準じていると述べた。上記裁判所はいずれも、Huaweiフレームワークについて厳密に実施すべき強制的な正式手続とみなしておらず、したがって、CJEUにより定められた協議の枠組みから逸脱したとしても、必ずしも、特許保有者による差止命令の請求を排除する濫用的な行動にはあたらない [10] 。さらに、これに該当するかどうかは、ケースバイケースで評価する必要がある [11]

権利侵害通知

その上で本裁判所は、Sisvelが係争中のSEPの侵害について権利侵害訴訟手続開始前にWikoに通知するHuawei義務を履行していたと認めた。

SEP保有者の各通知の内容に関し、本裁判所は基本的に、従前の決定と同じ要件を適用した。本裁判所は、当該通知において (1) 係争中の特許についてその特許番号を含めて記載し、(2) 当該特許が規格に必須として関連標準化機関に宣言されていることを通知し、(3) どの規格について当該特許が必須であるのかを示し、かつ、(4) 実施者の製品又はサービスのうち当該規格を実施する技術的機能を説明しなければならないと認めた [12] 。適切とする詳細の水準については、ケースバイケースで判断する [12] 。本裁判所は、原則として、特許保有者が、SEPライセンス許諾の交渉において慣習的に用いられるクレームチャートを実施者に提供することにより、その通知義務を履行したことになる旨を確認した [12] 。本裁判所はさらに、企業グループの親会社に通知が送付された場合、通常、Huaweiフレームワークにおいて十分であることを再確認した [12]

SEP保有者の申出

本裁判所は、SisvelがまたWikoに対して書面による明確なFRAND条件でのライセンスの申出を行うHuawei義務を履行していたことも認めた。各評価に関し、本裁判所は、権利侵害訴訟手続停止中にSisvelからWikoに対してなされた最後の申出である2018年オファーのみを検討した [13]

まず、本裁判所は、どの具体的なライセンス料や追加的な契約条件がFRANDの「客観的側面に該当する」のかについて、侵害を管轄する裁判所がこれを判断する義務を負うものではないとする自らの立場を重ねて強調した [14] 。カールスルーエ高等地方裁判所(superior Higher District Court of Karlsruhe)が以前に示した見解に反し、本裁判所は、CJEUが差止命令及び製品リコールに関する訴訟手続についてFRAND条件の「正確な数量的判断(precise mathematical determination)」を「負わせる」つもりはなかったとの考えを支持した [15] 。さらに、FRANDへの該当が見込まれる条件には「幅」があるため、差止命令の要求がTFEU第102条に抵触するのは、特段の交渉状況及び市況に鑑みて、SEP保有者の申出が「搾取的な濫用」にあたるような場合に限られる [14] 。すなわち、本裁判所の認識は、英国控訴院のUnwired Planet対Huaweiと共通であった [8]

上記にかかわらず、本裁判所は、権利侵害を管轄する裁判所がSEP保有者のライセンスの申出がFRANDに適合するか否かにつき、単なる「表面的」な評価ではなく、それ以上の評価を行うべきであることを明確にした。権利侵害を管轄する裁判所は、具体的な申出の全体的な内容について、両当事者の交渉上の立場における典型的な当初の違いにかかわらず、誠実に行為する実施者に対し当該申出に応じることを要求するものであるか否かを検討しなければならない [16] 。原則として、このような義務は、SEP保有者が自らの申出がFRAND条件での申出であると判断する理由を立証する方法でロイヤルティの算定を説明する場合に生じる [17] 。プールライセンシングプログラム又は標準ライセンシングプログラムが存在する場合は、通常、各プログラムが市場で受け入れられていることを立証すれば十分である。プールごとに十分な数のライセンスが許諾されている場合、特許保有者は、当該プールに包含される特許に言及した適切な数量のクレームチャートを提示して、当該プールの構成を概説すれば良い [18]

この状況において、本裁判所は、特許保有者の申出がFRANDに適合するか否かに関し実施者が申立てをする場合、原則として、個別の契約条項の違法性(の主張)を根拠として申立を行うことができない旨を指摘した。さらに、申出がFRANDに適合しているか否かについては、包括的な契約の概要に基づき評価しなければならない [19] 。例外が適用されるのは、特定の条項が「容認できない効果(unacceptable effect)」を有する場合に限られる [19] 。本件において、本裁判所は、2018年オファーのいずれの条項にもこのような効果がないと判断した [19] 。 とりわけ、本裁判所は、ライセンシー(ここではWiko)に申し出がなされたライセンスの対象たる特許の消尽に関する立証責任を定めた条項が許容されると判断した [20] 。同様の事件におけるデュッセルドルフ地方裁判所の見解とは対照的に、本裁判所は、ライセンシーがサプライヤーを関与させることによりライセンス網を追跡しやすい立場にあることから、関連の事実を確証するようライセンシーに要請することが適切であると論じた [20]

また、本裁判所は、提示されたライセンスの期間を5年に制限する条項が反トラストの観点から「容認できない効果(unacceptable effect)」を有するとは判断しなかった。本裁判所は、その5年の期間について、急速な技術の発展を特徴とする無線通信業界において実勢的な慣行に準じたものであると判示した [21]

さらに本裁判所は、ライセンシーによる報告義務の違反や30日を超える支払遅延が生じた場合のライセンス契約の例外的な終了を求める権利を定めた条項について、上記の「容認できない効果(unacceptable effect)」がないことを指摘した [21]

本裁判所は、2018年オファーにおいて、契約期間中、対象特許の数に変更が生じた場合に合意済みロイヤルティ料率の調整について定めた条項が含まれていなかったことに異議を唱えなかった。本裁判所の見解によれば、FRAND条件でのライセンスに当該条項を含めることは求められていない [21] 。しかしながら、プールを構成する特許の多数がライセンス期間締結後間もなく満了する場合には、例外が認められるべきである [21] 。一般的に、ライセンスの申出において、契約目的の履行不能性を理由にライセンスの調整を要請する両当事者の制定法上の権利(ドイツ民事法典第313条1項)が制限又は排除されていない場合には特に、「調整」条項がなくとも問題にならない [21]

非差別性/秘密保持

FRANDライセンスの申出の非差別的要素に関して、本裁判所は、TFEU第102条においては、係争中の権利侵害訴訟手続において、被告に対する申出が同様の状況に置かれた競業者に比べて被告を差別するものでないことを証明する特許保有者の義務(二次的な)が定められているとの見解を示した [18]

上記にかかわらず、本裁判所は、いかなる事例においても上記の義務が法的に「全面的な透明性」を伴うわけではないことを明確にした [18] 。SEP保有者の反トラスト義務により、法的保護に値する被告の秘密保持上の権利が常に重視されるものではない。さらに言えば、個々の事例の特別な状況により、秘密性を保護しなければならない可能性がある [18]

