Huawei対ZTE事件CJEU判決後の判例法
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Updated 23 1月 2018

LG Mannheim

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.

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, [105] 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. [106] The court declared the Huawei rules applicable to claims for the recall of products. [107] 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. [108] 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. [109] In non-transitional cases, however, the court doubts whether it is possible to rectify an omitted infringement notification without withdrawing the action. [110] 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. [111] 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. [112] 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. [113] 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. [114] 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. [115] 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. [116] 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. [117] 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. [118]
    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. [119] Whether the Intervener satisfied the ECJ criteria was left undecided. [120] 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. [121] 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. [122] 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. [123] 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. [124] 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. [125] 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. [126] 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. [127]
  3. Other important issues
    According to the court, the Huawei requirements apply to both non-practicing entities and other market participants. [128] 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. [129] 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. [130]
  • [105] 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.
  • [106] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 184
  • [107] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 187
  • [108] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 195 et seq.
  • [109] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 208-210
  • [110] Case No. 4a O 126/14, para. IV, 3, a, bb, 2, c
  • [111] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 193
  • [112] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 270 et seq.
  • [113] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 222 et seq.
  • [114] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 225 et seq.
  • [115] 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.
  • [116] 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.
  • [117] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 256 et seq.
  • [118] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 279 et seq.
  • [119] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 214-220
  • [120] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 214-220; 278
  • [121] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 266
  • [122] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 185 et seq.; 262 et seq.
  • [123] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 264
  • [124] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 291 et seq.
  • [125] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 278
  • [126] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 267 et seq.; 299 et seq.
  • [127] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 304
  • [128] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 189
  • [129] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 309-313
  • [130] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 317 et seq.

Updated 9 11月 2020

シャープ対ダイムラー、ミュンヘン地方裁判所

LG Munich
10 9月 2020 - Case No. 7 O 8818/19

A. 内容

原告は、日本に本社を置くシャープグループ会社(シャープ)である。シャープは、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(標準必須特許又はSEP)の実施に必須(と見込まれる)として宣言済みの特許ポートフォリオを保有している。

被告ダイムラーは、ドイツの大手自動車メーカーである。ダイムラーは、ETSIにより開発された規格を実施する接続機能を搭載した自動車をドイツで製造し、販売している。

シャープは、本事件に関係する特許について、4G/LTE規格に必須(と見込まれる)としてETSIに宣言した。ETSIは、規格の実施に必須であるか、必須となる特許を公正、合理的かつ非差別的(FRAND)条件にてユーザーの利用に供すると確約するよう権利保有者に要求している。

In 2017年、シャープは、Avanciライセンシングプラットフォームに参加した。Avanciは、標準ライセンス契約及び固定料率に基づき、接続規格に関するSEPのライセンスを自動車メーカーにオファーした。Avanciは、2016年9月以降、ライセンス契約締結に関し、既にダイムラーと接触していたが、契約締結には至らなかった。

On 20 May 2019年5月20日、最初の接触後、シャープは、対象規格の関連部分にかかわる自社のSEP(係争中の特許を含む)を図示したクレームチャートをダイムラーに送付した。

2019年6月7日、ダイムラーは、使用した特許につき原則としてライセンスを取得する意向である旨を回答したが、双方向ライセンスのオファー又はAvanciプラットフォームを経由したライセンス許諾を行うかどうかシャープに尋ねた。双方向ライセンスがオファーされていれば、ダイムラーは、自社のサプライヤーも同様にライセンスを取得できると想定したことを指摘した。

2019年7月23日、ダイムラーは、ダイムラーでなく自社のサプライヤー(ただし、個別の社名には言及されていない)にライセンスが許諾されるべきだとの書簡をあらためてシャープに送付した。ダイムラーは、ダイムラーのサプライヤーにライセンスがオファーされないのであればシャープのETSIに対するFRAND誓約に反していると主張し、シャープの締結済み契約、特にダイムラーに接続ユニットを供給している会社との契約に関する情報を要請した。

2019年8月8日、シャープは、個別ライセンスをオファーする意向であるとダイムラーに回答し、通知した。このため、シャープは、一定の情報、特にダイムラーのサプライヤーにかかわる情報をダイムラーに要請した。

