Huawei対ZTE事件CJEU判決後の判例法
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Updated 26 1月 2017

Saint Lawrence v Deutsche Telekom

LG Mannheim
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. [12] 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

Updated 10 4月 2019

Huawei 対 ZTE

CJEUの決定
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 [14] 。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 [15]

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 [16] 、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 [17]

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 [17] 。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 [18] 。しかしながら、ライセンス契約の申出は決着しなかった [18]

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 [19] [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 [20] 。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 [21] 。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 [22]

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」 [23]

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 [24] 。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 [25] 、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 [26]

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 [27]

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 [28]

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 [29] 。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 [30] 。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 [31]

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 [32] 。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 [33]

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 [34] 。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 [35] 、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 [36] 。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 [37]

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 [26] 。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 [26] 。(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 [38]

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 [39]

 

  • [14] Huawei対ZTE、欧州司法裁判所2015年7月6日判決、第22節。
  • [15] 同判決、第22節。
  • [16] 同判決、第40節。
  • [17] 同判決、第24節。
  • [18] 同判決、第25節。
  • [19] 同判決、第27節。
  • [20] 同判決、第29節以下。
  • [21] 同判決、第30節以下。
  • [22] 同判決、第34節以下。
  • [23] 同判決、第77節。
  • [24] 同判決、第65節。
  • [25] 同判決、第66節。
  • [26] 同判決、第67節。
  • [27] 同判決、第72節以下。
  • [28] 同判決、第42節。
  • [29] 同判決、第43節。
  • [30] 同判決、第46節。
  • [31] 同判決、第47節。
  • [32] 同判決、第53節。
  • [33] 同判決、第53節以下。
  • [34] 同判決、第58節以下。
  • [35] 同判決、第61節。
  • [36] 同判決、第63節。
  • [37] 同判決、第64節。
  • [38] 同判決、第68節。
  • [39] 同判決、第69節。

Updated 26 1月 2017

Saint Lawrence v Vodafone

LG Düsseldorf
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, [40] 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. [41] The court declared the Huawei rules applicable to claims for the recall of products. [42] 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. [43] 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. [44] In non-transitional cases, however, the court doubts whether it is possible to rectify an omitted infringement notification without withdrawing the action. [45] 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. [46] 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. [47] 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. [48] 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. [49] 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. [50] 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. [51] 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. [52] 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. [53]
    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. [54] Whether the Intervener satisfied the ECJ criteria was left undecided. [55] 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. [56] 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. [57] 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. [58] 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. [59] 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. [60] 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. [61] 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. [62]
  3. Other important issues
    According to the court, the Huawei requirements apply to both non-practicing entities and other market participants. [63] 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. [64] 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. [65]
  • [40] 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.
  • [41] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 184
  • [42] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 187
  • [43] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 195 et seq.
  • [44] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 208-210
  • [45] Case No. 4a O 126/14, para. IV, 3, a, bb, 2, c
  • [46] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 193
  • [47] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 270 et seq.
  • [48] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 222 et seq.
  • [49] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 225 et seq.
  • [50] 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.
  • [51] 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.
  • [52] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 256 et seq.
  • [53] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 279 et seq.
  • [54] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 214-220
  • [55] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 214-220; 278
  • [56] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 266
  • [57] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 185 et seq.; 262 et seq.
  • [58] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 264
  • [59] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 291 et seq.
  • [60] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 278
  • [61] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 267 et seq.; 299 et seq.
  • [62] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 304
  • [63] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 189
  • [64] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 309-313
  • [65] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 317 et seq.