本裁判所は、SEP保有者と同様の状況に置かれた第三者たるライセンシーとの間の既存のライセンス契約(類似契約)に定められた情報を特段に参照した上で、当該契約を開示する特許保有者の義務については、侵害を管轄する裁判所により、訴訟手続における両当事者の訴答を考慮した上で、ケースバイケースで判断されるべきであるとの見解を示した [18]

本裁判所によれば、特許保有者は、保護されるべき秘密保持上の権利の存在を確立しなければならない。類似契約に秘密保持条項が適用されるというだけでは、本来的には、特許保有者の開示義務の範囲を制限する根拠とはならない [22] 。これに対し被告は、特許保有者のライセンスの申出がFRANDに該当するか否かを評価するに際し、要請した情報が必要であった理由を説明しなければならない [22] 。被告は、SEP保有者の差別的と見られる行動を示し、具体的な事実を確証しなければならない [23]

この点を考慮し、本裁判所は、いかなる場合においてもSEP保有者が権利侵害訴訟手続において既存の類似契約書すべてを提出する義務を負うとのデュッセルドルフ裁判所の見解に異議を申し立てた [24] 。とりわけ、特許保有者が実施者との間で標準的なライセンス契約のみを締結している場合、当該契約の条件が公開されているのであれば、本裁判所には、訴訟手続において(膨大な)同一の契約書を提出する義務を特許保有者に負わせる理由がない。すなわち、それまでに締結した(標準的な)ライセンス契約の件数を開示すれば十分である [24]

したがって、本裁判所は、2018年オファーに際しSisvelからWikoに提出された既存ライセンシーのリストについて、ライセンシーの名が黒塗りされていたとしても、当該オファーのFRAND該否の確証に十分であったと認めた。本裁判所の見解において、Wikoは、2018年オファーのFRAND該否を評価するために既存ライセンシーの身元情報が必要であった理由を説明していなかった [25] 。さらに本裁判所は、Wikoが既存ライセンシーの身元開示を目的として訴訟手続が停止されている間、Sisvelから提示されたNDAの締結を拒絶していた事実も考慮した [26] 。2018年オファーのFRAND該否に異議がなかったため、本裁判所は、WikoによるNDAの締結の拒絶がHuaweiフレームワークを準拠する意思のないこととみなされるかどうかについて判断を下さなかった。しかしながら、本裁判所は、実施者が適切なNDAの締結を拒絶した場合は原則としてこれをSEP保有者の申出の評価に関連して検討すべきとの、この点に関しデュッセルドルフ裁判所が示した見解に同意した [26]

さらに、本裁判所は、ドイツ民事訴訟手続法(Zivilprozessordnung, ZPO)第142条に従い管轄裁判所により発せられた文書提出命令を通じ、権利侵害訴訟手続において類似契約の使用を促す可能性についても検討した [23] 。このオプションは、特に、類似契約に定められた秘密保持条項により、裁判所命令が発せられた場合に限り契約の開示が認められる個別の事例において侵害を管轄する裁判所により検討される。本裁判所によれば、当該秘密保持条項は、それ自体では反トラスト法に反するものでないことから、特許保有者が訴訟手続において保護に値する秘密保持上の利益を確証できない場合を除き、尊重されるべきである [23] 。特許保有者が、秘密保持条項の拘束を受け、審理に際し類似契約書を提出する意思がある場合には、侵害を管轄する裁判所は、各案件の具体的な状況に基づき、ZPO第142条に従い文書提出命令を発する [23] 。特許保有者が当該命令に従わない場合、当該裁判所は、Huaweiフレームワークにおける両当事者の行為を全体的に評価する上で、その行動を不誠実さの顕れであると判断する場合がある [23] 。ZPO第142条に従い発せられた裁判所命令に基づき類似契約書の閲覧が認められた後、実施者が訴訟手続停止に同意しない場合も、同様に適用される [23]

実施者のカウンターオファー

本裁判所は、WikoがSisvelに対し、正当な過程でFRAND条件の対案(カウンターオファー)を行うHuawei義務を履行していなかったと認めた。各評価に関し、本裁判所は、2018年オファーに対するWikoの対応に注目した [27]

本裁判所は、申出がFRANDに該当するとみなしているか否かにかかわらず(通常はあてはまる)、実施者が具体的な事実に基づき、SEP保有者のライセンスオファーに対応する義務を負っていると明言した [23] 。さらに、実施者は、各事例の事実、特定分野での業界慣行及び誠実な原則を検討の上、可能な限り早急に対応しなければならない [7]

Wikoが3か月を超える期間、2018年オファーに一切対応しなかったことに鑑み、本裁判所は、Wikoが上記の義務に違反すると判示した [3] 。本裁判所の見解では、Wikoは時間の引き延ばし戦術をとったとされる [3] 。本裁判所は、フランスの休校期間や、(Wikoの陳述によれば)ライセンス関連業務を担当した従業員がわずか2名であったという事実が、Wikoによる対応の遅延の十分な根拠になるとは認めなかった [27] 。国際的な業務に携わる会社として、Wikoは、今後、各問題に対処できるよう十分な人材を確保すべきである [27]


C. その他の重要事項

差止命令並びに侵害性を有する製品の市場からの排除及び破棄を求めたSisvelの請求とは別に、本裁判所は、実体的事項に関するWikoの損害賠償責任を認め、宣言的判決を下した [28]

本裁判所は、Wikoが係争中の特許を著しく侵害したと判断した。とりわけ、Wikoは、少なくとも過失的行為をなした [28] 。Wikoは、極めて複雑な標準化技術(特に、規格に組み込まれる膨大な数の特許)が極めて複雑であるため、知的財産権に関する状況を評価することが困難になった(よって、過失を除外すべき)と主張した。しかしながら本裁判所は、基盤となる技術がより一層複雑になったために、実施者側に対するデューディリジェンス要件がさらに拡大したことを明言した [29]