2019年9月18日、ダイムラーは、シャープから要請された情報の提供を拒絶し、シャープによる適切なライセンス要求先として自社のサプライヤーに委ねるとした。

2019年10月22日、シャープは、ダイムラーに双方向のFRAND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。

その後、シャープは、ダイムラーを相手取り、ミュンヘン地方裁判所(裁判所)に権利侵害訴訟を提起した。ダイムラーの複数のサプライヤーがダイムラーを援護するため当該訴訟に参加した。 2019年12月17日、訴訟が提起された後、ダイムラーは、係争中の権利侵害訴訟の停止に同意するようシャープに要請した後、カウンターオファーを行った。2019年12月31日、シャープは、ダイムラーのこのカウンターオファーを拒絶した。

審理の過程で、シャープは、訴訟に参加していたダイムラーのサプライヤー1社との間で、ライセンス契約に関し合意した。結果として、シャープは、審理での主張内容を修正した。

この判決 [89] をもって、裁判所は、ダイムラーに差止命令を下すとともに、ダイムラーの損害賠償責任を判示した。さらに裁判所は、侵害製品のリコール及び破棄、計算書の提出、並びにシャープに対する損害賠償金の算定に必要な情報の提供をするようダイムラーに命じた。
 

B. 判決理由

裁判所は、係争中の特許が4G/LTE規格の実施に必須 [90] であり、侵害されていた [91] と認めた。これにより、シャープは、差止命令の救済手段を求める権利がある [92] 。 ダイムラーは、いわゆる「FRAND宣言を理由とする抗弁」を展開し、シャープが権利侵害訴訟の提起によって市場支配的地位を濫用し、これがEU機能条約(TFEU)第102条に反していることから、差止命令の申立ては却下されるべきと主張した。特に、Huawei対ZTE事件 [93] でEU司法裁判所(CJEU)が示した行動要件(Huwaei決定又はフレームワーク)をシャープが遵守していなかった点について主張した。 裁判所は、ダイムラーによるFRAND宣言を理由とする抗弁を却下し、ダイムラーが自社サプライヤー由来のFRAND抗弁に依拠することはできないと認定した [94]

市場支配力の濫用

裁判所によれば、特許保有者が支配的地位に付帯する「特段の責任」を果たすための「十分な努力」を怠った上、原則として「ライセンスを取得する意向である」実施者との契約締結を推進した場合、SEPの行使による市場支配的地位の濫用が生じうる [95] 。ただし、この場合、権利保有者の許諾を得ることなく保護対象の技術を既に使用している実施者がFRAND条件でライセンスを取得する意向でなければならない [96] 。裁判所は、SEP保有者が規格実施者にライセンス取得の「強要」を求めることはできないと説明した [96]

上記を踏まえ、裁判所は、シャープが本件訴訟を提起したことはTFEU第102条に定められる濫用にあたらないと認めた [97] 。裁判所は、シャープが市場支配的地位を有していたか否かについては確証せず、本件においては有していたと想定するに留めた [97] 。それにもかかわらず、(想定された)支配的地位の濫用が認められなかったのは、ダイムラーがシャープのSEPポートフォリオにかかわるライセンスの取得することについて十分に明確な意欲を表明しなかったためである [98]
 

Willingness

裁判所は、「実際にいかなるFRAND条件であろうと」、実施者がSEP保有者とのライセンス契約を締結し、爾後、「目標志向」の方法でライセンス協議に従事する誠実意思を有する場合、これを「明確に」かつ「疑義のないよう」宣言しなければならないと説明した(引用判例、連邦司法裁判所、2020年5月5日判決、Sisvel対Haier、事件番号KZR 36/17、及び英国高等法院、2017年4月5日判決、事件番号[2017] EWHC 711(Pat) – Unwired Planet対Huawei) [96]

つまり、実施者は、ライセンス協議を遅延させてはならない [99] 。裁判所の見地からすると、特許で保護された標準化技術を協議前に既に利用している実施者はその特許が満了するまでライセンス契約の締結を遅延させる単独の利益又は優勢な利益を有しているため、遅延させてはならない点が特に重要である [99]