Updated 24 7月 2020

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

Federal Court of Justice - BGH
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 [66] 。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 [67]

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 [68] 。 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 [69] 。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 [70] 。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 [71]

2020年5月5日付のこの判決により  [72] (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 [73]

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 [74]

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  [75]

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 [76] 。従って、いくつかの要因を考慮する必要がある [77] 。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 [78]  。

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 [79]

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 [80] 。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  [81] 。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 [82] 。 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 [83]

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 [84] 。 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 [84] 。 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  [84]

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  [85]

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  [85]

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  [86]  。

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  [87] 。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。 [87] 。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。 [88]  。

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) [89]  。
  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 [90]

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 [91] 。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  [92]  。

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 [93]  。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  [93]  。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。 [94]  。

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  [95] [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 [96]  。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 [96]  。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)  [96]  。

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 [97] 。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 [97]

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  [98]  。

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 [99] 。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 [100] 。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  [100]  。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 [100] 。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  [101]  。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  [102]  。

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)  [103]  。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  [103]  。

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  [104]

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 [105]  。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 [105]  。

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  [106]  。

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  [107]  。

 

  • [66] 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。
  • [67] 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。
  • [68] 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。
  • [69] 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。
  • [70] 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)。
  • [71] 連邦裁判所、2020年3月10日付判決、事件番号No. X ZR 44/18。
  • [72] Sisvel 対Haier、連邦裁判所、2020年5月5日付判決、事件番号KZR 36/17。
  • [73] 同判決、第9節以下、及び第59節。
  • [74] 同判決、第52節。
  • [75] 同判決、第54節。
  • [76] 同判決、第56節。
  • [77] 同判決、第 57節以下。
  • [78] 同判決、第58節。
  • [79] 同判決、第59節以下。
  • [80] 同判決、第61節。
  • [81] 同判決、第63節。
  • [82] 同判決、第62節。
  • [83] 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。
  • [84] 同判決、第64節。
  • [85] 同判決、第65節。
  • [86] 同判決、第67節以下。
  • [87] 同判決、第69節。
  • [88] 同判決、第70節。
  • [89] 同判決、第71節。
  • [90] 同判決、第72節。
  • [91] 同判決、第73節以下。
  • [92] 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。
  • [93] 同判決、第74節。
  • [94] 同判決、第74節及び第85節。
  • [95] 同判決、第89節。
  • [96] 同判決、第85節。
  • [97] 同判決、第87節。
  • [98] 同判決、第86 節以下。
  • [99] 同判決、第91節以下。
  • [100] 同判決、第92節。
  • [101] 同判決、第93節以下。
  • [102] 同判決、第94節。
  • [103] 同判決、第83節。
  • [104] 同判決、第95節。
  • [105] 同判決、第96節。
  • [106] 同判決、第98節。
  • [107] 同判決、第97節。

Updated 6 6月 2019

Conversant v LG, Court of Appeal of Paris

フランス裁判所の決定
16 4月 2019 - Case No. 061/2019, RG 15/17037

A. Facts

On 1 September 2011, the Claimant, Conversant Wireless Licensing SARL (Conversant; previously named Core Wireless Licensing SARL), acquired from Nokia more than 2,000 patents declared essential to the GSM, UMTS or LTE standards (Standard Essential Patents, or SEPs) towards ETSI [108] .

Conversant contacted the Defendants, LG Electronics France SAS and LG Electronics Inc. (LG) for a licence under the patents in March 2012. The parties held a few meetings to find an agreement on a Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) rate for a global license under Conversant’s essential patents [109] .

On 30 September 2014, Conversant brought an infringement action against LG based on five patents before the Paris Court (Court), asking inter alia for a FRAND rate determination [110] .

In first instance, the Court rejected Conversant’s claims, as it held that Conversant had not demonstrated the essentiality of the patents in suit [111] .

On appeal, Conversant solely asserted two out of the five patents asserted in first instance [112] . With the present judgment, the Court of Appeal of Paris (Court of Appeal) confirmed the first instance decision, finding the patents in suit valid but not essential [113] .

B. Court’s reasoning

Validity, Essentiality and Infringement

In first instance, Conversant alleged five patents to be essential and infringed by LG [108] . On appeal, both parties acknowledged that, for three of them, the essentiality was not sufficiently supported [114] .

Therefore, the Court of Appeal limited the analysis of validity, essentiality and infringement to the two other patents, EP 978 210 (EP 210) and EP 950 330 (EP 330) [110] . LG raised prior art documents to challenge the validity, novelty and inventive steps of the patents. The Court of Appeal analysed those documents to determine that none was destroying the validity of the patents [115] .