  • [1] Sisvel対Wiko、マンハイム地方裁判所2019年9月4日、事件番号7 O 115/16。
  • [2] 同判決、17~31頁。
  • [3] 同判決、46頁。
  • [4] Huawei対ZTE、EU司法裁判所2015年7月16日判決、事件番号C-170/13。
  • [5] Sisvel対Wiko、マンハイム地方裁判所2019年9月4日、事件番号7 O 115/16、42頁。
  • [6] 同判決、43頁及び51頁以下。
  • [7] 同判決、42頁。
  • [8] Unwired Planet対Huawei、英国控訴院2018年10月23日判決、[2018] EWCA Civ 2344、第282節。
  • [9] Philips対Asus、ハーグ控訴裁判所2019年5月7日、事件番号200.221 .250/01。
  • [10] Sisvel対Wiko、マンハイム地方裁判所2019年9月4日、事件番号7 O 115/16、44頁。
  • [11] 同判決、44頁。
  • [12] 同判決、37頁。
  • [13] 同判決、47頁及び53頁。
  • [14] 同判決、38頁。
  • [15] 同判決、37頁。以下。
  • [16] Sisvel対Wiko、マンハイム地方裁判所2019年9月4日、事件番号7 O 115/16、39頁。
  • [17] 同判決、39頁。
  • [18] 同判決、40頁。
  • [19] 同判決、53頁。
  • [20] 同判決、54頁。
  • [21] 同判決、55頁。
  • [22] 同判決、40頁及び49頁。
  • [23] 同判決、41頁。
  • [24] 同判決、49頁。
  • [25] 同判決、50頁。
  • [26] 同判決、51頁。
  • [27] 同判決、47頁。
  • [28] 同判決、35頁。
  • [29] 同判決、35頁以下。


Nokia対Daimler、マンハイム地方裁判所

18 8月 2020 - Case No. 2 O 34/19

A. 内容

原告は、フィンランドに本社を置くNokiaグループに属している(「Nokia」)。Nokiaは、大手通信事業者であり、欧州電気通信標準化機構(「ETSI」)が開発した各種無線通信規格の実施に不可欠(と見込まれる)と宣言されている、重要な特許ポートフォリオ(標準必須特許又はSEP)を保有している。

被告Daimlerは、世界的に有名なドイツの車メーカーである。Daimlerは、ETSIが開発した規格を実装する接続機能を備えた車をドイツで製造し、販売している。

Nokiaは、本件にかかわる特許が4G/LTE規格にとって不可欠であるとETSIに向けて宣言した。ETSIは、規格の実施に不可欠であるか、不可欠となる可能性のある特許の特許権者に対し、ユーザーが公平、合理的、かつ非差別的(FRAND)な条件にてこれを利用できるよう確約することを要求している。

2016年6月21日、Nokiaは、ETSIに不可欠(と見込まれる)と宣言した特許及び特許出願を網羅したリストを提出して自社のSEPポートフォリオをDaimlerに知らせた。これに対しDaimlerは、自社製品が実際にNokiaの特許を侵害しているとの条件でライセンスを取得できると回答した。

2016年11月9日、Nokiaは、Daimlerに1回目のライセンスの申し出を行った。2016年12月7日、Nokiaは、自社の特許ポートフォリオに関する詳細情報をDaimlerに提供した。2016年12月14日、Daimlerは、Daimlerの車に組み込まれている、いわゆる「テレマティクス制御ユニット」(TCU)を製造するサプライヤーへライセンスを付与する方が効率的と思われる旨回答した。2017年1月から2019年2月まで、Daimlerは、Nokiaとの交渉の場に再度就くことはなく、NokiaがDaimlerのサプライヤーと行った協議にも参加しなかった。

2019年2月27日、Nokiaは、Daimlerに対し二度目となるライセンスの申し出を行い、これに際し、自社特許と対象たる規格関連部分との対応関係を図示したクレームチャートを添付した。2019年3月19日、Daimlerは、Nokiaのポートフォリオに関するロイヤルティについて、基本的に、Daimlerが製造した車の台数ではなく、そのサプライヤーからDaimlerに提供されたコンポーネント数を基準として計算すべきであるとして、再度この申込みを拒絶した。

爾後Nokiaは、Daimlerに対し、ドイツのミュンヘン、デュッセルドルフ及びマンハイのム地方裁判所に複数の権利侵害訴訟を申し立てた。

2019年5月9日、権利侵害訴訟開始後間もなく、Daimlerは、Nokiaにカウンターオファーを行った。Nokiaのポートフォリオにかかわるそのロイヤルティの算定根拠は、Daimlerがサプライヤーに支払ったTCUの平均販売価格であった。Nokiaはこのカウンターオファーを拒絶した。

2020年6月10日、Daimlerは、Nokiaに2度目のカウンターオファーを行った。Nokiaは、(ドイツ民法典第315条に従い)ライセンス料を一方的に決定することができたが、Daimlerは、その決定されたライセンス料について裁判で争う権利を有していた。その2度目のカウンターオファーも拒絶された。

2020年6月18日、ドイツ連邦カルテル庁(「カルテル庁」)がマンハイム地方裁判所(「本裁判所」)での本件訴訟に介入し、FRAND宣言の性質に関する問題を本裁判所から欧州司法裁判所(CJEU)に照会するよう勧告した。本裁判所は、カルテル庁の勧告に従わなかった。

現行の判決で [1] 、本裁判所は、Daimlerに差止命令を下すとともに、本案に関するDaimlerの損害賠償責任を認めた。さらに本裁判所は、Nokiaへの損害賠償金の算定に必要な会計帳簿及び情報を提出するようDaimlerに命じた。

 

B. 判決理由

本裁判所は、係争中の特許をDaimlerが侵害したと認定した [2] 。これにより、Nokiaには差止命令等による救済手段が与えられた [3]

Daimler及び当該訴訟に参加したそのサプライヤーは、Nokiaが権利侵害訴訟の申立てにより市場支配的地位を濫用しており、これがEU機能条約第102条に違反していることから、差止命令が却下されるべきとして、いわゆる「FRAND宣言を理由とする抗弁」を主張した。とりわけ、Huawei v ZTE [4] (「Huawei裁定」又は「Huaweiフレームワーク」)事件でCJEUが定めた行動要件をNokiaが遵守していないと論じられた。

本裁判所は、Daimler及びそのサプライヤーのFRAND宣言を理由とする抗弁を理由がないとして棄却した [5]

 

Huaweiフレームワーク

本裁判所は、SEP保有者が特許に起因して生じる独占権の行使を本来的に妨げられないことを名言した [6] 。実際のところ、特許が規格に必須であっても、その特許権者に技術利用を許容する義務を負わせることにならない。但し、市場支配的地位を獲得した結果、そのような利用を認めていたか、その利用を認める義務を課されていた場合は、この限りでない [6]

特許権者がHuaweiフレームワークに基づく義務を履行しているのであれば、特許権の行使による市場支配的地位の濫用が生じることはない [7] 。但し上記の義務は、権利者の許諾なしに保護対象技術を既に利用している実施者がFRAND条件でのライセンス取得の意思を有していることを前提とする [8] 。本裁判所は、特許権者から規格利用者に対しライセンスを「押しつける」よう要請することはできないのであるから、ライセンス契約締結を要請する法的請求権については尚更有していないと説示した [8] 。その上、支配的地位に付される「特段の責任」により、SEP保有者は、原則としてライセンス取得の意思を有するライセンシーに契約締結を促すよう「十分な努力」を払う義務を負う [9]