その上で、裁判所は、ダイムラーが「誠実意思を有する」実施者としてふるまっていなかったと認定した [98]

シャープへのカウンターオファー前のダイムラーの行動を見た上で、裁判所は、「明確な」誠実意思の宣言が欠落していたと判示した [100] 。2019年6月7日のシャープに対する最初の回答で、ダイムラーは、シャープの特許が使用されている場合でも、ライセンス協議に関する一般的な意思を超える確約をするとの表明を一切しなかった [101] 。さらに言えば、2019年7月23日付のダイムラーの書簡では、ダイムラーは、シャープに対して自社のサプライヤー(特定しないで)に差し向け、シャープがサプライヤーにライセンスを許諾する義務を負っていると主張しており、適切な誠実意思が宣言されていなかった [102] 。2019年9月18日の陳述書でも、ダイムラーは、自社のサプライヤーに委ねるとし、かつ、ライセンスオファーに必要な情報をシャープに提供することを拒絶していた [103] 。裁判所は、シャープから要請される情報を提供する法的義務はないが、ダイムラーがその提供を拒絶したことで、「目標志向」で協議に従事しなかっただけでなく、当該協議を遅延させることがねらいであったことが明らかになった点に着目した [104] 。これは、ダイムラーの回答がシャープの要請の都度およそ6週間後に行われていた事実からも確認されている。裁判所は、ダイムラーが回答に時間を要した理由を確認しなかった [104]

さらに、裁判所は、ダイムラーの「誠実意思を有しない」実施者としての行為は、Avanciプラットフォームとの協議でのダイムラーの全体的な態度からも明らかであると事実認定した [105] 。裁判所は、FRAND宣言を理由とする抗弁を申し立てる実施者の「誠実意思」を評価するにあたっては、時機的に、権利侵害通知受領後直接に発生した事実のみならず、全体的な行為を考慮に入れなければならないと判示した [106] 。誠実意思評価の基準は、特許保有者が先に実施者に接近したか、実施者が主導してライセンスを求めたかの「やや行き当たりばったりの」事実に依拠するものであってはならない [107] 。Huawei判決において示された義務(そのひとつが、ライセンス取得の「誠実意思」を表明することにより権利侵害通知に反応すること)は、原則としてCJEUの命令において「措置」として従うべきものであるが、両当事者の行動上例外が認められ、かつ、Huaweiフレームワークの純粋な「形式的」見解が適切でないと思われる場合には、ケースバイケースで例外を認めなければならない [108] 。裁判所によれば、ダイムラーが2016年9月以後Avanciと接触しており、いずれの時間的段階においてもライセンス取得の意向を表明していないことから、本件はその例外に該当した [109]

さらに裁判所は、2019年12月17日付のダイムラーによるカウンターオファーについて、権利侵害訴訟提起後になされたものに過ぎず、意向表明の欠如を是正することにならないと認定した [110] 。裁判所の見解によれば、本件において係属中の訴訟手続の停止についてシャープに同意が求め後カウンターオファーがなされた事実は、ダイムラーが専ら遅延を生じさせようとして行ったことを示しており、よって、当該カウンターオファーはその時点までにダイムラーが示していた「明らかな意向の欠如」を補うに値するものでなかった [111] 。この点に関し、裁判所は、審理が進むにつれ厳格さが増す要件が求められるが、係属中の訴訟手続中、(カウンターオファー等により)不備を是正する機会が原則として与えられていると述べた [112] 。 さらに裁判所は、ダイムラーのカウンターオファーが内容の点で、「実際にいかなるFRAND条件であろうと」ライセンスを取得する意向を表明するものでなかったと強調した [113] 。ロイヤルティ計算に異なる複数の「基準」を用いることで、ダイムラーは、シャープからオファーされたか、Avanciが競業者をとりまとめたオファーののごく一部のみについてカウンターオファーを行い、カウンターオファーの拒絶が「論理上必要」となるように仕向けていた [114]

この流れにおいて、裁判所は、意向の評価にはダイムラーの態度のみが関係すると明言した [115] 。さらに、ダイムラーは、差止命令を回避するために、訴訟に参加していたサプライヤーがシャープからライセンスを取得する意向を有していたとする「主張」には依拠することができなかった [116] 。よって、裁判所は、ダイムラーのサプライヤーが実際に「誠実意思を有するライセンシー」として行為していたかどうか調査しなかった [116]