Regarding the essentiality, Conversant had alleged that EP 210 was essential to both UMTS and LTE standards [116] and EP 330 was essential to the LTE standard [117] . The Court of Appeal rejected those claims by comparing the patent specifications to the technical specifications of the relevant standards [118] and found hold that standard compliant devices do not necessarily have to use the patents in suit. The Court considered that it is possible to comply with the UMTS and LTE standards without implementing said patents. The Court, therefore, found that the patents are not essential [110] .

FRAND determination

Conversant and LG both had requested the Court to make a FRAND determination. However, as Conversant’s infringement claim was based on the essentiality of the patents, the Court of Appeal declared any request concerning a FRAND rate determination, past damages and the nomination of an expert without object [119] .

FRAND duties and abuse of a dominant position

In its decision, the Court of Appeal also briefly summarized two points addressed by the first instance Court regarding parties’ duties in negotiation and a potential abuse of dominant position without any further analysis.

One of them is the determination of bad faith of the parties in the negotiations. In first instance, the Court stated that it was difficult to assess bad faith in view of the history of the negotiations. The Court had underlined that the fact that the parties negotiated for more than two years tended to demonstrate that none of them was of particularly bad faith to push the other not to further pursue the negotiations [112] . The Court had further stressed that as each company passed the buck to the other, it was difficult to declare that bad faith lied more on one side than the other [110] .

Regarding a potential abuse of dominant position through the filing of an action based on SEPs by Conversant, the Court had stated that filing a judicial complaint to have a FRAND rate determined that could not be amicably fixed, without any other circumstance demonstrating among others the express willingness to deprive LG of its rights to exploit the patents against a fair and proportionate compensation, could not constitute an abuse of a dominant position [110] .

Confidentiality and Trade Secret Protection

The Court of Appeals also briefly referred to the rules for the protection of trade secrets that had been agreed upon by the parties and accepted by the Court of Appeal.

In application of Article L153-1 of French Commercial Code, the parties had set up a protection mechanism for confidential documents, which included the following steps [120] : (1) access to some licensing agreements from Nokia and Conversant would be restricted to the parties’ legal representatives, the court and persons (translators or experts) obliged to confidentiality by a Non-Disclosure Agreement, (2) the parties would submit two versions of each party’s written conclusions to the Court of Appeal, one with a reference to all disclosed agreements in full with confidential information highlighted and one without any reference to any confidential information [121] .

  • [108] Court of Appeal of Paris, judgement dated 16 April 2019, page 3.
  • [109] Ibidem.
  • [110] Ibid.
  • [111] Court of Appeal of Paris, judgement dated 16 April 2019, pages 5-6.
  • [112] Court of Appeal of Paris, judgement dated 16 April 2019, page 6.
  • [113] Court of Appeal of Paris, judgement dated 16 April 2019, pages 15-24.
  • [114] Court of Appeal of Paris, judgement dated 16 April 2019, page 15.
  • [115] Court of Appeal of Paris, judgement dated 16 April 2019, pages 15 and subsequent.
  • [116] Court of Appeal of Paris, judgement dated 16 April 2019, pages 19-21.
  • [117] Court of Appeal of Paris, judgement dated 16 April 2019, pages 23-24.
  • [118] Court of Appeal of Paris, judgement dated 16 April 2019, pages 19-21 and 23-24.
  • [119] Court of Appeal of Paris, judgement dated 16 April 2019, pages 24-25.
  • [120] Court of Appeal of Paris, judgement dated 16 April 2019, page 13
  • [121] Court of Appeal of Paris, judgement dated 16 April 2019, page 14