 

権利侵害通知

本裁判所によれば、上記の「努力」には、その実施者に特許侵害について通知するだけでなく、権利侵害訴訟申立て前におけるライセンス取得の可能性および必要性を通知する義務が含まれる [10] 。具体的な事例を参照した結果、本裁判所は、Nokiaが当該義務を履行したと認めた [11]

内容について言えば、上記の権利侵害通知には、被侵害特許の明示並びに侵害性を有する使用法及び訴えの対象たる実施形態を記載しなければならない [10] 。権利侵害について技術的・法的観点から詳細に分析する必要はない。実施者の立場としては、結局は専門家又は弁護士の助言に依拠してその権利侵害の主張を評価するしかない [10] 。通例、クレームチャートが提示されれば十分である(但し、必須ではない) [10] 。さらに本裁判所は、特許権者がその特許を侵害している最終製品メーカーのサプライヤーそれぞれに対し、別個に権利侵害を通知する義務を負わないことを指摘した [12]

本裁判所の見地から、2016年6月21日、2016年11月9日及び2016年12月7日付のNokiaのEメールは、上記要件を満たしている [13] 。実際のところNokiaは、-少なくとも当初は-付託される係争中の特許に該当する標準規格書の具体的部分を示していなかったことは、害にはならない。これは、権利侵害の最終的な評価を行うに際し権利侵害通知が求められていなかったためである [14]

さらに本裁判所は、Nokiaが権利侵害通知において、関連規格によって接続機能を生み出す具体的なコンポーネント(Daimlerの車に組み込まれたTCU等)を特定する必要はないと判断した [15] 。Daimlerは当該コンポーネントを購入した上で自社製品に使用したのだから、情報不足は何ら生じるはずがなかった [15]

 

誠実意思

さらに本裁判所は、DaimlerがNokiaとのFRANDライセンス契約締結の意思を十分に明示ていないことから、差止命令を回避するためにFRAND宣言を理由とする抗弁に依拠できないと認定した [16]

本裁判所の見地から、実施者は、「どのような条件が実際にFRANDにあたるのかにかかわらず」SEP保有者とのライセンス契約を締結する意思について、「明確に」かつ「疑義の生じないよう」宣言した上で、爾後「目的志向」の意図にてライセンス供与の協議に従事しなければならなかった(Sisvel v Haier(連邦司法裁判所, 2020年5月5日, Case No. KZR 36/17)、及びUnwired Planet v Huawei(英国及びウェールズ高等法院、2017年4月5日, Case No. [2017] EWHC 711(Pat)の判決) [17] 。ライセンス供与の協議における実施者の「目的志向」は、決定的な重要性を有する。実施者は概して、ライセンス供与の協議が開始される前の時点で特許取得済の標準化技術を既に使用していることから、その特許の有効期間満了までライセンス契約締結を遅延させることに利得を有するが、これはHuawei裁定の趣旨に反する [18] 。よって、権利侵害の通知に対して、ライセンス契約締結を検討する意思を示したり、ライセンス取得の是非及びその条件についての協議に入る意思を示したりするだけでは不十分である [17]

本裁判所はさらに、一定条件下での誠実意思の宣言が許容されないと指摘した [17] 。さらに特許権者へのカウンターオファー内容変更協議の拒絶も、実施側の誠実意思欠如を示すものとみなされうる [17]

上記に基づき、本裁判所は、Daimlerが当初、製品がNokiaの特許を実際に侵害すればライセンス契約を締結すると示したことでは、DaimlerがFRANDライセンス契約を締結する意思を適切に示さなかったとの見解を示した [19] 。本裁判所は、Daimlerのカウンターオファーは契約締結にかかわる意思を十分に示したものになりえず、特に2度目のカウンターオファーについては、Nokiaが片務的に設定できたはずのロイヤルティ料率に異議を唱える権利をDaimlerに求めただけで、ライセンス料の決定に関する両当事者間の紛争を爾後の訴訟に持ち越しただけに過ぎないと付け加えた [20]

本裁判所はさらに、DaimlerがNokiaとの協議に関与しなかったにもかかわらず、自らのサプライヤーにNokiaから直接ライセンスを付与するよう強く主張したことから、Daimlerが「誠実意思を有する」ライセンシーとして行為していなかったと判示した [21] 。さらに、Daimlerの誠実意思の欠落は、NokiaのSEPポートフォリオに対するライセンス料の算定基準として、Daimlerがサプライヤーから購入したTCUの平均価格を適用するよう主張したことからも確認された [22]

 

FRAND料金の算定

本裁判所は、NokiaのSEPポートフォリオに対するロイヤルティ料率の算定に、TCUを「参考値」として使用することは適正でなかったと認定した [23]

一般に、FRAND条件は単一ではなく、FRANDのライセンス供与条件及び料金には幅が設定されるのが通例である [24] 。また、何がFRANDとみなされるかは、業界及び時期によって異なる場合がある [24]

しかしながら、本裁判所は、原則として「バリューチェーンの最終段階で商品として通用する最終製品にかかる技術の経済上の利益」を特許権者に「配分」しなければならないと指摘した [25] 。どの理由は、保護された発明を使用する最終製品で「経済上の利益」を獲得する「機会が創出する」、ためである [25] 。裁判所は、最終製品における特許技術の価値を斟酌して、SEP保有者がバリューチェーンの別の段階でなされるイノベーションから利益を得ているとの考えを認めなかった [26] 。裁判所は、これが生じないと確認するために入手可能な証拠文書が複数存在することを示した [26]

したがって、本裁判所は、いわゆる「最小販売可能特許実施単位(SSPPU)」、すなわち、製品に組み入れられる最小技術単位をFRANDロイヤルティ料率の算定根拠とする考えを否定した [26] 。特許消尽の影響により、SEP保有者は、バリューチェーン最終段階で創出される価値に関与することを妨げられる [26] 。これとは別に、この選択肢は、バリューチェーンの複数の段階において同一特許のライセンスが付与される「二重取り」の特定と回避をより複雑にするおそれがある [26] 。 それでもなお本裁判所は、上記の原則について、必ずしも専ら最終製品製造会社とライセンス契約締結を意味するものでないと明言した [27] 。本裁判所は、販売可能な最終製品の特許技術の価値がサプライチェーンの別の段階で計算に組み込まれる可能性が大いにあるとみなした [27]