Updated 26 1月 2017

Saint Lawrence v Vodafone 2

LG Düsseldorf
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, [122] 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. [123] The court declared the Huawei rules applicable to claims for the recall of products. [124]
      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. [125] 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. [126] In non-transitional cases, however, the court doubts whether it is possible to rectify an omitted infringement notification without withdrawing the action. [127]
      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. [128]
      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. [129] 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. [130]
      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. [131] 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. [132] 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. [133]
      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. [134]
      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. [135]
    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. [136] Whether the Intervener satisfied the ECJ criteria was left undecided. [137]
      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. [138] 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. [139] 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. [140]
      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. [141] 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. [142]
      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. [143] 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. [144]
  3. Other important issues
    According to the court, the Huawei requirements apply to both non-practicing entities and other market participants. [145]
    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. [146]
    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. [147]
  • [122] 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.
  • [123] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 184
  • [124] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 187
  • [125] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 195 et seq.
  • [126] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 208-210
  • [127] Case No. 4a O 126/14, para. IV, 3, a, bb, 2, c
  • [128] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 193
  • [129] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 270 et seq.
  • [130] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 222 et seq.
  • [131] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 225 et seq.
  • [132] 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.
  • [133] 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.
  • [134] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 256 et seq.
  • [135] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 279 et seq.
  • [136] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 214-220
  • [137] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 214-220; 278
  • [138] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 266
  • [139] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 185 et seq.; 262 et seq.
  • [140] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 264.
  • [141] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 291 et seq.
  • [142] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 278
  • [143] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 267 et seq.; 299 et seq.
  • [144] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 304
  • [145] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 189
  • [146] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 309-313
  • [147] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 317 et seq.

Updated 6 5月 2021

Sisvel v Haier

Federal Court of Justice - BGH
24 11月 2020 - Case No. KZR 35/17

A. Facts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On 3 November 2015, the District Court decided in favour of Sisvel in both cases [148] . It granted injunctions against Haier and ordered the recall and destruction of infringing products. The District Court further recognised Haier's liability for damages on the merits and ordered Haier to render full and detailed account of the sales of infringing products to Sisvel. Haier appealed both decisions.

In the subsequent proceedings before the Higher District Court of Duesseldorf (Appeal Court), Haier argued –among other things– that the District Court had not adequately taken into account the conduct requirements imposed on SEP holders by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in the Huawei v ZTE ruling [149] (Huawei judgment) rendered after Sisvel had filed the infringement actions.

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

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

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

By two judgments dated 30 March 2017, the Appeal Court partially granted Haier's appeals in both parallel proceedings [150] . The claims for injunctive relief as well as the recall and destruction of infringing products were dismissed on the grounds that Sisvel had not complied with its obligations under the Huawei judgment, especially by failing to make a FRAND licensing offer to Haier.

Sisvel appealed the decisions of the Appeal Court.

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

On 5 May 2020, FCJ rendered a judgment in the parallel proceedings pending between the parties concerning the patent reading on the GPRS standard [152] . The Court decided in favour of Sisvel and reversed the judgment of the Appeal Court. With the present judgmentSisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 24 November 2020, Case No. KZR 35/17 (cited by )., the Court reversed the decision of the Appeal Court also in the case involving the patent in suit.
 

B. Court's reasoning

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

Contrary to the view previously taken by the Appeal Court, FCJ found that by initiating infringement proceedings against Haier, Sisvel had not abused a dominant market position in violation of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) [155] .
 

Dominant market position

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

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

Abuse of market dominance

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

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

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

Notification of infringement

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

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

Willingness

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

In the Court's eyes, the implementer must 'clearly' and 'unambiguously' declare willingness to conclude a licence agreement with the SEP holder on FRAND terms and, subsequently, engage in negotiations in a 'target-oriented' manner [164] . By contrast, it is not sufficient, in response to a notification of infringement, to just demonstrate willingness to consider signing a licensing agreement or to enter into negotiations about whether and under which conditions taking a licence comes into question [164] .

The Court reasoned that the willingness of the implementer to legitimise the unauthorized use of the patent for the future by creating a respective contractual base is a prerequisite for placing the burden on the SEP holder to negotiate a FRAND licence with the implementer. [165] What is more, willingness (on both sides) is essential, because an adequate solution balancing the opposing interests of the parties results, as a rule, from an interest-based negotiation. [166] The fact that a party fails to contribute in negotiations towards a FRAND agreement will regularly be considered to its detriment. [167] An implementer, who has not shown interest in a FRAND-licence over a longer period after receipt of an infringement notification will have to undertake 'additional efforts' to make sure, that despite the delay caused a licence can be signed as soon as possible. [168]

The Court highlighted particularly that implementers should not engage in 'patent hold-out' by exploiting the 'structural disadvantage', which SEP holders face due to the limitation of their right to assert patents in court. [169] Otherwise, competition could be distorted, because the infringer would gain unfair advantages over implementers that have taken a licence in a timely manner. [169]

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

The Court observed that the Huawei judgment supports the notion that the implementer should remain willing to obtain a licence throughout the course of negotiations.Ibid, para. 65. The 'continuous' willingness is an 'indispensable condition' for successful negotiations or, in case negotiations fail, for a finding of abuse of market dominance on the side of the SEP holder.Ibid, para. 68. The refusal of SEP holder to grant a FRAND licence would, indeed, have no relevance in antitrust terms, when the implementer is not objectively willing and able to obtain such licence. [173]

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

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

Having said that, FCJ noted that for the assessment of the willingness of the implementer its entire conduct (including its reaction to the SEP holder's licensing offer) must be taken into account.Ibid, para. 77. Consequently, willingness can change in the course of time: a court action filed by the SEP holder could become abusive at a later point in time, if the implementer adequately raises a request for a FRAND-licence.Ibid, paras. 79 et seqq. However, the longer the implementer waits with asserting such request, the higher the threshold for considering it as a willing licensee will be. [184] The Court again noted that the above inter­pretation is in line with the Huawei judgment, so that no additional referral to the CJEU is needed, as Haier had requested.Ibid, para. 77.

Against this background, the Court observed that the first response of Haier China to Sisvel's notification almost one year after receipt of the infringement notification was belated [185] . An implementer taking several months to respond to a notification of infringement, typically, sends a signal that there is no interest in taking a licence [185] . Besides that, FCJ found that Haier's response in December 2013, in which only the 'hope' to have a 'formal negotiation' was expressed, was not a sufficient declaration of willing­ness, in terms of content [186] . Since it had reacted belatedly to the notification of infringement, Haier should have undertaken 'additional efforts' to demonstrate willingness, which had been, however, not the case. [187]

Similarly, Haier's letter dated 16 January 2016 did not contain a sufficient declaration of willingness, since Haier had made the signing of a licence subject to the prior confirmation of the validity and infringement of the patent in suit by German courts [188] . Although the implementer is, in principle, allowed to preserve the right to contest the validity of a licensed patent after conclusion of an agreement, the Court held that a declaration of willingness cannot be placed under a respective conditionIbid, para. 95.. Besides that, requesting the production of claim charts for all patents of Sisvel's portfolio almost three years after the receipt of the notification of infringement was, according to the Court, an indication that Haier was only interested in delaying the negotiations until the expiration of the patent in suit [190] .

Furthermore, FCJ found that Haier's willingness to enter into a FRAND licence could also not be extracted from the counteroffers made during the infringement proceedings.Ibid, paras. 102 et seqq. The fact that these counteroffers were, in terms of scope, limited only to the patents asserted by Sisvel in court indicated that Haier had not seriously addressed Sisvel's request for a worldwide portfolio licence. [192] Given that it had more than sufficient time to examine Sisvel's portfolio, one could expect from Haier to provide substantive grounds for such 'selective licensing'. [192]

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

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

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

SEP holder's licensing offer

Having found that Haier had not sufficiently demonstrated willingness to obtain a FRAND licence, the Court did not examine the FRAND-conformity of Sisvel's licensing offers to Haier in the present case [200] . According to FCJ, this question is not relevant, when the implementer has not adequately expressed willingness to sign a FRAND licence.Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 24 November 2020, Case No. KZR 35/17, para. 107.

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

C. Other important issues

Patent ambush

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

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

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

Damages

Finally, the Court found that Sisvel's damage claims were given on the merits. Negligence establishing Haier's liability for damages was given: The implementer is, in principle, obliged to make sure that no third party rights are infringed, before starting manufacturing or selling products, which Haier had not done. [207]

What is more, Sisvel's claim for damages was not limited to the amount of a FRAND licensing rate ('licensing analogy'). [208] The SEP holder is entitled to full damages, unless the implementer can assert an own counterclaim, requesting to be placed in the position, in which it would have been, in case that the SEP holder had fulfilled the obligations arising from its dominant market position. [207] An implementer is, however, entitled to such (counter)claim, only when it adequately expressed its willingness to enter into a licence, which had not been the case here.77