この背景に照らし、本裁判所は、TCUの販売価格では、本事件の最終製品にあたるDaimler製造車に対するNokiaのSEPの価値が十分に反映されていないと認定した [28] 。TCUの販売価格が相応するのはDaimlerのそれぞれのコストのみである [29] 。むしろDaimlerは、接続機能により、顧客に追加サービスを提示してこれによる収入を得て、コストを節減し、研究開発費を最適化した [30] 。接続機能はこの価値創出の機会を保証するものである [31] 。さらに、本裁判所は、Daimlerの複数の主要競合会社が(専ら車製造会社にライセンスを付与する)Avanciプラットフォームのライセンシングモデルを承諾したことにより、最終製品向けの保護された技術の価値に焦点があてられることは、自動車業界にとっても合理的と認定した [32]

 

非差別性

さらに本裁判所は、NokiaのDaimlerに対する特許請求の申立ては差別的なものではなく、よってサプライヤーがライセンスを取得するべきとのDaimlerの主張が正当化されるものでないことを認めた [33]

裁判所は、特許権利者が基本的に、サプライヤーンの中で権利を主張する段階を自由に選択できることを説示した [34] 。競争関連法においてこの可能性は本来的に制限されていないため、市場支配的地位を有する特許権者も同様である [34] 。その上、支配的地位を有する特許権利者は、すべての見込ライセンシーに「標準料率」を申出する義務を負うものでない [34] 。TFEU第102条に定められた非差別性に関わる義務は、上流市場又は下流市場での競争の歪みを回避するためであるが、正当な根拠が十分に存在する場合にライセンシーの様々な取扱いを排除するものではない [35]

本件において、本裁判所は、ロイヤルティベースとして最終製品を使用すべきであるとのNokiaの請求が競争に影響を及ぼさないと判断した [36] 。特に、自動車業界では車メーカーに販売されるコンポーネントのライセンスをサプライヤーが取得することが一般的であるとの事実は、Nokiaに慣行の変更を求めるものでない。これは特に、AvanciプラットフォームからDaimlerの競合会社へのライセンス供与は、通信業界において実勢的なその慣行が自動車業界でも既に適用されていることを証しているためである [37] 。さらに本裁判所は、最終製品メーカーにSEPを主張することにより生産、販売及び技術発展の制限がもたらされ、これにより消費者が不利益を被るとはみなさなかった [38] 。この点に関し、本裁判所は、ETSI IPRポリシーに拠ればFRANDライセンスに含められるべきであり、かつ、コンポーネントメーカーに製品の製造、販売及び開発を認めるいわゆる「下請製造権」に言及した [39]

 

SEP保有者の申出/情報提供義務

さらに、本裁判所は、Nokiaがライセンスの申出に関し十分な情報を提供することを拒絶した旨をDaimlerが主張しても、Daimlerのライセンス取得する意思のないことを正当化できないと判示した [40]

本裁判所は、SEP保有者がライセンス要請のFRAND適合性を具体化する義務を負う可能性を指摘した [41] 。特許権利者は、第三者との間で非標準的な条件に基づき既に契約を締結している場合、一般的には、別の契約条件の申出を受けているかどうか実施者が評価できるようにするため、-少なくとも-重要な契約条項の内容を開示し、提示する義務を負う [41] 。各々の義務の範囲および詳細なレベルは、ケースバイケースで判断される [41]

上記に鑑みて、本裁判所は、車両の接続機能の価値に関する調査や他の主要車メーカーとの署名済みライセンス締結等を共有することにより、NokiaがDaimlerに十分な情報を提供していたとの見解を示した [42] 。この状況において、本裁判所は、NokiaがDaimlerに対し、スマートフォンメーカーとのライセンス契約を開示する義務を負っていなかったと示した。本裁判所は、SEP保有者の情報開示義務が、従前に署名されているあらゆるライセンス契約の全文に及んで適用されるとの意見や、SEP保有者がすべての既存契約を開示する義務を負うとの意見を拒絶した [43] 。さらに本裁判所は、通信業界でのライセンス契約は自動車業界でのライセンスのFRAND適合性評価とは無関係であると判示した [43]

 

サプライヤーによるFRAND宣言を理由とする抗弁

上記とは別に、本裁判所は、訴訟に参加したサプライヤーが提起したFRAND宣言を理由とする抗弁がDaimlerに利益をもたらさないことを強調した [44]

本裁判所は、訴えられている最終製品メーカーがそのサプライヤーにより提起されるFRAND抗弁に、原則として依拠できるかどうかについて結論を出さなかった。本裁判所によれば、これについてはいかなる場合であれ、サプライヤーが(製造するコンポーネントでなく)最終製品に対する対象特許の価値を根拠として特許権利者からライセンスを取得する意思を有している必要がある [45] 。本訴訟はこのような状況でなかった [46]

本裁判所は、サプライヤーがSEP保有者に支払ったロイヤルティをその顧客に転嫁することが難しいことを無視したわけではない [47] 。しかしながら、第三者との契約上の取決め(ここでは、サプライヤーと最終製品メーカーとの契約)は、裁判所の見地から、最終製品にかかわる特許技術により創出される価値への配分を認めないライセンス契約にSEP保有者に指示するものであってはならない [47]

 

C. その他の問題点

最終的に本裁判所は、-カルテル庁の勧告に反し-、訴訟手続を停止し、かつ、SEP保有者のFRAND宣言により、バリューチェーンに含まれるあらゆる者に双務的なライセンスが付与される直接的な請求(license-to-allの考え方)または標準化技術へのアクセスへの請求(access-to-allの考え方)が確立されるのかをめぐる問題をCJEUに照会する必要はないと判断した。

本裁判所は、Daimlerもそのサプライヤーも、Daimlerが製造した車に関する特許技術の価値に基づきFRAND条件でNokiaからライセンスを取得する意思を有していなかったため、これについて結論を出さなかった [48] 。さらに本裁判所は、係争中の特許の有効期限が今後数年で満了するとの事実に基づき、訴訟手続の停止命令に反対すると述べた [49]