  • [148] Sisvel v Haier, District Court of Duesseldorf, judgment dated 3 November 2015, Case No. 4a O 144/14 (UMTS-related patent) and Case No. 4a O 93/14 (GPRS-related patent).
  • [149] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13.
  • [150] Sisvel v Haier, Higher District Court of Duesseldorf, judgment dated 30 March 2017, Case No. I-15 U 65/15 (UMTS-related patent) and Case No. I-15 U 66/15 (GPRS-related patent).
  • [151] Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 28 April 2020, Case No. X ZR 35/18.
  • [152] Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 5 May 2020, Case No. KZR 36/17.
  • [153] Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 24 November 2020, Case No. KZR 35/17 (cited by ).
  • [154] Ibid, paras. 10-43.
  • [155] Ibid, para. 44.
  • [156] Ibid, paras. 48 et seqq.
  • [157] Ibid, para. 49.
  • [158] Ibid, para. 52.
  • [159] Ibid, para. 53.
  • [160] Ibid, para. 54.
  • [161] Ibid, para. 55.
  • [162] Ibid, para. 84.
  • [163] Ibid, paras. 86 et seqq.
  • [164] Ibid, para. 57.
  • [165] Ibid, para. 58.
  • [166] Ibid, para. 59.
  • [167] Ibid, para. 60.
  • [168] Ibid, para. 62.
  • [169] Ibid, para. 61.
  • [170] Ibid, para. 63.
  • [171] Ibid, para. 65.
  • [172] Ibid, para. 68.
  • [173] Ibid, paras. 66 and 68.
  • [174] Ibid, para. 69.
  • [175] Ibid, para. 69. See Nokia v Daimler, District Court of Duesseldorf, order dated 26 November 2020, Case No. 4c O 17/19.
  • [176] Ibid, paras. 70 and 71.
  • [177] Ibid, para. 71.
  • [178] Ibid, para. 72.
  • [179] Ibid, para. 73.
  • [180] Ibid, para. 74.
  • [181] Ibid, para. 76.
  • [182] Ibid, para. 77.
  • [183] Ibid, paras. 79 et seqq.
  • [184] Ibid, para. 83.
  • [185] Ibid, para. 87.
  • [186] Ibid, paras. 88 et seqq.
  • [187] Ibid, para. 89.
  • [188] Ibid, paras. 93 et seqq.
  • [189] Ibid, para. 95.
  • [190] Ibid, paras. 96-99.
  • [191] Ibid, paras. 102 et seqq.
  • [192] Ibid, para. 102.
  • [193] Ibid, paras. 108 et seqq.
  • [194] Ibid, para. 116.
  • [195] Ibid, para. 118.
  • [196] Ibid, paras. 124 et seqq.
  • [197] Ibid, para. 124.
  • [198] Ibid, para. 125.
  • [199] Ibid, para. 126.
  • [200] The Court had, however, undertaken such analysis in its earlier decision between the same parties dated May 2020. See Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 5 May 2020, Case No. KZR 36/17, especially paras. 76-81 and 101 et seqq.
  • [201] Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 24 November 2020, Case No. KZR 35/17, para. 107.
  • [202] Ibid, para. 56.
  • [203] Ibid, paras. 127 et seqq.
  • [204] Ibid, para. 130.
  • [205] Ibid, para. 131.
  • [206] Ibid, paras. 131 et seq.
  • [207] Ibid, para. 135.
  • [208] Ibid, paras. 134 et seqq.

Updated 6 6月 2019

Koninklijke Philips N.V.対Asustek Computers INC.、ハーグ控訴裁判所

オランダ裁判所の決定
7 5月 2019 - Case No. 200.221.250/01

A. 事実

本件は、消費者向け電子機器製造業者であり欧州電気通信標準化機構(European Telecommunications Standards Institute: ETSI)が開発した様々な標準の実施において潜在的に必須であるとして宣言済みの特許(標準必須特許又はSEP)のポートフォリオの保有者であるPhilipsと、ラップトップ、タブレット、及びスマートフォン等の無線機器の製造業者であるAsusとの間の紛争に関するものである。

Philipsは、公平、合理的、かつ非差別的(Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory: FRAND)な条件で標準の使用者がPhilipsのSEPにアクセスできるようにするとの誓約をETSIに対して行っていた。特に、Philipsは1998年に自社のSEPへのアクセスをFRAND条件でオファーするとの一般的(包括的)な誓約をETSIに対して行っていた。

2013年、Philipsは3G-UMTS及び4G-LTEの無線通信標準に包含される自社のポートフォリオについてAsusに通知し、ライセンス契約を提案した。両当事者間のその後の話し合いにおいて、Philipsは自社の特許の詳細を更に示し自社の特許及び対応する標準をマッピングしたクレームチャートを提供した。またPhilipsは、自社の標準ライセンス契約(Philipsのライセンスプログラムにおける標準ロイヤルティ料率とその計算方法を含む)もAsusに提出した。

2015年、交渉は決裂し、Philipsは欧州の様々な法域(即ち、イングランド、フランス、及びドイツ)において、とりわけ欧州特許1 623 511 (EP 511)に基づき侵害訴訟を提起した。Philipsは、EP 511特許が3G-UMTS及び4G-LTE標準に(潜在的に)必須であるとの宣言を行っていた。イングランド・ウェールズ高等法院は、EP 511 特許の有効性を支持する予備的評決(preliminary verdict)を下した。

Philipsは、オランダでは、とりわけ差止命令を求めてAsusに対する訴訟をハーグ地方裁判所(地方裁判所)において提起していた。地方裁判所は、EP 511特許に基づくPhilipsの差止請求を棄却した [209] 。Philipsは、ハーグ控訴裁判所(控訴裁判所)に控訴した。

本判決では、控訴裁判所がEP 511の有効性及び必須性を支持し、TFEU第102条に基づきFRAND違反を主張するAsusの抗弁(FRAND defense)を退け、Asusに対して係争中の特許を侵害している製品についての差止命令を出した [210]


B. 判決理由

控訴裁判所はEP 511特許の新規性及び進歩性を認め当該特許の有効性に対するAsusの異議を棄却した [211] 。更に、控訴裁判所は、当該特許が必須であり侵害されていると認めた [212]

控訴裁判所は、Asusの主張、即ち、Philipsが差止による救済を求めて侵害訴訟を提起する上でETSI に対する契約上のFRAND義務に違反しており、欧州司法裁判所(Court of Justice of the EU: CJEU) がHuawei対ZTE事件において定めた要件(Huawei要件)を遵守しなかったことによりTFEU第102 条 に違反したとの主張を審理した [213] 。特に、Asusは、(a) ETSI のIPR Policyに従った適切かつ適時なEP 511の開示をPhilipsが行なわず、また(b)提示した条件がFRANDである根拠を明確に示さなかったことでPhilipsがHuawei要件に反していたと主張した。

控訴裁判所は、前者について、EP 511の付与から2年後に当該特許が(潜在的に)必須であるとPhilipsが宣言したことは、SEPの「適時の開示(timely disclosure)」を求めるETSI IPR Policy第4.1条に基づく契約上の義務への違反に当たらないとした。

控訴裁判所は、ETSIの開示義務の根底にある一般的な目的について、ETSI標準に利用可能な最高の技術を組み入れることであって、Asusが主張したようにETSI 標準への参加者が最低のコストで(必須の)技術ソリューションを選択できるようにすることではないとした [214]  。また、宣言を行う義務の目的は、むしろ、使用者にとって事後的に実施できないSEPが現れないようにリスクを減らすことであるとした [215]

その上で控訴裁判所は、Philipsが行った一般的かつ包括的な宣言はETSIのIPR Policyに基づく義務を果たすために十分であったとした。この点について、控訴裁判所は、Philipsが特定のSEPの宣言を遅く行ったことは(必須でない特許を含めた)超過宣言(over-declaration)を招くとのAsusの主張を退け、逆に控訴裁判所は、早期開示ではETSI 標準に必須でない特許が含まれてしまう可能性の方が高いとした [216]  。更に、控訴裁判所は、欧州委員会の水平的協調行為に関するガイドライン(Horizontal Guidelines )によれば包括的宣言はEU競争法の目的上許容されるSEP宣言の形式の1つであり、Philipsの包括的宣言はTFEU第101条違反に当たらないと指摘した  [217]