  • [1] Nokia v Daimler(マンハイム地方裁判所, 2020年8月18日判決, 事件番号 2 O 34/19(www.juris.deから引用))
  • [2] 同判決、第49節乃至第136節。
  • [3] 同判決、第138節。
  • [4] Huawei v ZTE(欧州司法裁判所, 2016年7月16日判決、事件番号 C-170/13)
  • [5] Nokia v Daimler(マンハイム地方裁判所、2020年8月18日判決、事件番号 2 O 34/19, 第144節)
  • [6] 同判決、第146節。
  • [7] 同判決、第147節。
  • [8] 同判決、第148節。
  • [9] 同判決、第149節。
  • [10] 同判決、第152節。
  • [11] 同判決、第151乃至第156節。
  • [12] 同判決、第248節。
  • [13] 同判決、第153節以降。
  • [14] 同判決、第154節。
  • [15] 同判決、第155節。
  • [16] 同判決、第157乃至第231節。
  • [17] 同判決、第158節。
  • [18] 同判決、第159節。
  • [19] 同判決、第161節。
  • [20] 同判決、第197乃至第199節。
  • [21] 同判決、第157節、第160節及び第162節乃至第164節。
  • [22] 同判決、第160及び第165節乃至第168節。
  • [23] 同判決、第169節。
  • [24] 同判決、第170節。
  • [25] 同判決、第171節。
  • [26] 同判決、第172節。
  • [27] 同判決、第173節。
  • [28] 同判決、第174節以降。
  • [29] 同判決、第174節。
  • [30] 同判決、第177節。
  • [31] 同判決、第180節。
  • [32] 同判決、第187節以降。
  • [33] 同判決、第201節乃至第212節。
  • [34] 同判決、第202節。
  • [35] 同判決、第203節。
  • [36] 同判決、第205節。
  • [37] 同判決、第210節。
  • [38] 同判決、第213節。
  • [39] 同判決、第215節。
  • [40] 同判決、第216節以降。
  • [41] 同判決、第217節。
  • [42] 同判決、第218節。
  • [43] 同判決、第230節。
  • [44] 同判決、第232節以降。
  • [45] 同判決、第234及び第236節以降。
  • [46] 同判決、第240節以降。
  • [47] 同判決、第239節。
  • [48] 同判決、第253及び第291節。
  • [49] 同判決、第291節。


LG v TCL

2 3月 2021 - Case No. 2 O 131/19

A. Facts

LG is a global electronics company headquartered in South Korea, holding a portfolio of patents declared as (potentially) essential to the practice of wireless telecommunications standards (standard essential patents, or SEPs), including 4G/LTE developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). ETSI requires from patent holders to commit to make SEPs accessible to users on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms and conditions.

TCL is a Chinese manufacturer of electronic devices which imports and sells – among other things – mobile phones complying with 4G/LTE in Germany.

In March 2016, LG sent a letter to the parent company of the TCL group with information about its SEP portfolio. Until August 2018, LG sent in total seven similar letters to different companies within the TCL group. TCL did not react to these letters. In March 2018, LG also shared a licensing offer with TCL, which provided for running royalty payments. Again, TCL did not respond.

In November 2019, LG filed an infringement action against TCL before the District Court of Mannheim (Court). In January 2020, after the suit was filed, TCL contacted LG for the first time. In the following, the parties negotiated a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), which was signed only in May 2020. Apart from that, several meetings and communications took place, in which LG provided information about its SEP portfolio as well as about existing licensing agreements to TCL. On the other hand, TCL shared information about past sales volumes. In June 2020, TCL brought up a licensing agreement between LG and Qualcomm that had expired in December 2018 (Qualcomm licence) in the negotiations. Qualcomm supplied TCL with chipsets. TCL argued that with respect to chipsets supplied by Qualcomm and covered by the Qualcomm licence LG's patent rights were exhausted.

In July 2020, LG made a modified licensing offer to TCL that provided for a lump sum payment (instead of the running royalty payments initially offered). TCL did not accept this offer.

In November 2020, TCL made a counteroffer to LG. The counteroffer was based on a running royalty regime. With a view to the Qualcomm licence, TCL requested to include a clause in the agreement, which would allow TCL to exclude phones with chipsets acquired by suppliers already licenced by LG from the royalty calculation.

Shortly afterwards, LG made another offer to TCL that corresponded to a large extent to TCL's counteroffer. LG proposed certain amendments with respect to the royalty calculation (e.g. the addition of caps and floors) and also removed the aforementioned clause, which would have allowed TCL to exclude a number of devices sold from royalty payments.

In December 2020, TCL indicated that it would prefer a lump sum payment. Subsequently, LG made minor modifications to its previous offer. However, the parties did not reach agreement.

In January 2021, TCL placed a security payment covering sales in Germany since 2016 (including devices with Qualcomm chipsets) and rendered accounts for past sales as well.

With the present judgment [1] , the Court found in favour of LG and -among other claims- granted an injunction against TCL.
 

B. Court's reasoning

The Court found that the patent in suit is valid and infringed. [2]

The Court further held that the claim for injunctive relief asserted by LG was enforceable. [3] LG had met the obligation to adequately notify TCL about the infringement of its SEPs prior to filing the present action and had also provided TCL with a FRAND-compliant offer. [4] On the contrary, TCL had failed to adequately express willingness to obtain a FRAND licence from LG. [5]
 

Notification of infringement

The Court took the view that by the first letter dated March 2016 (or, ultimately, by the licensing offer presented in March 2018), LG had sufficiently notified TCL about the infringement of the SEP in suit prior to initiating court proceedings. [6]

The fact that the letter of March 2016 was addressed to the parent company of the TCL group (and not the individual affiliates sued in the present proceedings) was not harmful [7] . According to the Court, addressing such type of letter to the parent company corresponds to the common practice in FRAND negotiations. [7]

Furthermore, the Court did not express concerns against the fact that the letter dated March 2016 did not indicate the number of the patent in suit, but instead contained only the underlying patent application number. [8] The Court noted that by making a search in the respective database of the European Patent Office, TCL could have been able to identify that the patent in suit had been granted and published. [8] Considering this, the Court highlighted that SEP holders are under no obligation to regularly update lists displaying the individual patents included in their portfolio. [8]
 

Willingness

According to the Court, TCL failed to sufficiently express willingness to obtain a FRAND licence. [9] An implementer is required to declare 'clearly and unambiguously' as well as 'seriously and unconditionally' that it is willing to conclude a licence agreement with the SEP holder on FRAND terms and, subsequently, engage in negotiations in a 'target-oriented' manner. [10] By contrast, it is not sufficient in response to the 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. [10]

For the assessment of willingness, all circumstances should be taken into account, especially the behaviour of the implementer. [11] In particular, courts must examine whether the implementer's conduct 'reasonably promotes negotiations.' [12]

In the Court's eyes, timing in negotiations is an important factor: The implementer is regularly required to react in due course; did it refrain from expressing interest in a FRAND licence over a longer period of time, then the implementer must make 'additional efforts'. [13] In exceptional cases, a 'reluctant involvement' of the implementer in negotiations could be justified, for instance when the SEP holder itself does not engage in a target-oriented manner in the discussion (e.g. by not sharing information about its licensing practice). [14] In case that the SEP holder has made a licensing offer, the implementer should raise any concerns swiftly and not hold back potential objections for use in subsequent court proceedings. [12]

Furthermore, the implementer's counteroffer shall also be considered in the assessment of willingness. According to the Court, an implementer who – after having received a licensing offer as well as sufficient information from the SEP holder – makes a non-FRAND counteroffer indicates, as a rule, that it has no intention to reach a FRAND solution. [12] The same can apply, when the implementer insists on its counteroffer and refuses any improvements. [12]

Against this backdrop, the Court found that, in overall terms, TCL did not adequately promote the negotiations with LG. [15] The Court noted that TCL made no efforts to clarify whether, respectively to what extent the Qualcomm licence led to a (partial) exhaustion of LG's patent rights [16] . The Qualcomm licence was mentioned by TCL for the first time in June 2020 (approx. 4 years after the first contact in March 2016) and was brought up again only during the pending trial in November 2020. TCL then rejected several offers of LG to elaborate further on this issue. In the view of the Court, TCL should have tried to address this issue much earlier and in a more transparent way, particularly since the wording of the Qualcomm agreement hardly supports TCL's exhaustion argument.Ibid, para. 147. The Court found that the Qualcomm licence did not lead to the exhaustion of LG's patent rights in the present case, see paras. 95-104.