FRAND違反を主張するAsusの抗弁(FRAND defense)の第一の根拠を退けた上で、控訴裁判所は、両当事者が交渉上Huawei要件に従っていたか否かについて評価した。控訴裁判所は、前置きとして、Huawei 事件におけるCJEUの判決は、Huawei要件に従わない特許保有者が自動的にTFEU第102条違反を犯したものとされる厳格な要件のセットを定めてはいないと述べた [218]  。このため、控訴裁判所は、本事件の特定の状況と両当事者の行為を評価する必要があるとした。

その次に控訴裁判所は、Huawei要件の第一ステップである侵害者への適切な通知の義務をPhilipsが遵守したか否かを審理した。控訴裁判所は、侵害を受けているとされる特許のリストとそれらが必須である標準をPhilipsが提出したこと及びFRAND条件でライセンスをオファーする意思をPhilipsが宣言したことによりAsusへの通知義務をPhilipsが明確に果たしていたと事件記録が示しているとの見解をとった。 [219]  また、その後の技術的議論において、Philipsは自社のポートフォリオとライセンスプログラムについての更なる詳細(クレームチャート及び標準ライセンスでのロイヤルティ料率を含む)を提供していた [220] 。これに対して、AsusはFRAND条件でのライセンスを受ける意思を表示しなかった。控訴裁判所は、交渉が常にPhilipsの側から始められ、AsusはPhilipsのポートフォリオを評価できる技術専門家を交渉に参加させていなかったと事実認定した [221] 。控訴裁判所は、交渉においてAsusが提起した技術的問題が交渉を遅らせることだけを目的としており「ホールドアウト(hold-out)」と言われる行為に当たるとした  [222]

この時点で既に、控訴裁判所はAsusがHuawei要件に基づく義務に違反しており、Philipsは差止命令を求める権利を有していると判断していたが、更に踏み込んでHuaweiフレームワークの第二ステップ以降の遵守についても検討した。控訴裁判所は、 Philipsが自社の標準ライセンス契約を提示したことは、具体的であり提示した料率の計算法も説明している点でCJEU要件を完全に満たしているとした [223] 。更に、控訴裁判所は、ドイツにおいて訴訟が提起された後にAsusが出したカウンターオファー自体は、PhilipsがHuawei要件を遵守しており従って差止命令を求める権利を有するとの結論を変えるものではないとした [224] 。最後に、控訴裁判所はPhilipsが交わしている比較可能なライセンス契約がFRAND適格であるかを評価するためにそれらへのアクセスを求めたAsusの弁護士による要求を却下した。控訴裁判所は、ETSIのIPR Policy、TFEU第102条、及びHuawei フレームワークの何れも当該要求の根拠とはならないとした [225]

  • [209] Koninklijke Philips N.V.対Asustek Computers INC、ハーグ地方裁判所、2017年、事件番号C 09 512839 /HA ZA 16-712。
  • [210] Koninklijke Philips N.V.対Asustek Computers INC、ハーグ控訴裁判所、2019年5月7日判決、事件番号200.221.250/01。
  • [211] 同判決、第4.63節、第4.68節、第4.75節、第4.80節、第4.82節、第4.93節、第4.100節、及び第4.117節。
  • [212] 同判決、第4.118節 以下。
  • [213] Huawei対ZTE、欧州司法裁判所、2015年7月16日判決、事件番号C-170/13。
  • [214] Koninklijke Philips N.V.対Asustek Computers INC、ハーグ控訴裁判所、2019年5月7日判決、事件番号200.221.250/01、第4.153節以下。
  • [215] 同判決、第4.155節及び第4.157節。
  • [216] 同判決、第4.159節。
  • [217] 同判決、第4.164節。
  • [218] 同判決、第4.171節。
  • [219] 同判決、第4.172節。
  • [220] 同判決。
  • [221] 同判決、第4.172節ないし第4.179節。
  • [222] 同判決、第4.179節。
  • [223] 同判決、第4.183節。
  • [224] 同判決、第4.185節。
  • [225] 同判決、第4.202節以下。