The Court also saw an indication of delaying tactics in the fact that TCL had changed opinions (especially with respect to the preferred royalty regime) in several occasions, without having processed information shared by LG on the merits. [18] A further indication of delaying tactics was the fact that TCL, as a rule, aligned its behaviour in the negotiations with developments in the pending infringement trial (e.g. TCL contacted LG for the first time only after the action was served and made its counteroffer shortly before an oral hearing in the proceedings). [19] The Court noted as well that it took TCL almost four months to sign the NDA with LG, although it should have undertaken additional efforts to promote negotiations, given that at that point in time TCL had already delayed the beginning of the negotiations with LG for several years. [20]

In addition, the Court considered the fact that TCL had made a non-FRAND counteroffer to LG as a further indication that TCL had not sufficiently engaged in the licensing negotiations. [21] According to the Court, TCL's counteroffer was not FRAND, because the 'commercially significant' question whether the Qualcomm licence caused a (partial) exhaustion of LG's patent rights was left aside to be addressed in subsequent negotiations or court proceedings between the parties. [22]

The Court highlighted that FRAND is, in principle, a range; FRAND can differ from sector to sector and over time and shall be determined based on the individual circumstances of each case in good faith bilateral negotiations between the parties. [23]

In the view of the Court, a counteroffer that leaves a controversial question with 'significant impact' on the amount of the royalties payable unanswered is, regularly, not appropriate. [24] By signing a licensing agreement on that basis, the implementer would legitimize the use of the patents (and, consequently, no longer face the risk of an injunction), while, at the same time, preserve the right to withhold part of the royalty payments until the disputed question has been answered in future negotiations or court proceedings. [24] Such a counteroffer would resemble an offer pursuant to Section 315 of the German Civil Code, which – according to the Court – is also not sufficient for establishing implementer's willingness to enter into a FRAND licence. [25] Insofar, the Court pointed out that in Huawei v ZTE [26] the Court of Justice of the EU required from the implementer to make a 'specific counteroffer', which implies that the royalties must either be defined in the counteroffer itself or can be determined in due course. [27]

In the present case, TCL had preserved the right to exclude mobile phones with Qualcomm chipsets sold until the expiration of the Qualcomm licence from the calculation of the release payment covering past sales. From LG's perspective, this left the key question open whether TCL was prepared to pay royalties calculated under consideration of the respective mobile phones or not. This question was significant, since – according to the Court – the exclusion of mobile phones with Qualcomm chipsets could lead to a significant reduction of the amount of the release payment, given that such handsets accounted for a substantial share of the overall TCL sales. [28]
 

SEP holder's offer

The Court further found that LG could not be held responsible for TCL's missing willingness to obtain a FRAND licence; on the contrary, LG had met all its conduct obligations. [29] In particular, the Court pointed out that LG had made several FRAND-compliant licensing offers to TCL and had also been prepared to adapt its offers for the benefit of TCL. [29]

The Court held that the royalties suggested by LG (especially in its final offer) led to a total royalty burden within the frame generally accepted within the wireless telecommunications sector. [30] Furthermore, the fact that LG had concluded two licensing agreements with other implementers on the terms offered to TCL was considered by the Court as an indication that said terms are not 'evidently non-FRAND', even though LG had not formed a standard licensing programme established in the market yet. [31]
 

Provision of security

Having found that TCL had acted as an unwilling licensee, the Court did neither examine whether the amount of the security payment provided by TCL (that covered past sales only in Germany) was sufficient nor whether this payment was belated or not. [32]

  • [1] LG v TCL, District Court of Mannheim, 2 March 2021, Case-No. 2 O 131/19 (cited by GRUR-RS 2021, 6244).
  • [2] Ibid, paras. 49-104
  • [3] Ibid, paras. 111 et seqq.
  • [4] Ibid, paras. 117 and 158 et seqq.
  • [5] Ibid, para. 117.
  • [6] Ibid, para. 118.
  • [7] Ibid, para. 121.
  • [8] Ibid, para. 122.
  • [9] Ibid, para. 123. et seqq
  • [10] Ibid, para. 124.
  • [11] Ibid, para. 125.
  • [12] Ibid, para. 126.
  • [13] Ibid, para. 127.
  • [14] Ibid, para. 128.
  • [15] Ibid, paras. 129-130 and 142 et seqq.
  • [16] Ibid, paras. 144 et seqq.
  • [17] Ibid, para. 147. The Court found that the Qualcomm licence did not lead to the exhaustion of LG's patent rights in the present case, see paras. 95-104.
  • [18] Ibid, paras. 152 et seq.
  • [19] Ibid, para. 154.
  • [20] Ibid, para. 155.
  • [21] Ibid, paras. 129 et seq.
  • [22] Ibid, para. 130.
  • [23] Ibid, para. 132.
  • [24] Ibid, para. 133.
  • [25] Ibid, para. 134. Under Section 315 of the German Civil Code the patent holder can be granted the right to unilaterally determine the royalties payable under the licence. The implementer preserves, however, the right to challenge such determination before court. The final amount of the royalty payable will, ultimately, be decided by the court in trials following the conclusion of the licensing agreement.
  • [26] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13.
  • [27] LG v TCL, District Court of Mannheim, 2 March 2021, Case-No. 2 O 131/19, para. 133.
  • [28] Ibid, paras. 136 et seq.
  • [29] Ibid, para. 157.
  • [30] Ibid, para. 160.
  • [31] Ibid, para. 161.
  • [32] Ibid, para. 156.


LG対TCL

2 3月 2021 - Case No. 2 O 131/19

A. 事実

LGは、韓国に本社を置く世界的なエレクトロニクス企業であり、欧州電気通信標準化機構(ETSI)が開発した4G/LTEを含む各種無線通信規格の実施に必須である(と見込まれる)と宣言された特許(標準必須特許、SEP)ポートフォリオを保有する。ETSIは特許保有者に対し、公平、合理的、かつ非差別的(FRAND)な条件でSEPを規格利用者に提供することを誓約するよう求めている。

TCLは中国の電子機器メーカーであり、ドイツでは(とりわけ)4G/LTEに対応した携帯電話などを輸入販売している。

2016年3月、LGはTCLグループの親会社に対し、SEPポートフォリオに関する情報を記載した書簡を送付した。2018年8月までに、LGはTCLグループ内の異なる会社に合計7通の同様の書簡を送付した。これらの書簡に対するTCLの回答はなかった。2018年3月、LGは、ランニング・ロイヤルティの支払いを定めたライセンスの申出をTCLと共有しました。これにもTCLからの回答はなかった。

2019年11月、LGはTCLを相手取り、マンハイム地方裁判所(本裁判所)に侵害訴訟を提起した。訴訟が提起された後の2020年1月、TCLはLGに初めて連絡をとった。その後、両者は秘密保持契約(NDA)を交渉し、2020年5月になって初めて署名した。それとは別に、数回の会議とやりとりが行われ、LGはその中でTCLに対し、自社のSEPポートフォリオや既存のライセンス契約に関する情報を提供した。一方、TCLは過去の販売数量に関する情報を提供した。2020年6月、TCLは2018年12月に満了したLGとQualcommのライセンス契約(Qualcommライセンス)について、交渉の場で言及した。QualcommはTCLにチップセットを供給していた。TCLは、Qualcommから供給されたQualcommライセンスの対象となっているチップセットに関しては、LGの特許権は消尽していると主張した。
2020年7月、LGはTCLに対し、(当初申し出たランニング・ロイヤルティに代えて)一括払いとする修正ライセンス供与の申出を行った。TCLはこの申出を受け入れなかった。

2020年11月、TCLはLGにカウンターオファーを行った。このカウンターオファーは、ランニング・ロイヤルティ体系に基づくものであった。TCLは、Qualcommのライセンスを視野に入れ、LGが既にライセンスを供与しているサプライヤーから取得したチップセットを搭載した携帯電話をロイヤルティの計算から除外する条項を契約に盛り込むよう要求した。

その後間もなく、LGはTCLに対し、TCLのカウンターオファーにほぼ対応する再申出を行った。LGは、ロイヤルティの計算に関して一定の修正(上限と下限の追加等)を提案し、また、TCLが販売済みのデバイスのかなりの数をロイヤルティ支払いの対象外とすることを認める前述の条項は削除した。

2020年12月、TCLは一括払いを希望する旨を示した。その後LGはそれまでの申出を若干修正した。しかしながら、両社は合意に至らなかった。

2021年1月、TCLは2016年以降のドイツ国内での販売(Qualcomm製チップセットを搭載したデバイスを含む)を対象とした担保金を支払い、過去の販売についても会計処理を行った。

本判決において[1]、本裁判所はLGを支持し、(他の請求とともに)TCLに対する差止命令を認定した。

B. 判決理由

本裁判所は、係争特許は有効であり、侵害されていると判断した[2]

本裁判所はさらに、LGが請求する差止命令による救済は執行可能であるとした[3]。LGは、本訴訟の提起前に自社保有SEPの侵害についてTCLに適切に通知する義務を果たしており、また、TCLに対してFRANDに準拠した申出を提供していた[4]。それに対し、TCLは、LGからFRANDライセンスを取得する意思を十分に表明していなかった[5]。 

侵害通知

本裁判所は、2016年3月付の最初の書簡により(最終的には、2018年3月に提示されたライセンス供与の申出により)、LGは裁判手続の開始前に、係争SEPの侵害について十分にTCLに通知していたとの見解を示した[6]

2016年3月の書簡が(本訴訟の相手方である個々の関係会社ではなく)TCLグループの親会社宛であったことは、差し障りがない[7]。本裁判所によれば、このようなタイプの書簡を親会社に宛てることは、FRAND交渉における一般的な慣行に該当する[7]

さらに、本裁判所は、2016年3月付の書簡に係争特許番号が記載されておらず、特許出願番号のみが記載していたことについては、懸念を示さなかった[8]。本裁判所は、欧州特許庁の各データベースを検索することにより、TCLは、係争特許が付与され公開されていることを識別することができたと指摘した[8]。本裁判所は、この点について、SEP保有者は自社のポートフォリオに含まれる個々の特許を表示するリストを定期的に更新する義務を負わないことを強調した[8]

意思

本裁判所によれば、TCLはFRANDライセンスを取得する意思を十分に表明していない[9]。 実施者はFRAND条件でSEP 保有者との間でライセンス契約を締結する意思があることを「明確にかつ曖昧さを残さず」また「真摯にかつ無条件に」宣言し、その後「目的志向」な方法で交渉に参加することが要求される。[10]対照的に、侵害の通知に対しライセンス契約の締結を検討する意思を示したり、ライセンスを取得するか否か、またその条件について交渉を開始したりするだけでは十分とは言えない[10]

意思の評価については、すべての状況、特に実施者の行動が考慮されなければならない[11]。 特に、裁判所は実施者の行為が「合理的に交渉を促進する」か否かを審査する必要がある[12]

本裁判所は、交渉におけるタイミングは重要な要素であるとの見解を示した。実施者は通常の場合、合理的な期間内に対応することが求められ、もし長期にわたりFRAND ライセンスに関心を示すことを控えた場合には、実施者は「追加的な努力」をしなければならない[13]。例外的なケースとして、実施者による交渉への「消極的に関与」は、例えば SEP保有者自身が(ライセンス供与の実践に関する情報を共有しない等)目的志向的な方法で議論に参加しない場合、正当化される可能性がある[14]。SEP 保有者がライセンス供与を申し出た場合、実施者は懸念があれば速やかに表明すべきであり、その後の裁判手続で使用するために潜在的な異議を控えてはならない[12]

さらに、実施者のカウンターオファーも意欲の評価において考慮される。本裁判所によれば、実施者がライセンス供与の申出と SEP 保有者からの十分な情報を受領した後に、非FRAND のカウンターオファーをする場合、原則として、FRAND の解決策に至る意思がないことを示すとみなされる[12]。実施者が自己のカウンターオファーに固執し、改善を拒否する場合も同じである[12]

このような背景のもと、本裁判所は、全体的に見てTCLがLGとの交渉を適切に進めなかったと判断した[15]。裁判所は、TCLが、QualcommのライセンスがLGの特許権の(部分的な)消尽につながるかどうか、それはどの程度までかを明らかにする努力をしなかったと指摘