非差別性/ライセンス許諾レベル

上記に加え、裁判所は、シャープがエンドデバイスメーカーであるダイムラーのみにライセンス取得を求めることにより、濫用的又は非差別的に行動していたのではなかったと説示した [117] 。 裁判所の見解では、シャープはダイムラーのサプライヤーにライセンスを許諾する義務を負っていなかった [118] 。(ドイツの)自動車業界においては自動車メーカーにコンポーネントを販売するサプライヤーが当該コンポーネントに関するライセンスを取得するのが一般的であるとはいえ、シャープがその慣行を尊重し、受け入れる義務を負うものではない [119] 。反対に、ダイムラーは、自社製品での無線通信技術の利用度が増す限り、その分野で一般的な、エンドデバイスメーカーへもライセンスを許諾するという慣行を受け入れなければならない [119]

上記にかかわらず、シャープは、コンポーネントメーカーにライセンスを許諾する法的義務を一切負っていない。シャープが負っているのは、自社のSEPがカバーする規格への「アクセス権」を付与する義務である [120] 。特許保有者がETSIに確約することにより、SEPのライセンスを第三者に許諾する義務が生じる [121] 41。しかしながら裁判所は、これにより、バリューチェーンのあらゆるレベルでライセンスを許諾する義務が必ずしも生じるわけではないことを強調した [122] 。そのような義務は、競争法又は特許法若しくはETSIのFRAND規約に対する契約法のいずれからも生じない [122] 。 特に、EU競争法では、バリューチェーンのあらゆるレベルでSEPのライセンスを許諾する義務を定めていない [123] 。裁判所によれば、特許保有者は原則として、バリューチェーンのどのレベルをライセンス許諾の対象とするか、自由裁量により選択することができる [124] 。Huawei判決において、CJEUは、FRAND引受けにより、特許保有者からライセンスを許諾される第三者の側に「正当な期待」が生じると指摘した。しかしながら裁判所は、これにより、エンドデバイスメーカーの全サプライヤーにライセンスを許諾する義務が生じるものではないと判示した。市場へのアクセスに必要とされるのは、必ずしもライセンスではなく、「法的に使用できること」である。これは例えばバリューチェーンの最終レベルで付与されるライセンス等を通じて与えられ、サプライヤーはこれに基づき「have-made-rights製造委託権」下で製造することができる [124]

また裁判所は、特許法においても、バリューチェーンの中でSEPライセンスが付与されるべきレベルは定められていないと説明した同判決、paras. 173節以下。。とりわけ、SEPポートフォリオに含まれる特許のすべてが常にコンポーネントメーカーのレベルで消尽するわけではないという事実が、(この場合に見込まれるライセンス料のより効率的な「管理」に加え)エンドデバイスレベルでのライセンス許諾の正当性を示している [126]

最後に、裁判所は、ETSIのFRAND規定は、契約法によって利害関係者たるすべての第三者にライセンスを許諾する義務が特許保有者に課すものではない旨を指摘した [127] 。適用されるフランス法に基づき、ETSI IPRポリシー第6.1条は、ライセンスを求める当事者との間でFRAND契約について協議する義務のみが課されると理解される [128] 。ただし、「装置」に言及した場合、本規定は、すべてのコンポーネントが必ずしも規格全体を実装するわけではないことから、エンドデバイスメーカーにのみ対応することとなる [129] 。裁判所の見地において、以前別の事例において欧州委員会が示した見解に拠っても、別の結論が導き出されることはない同判決、第180~183節。裁判所は、とりわけ、欧州委員会の決定(事件番号AT.39985 – Motorola)、水平的協力協定へのTFEU第101条の適用に関するガイドラインの通達(2011/C 11/01)、及びデジタル単一市場へのICT標準化優先性の通達(COM(2016) 176確定版)に言及した。

サプライヤーのFRAND宣言を理由とする抗弁

さらに裁判所は、サプライヤーによりなされたFRAND宣言を理由とする抗弁をダイムラーが利用することはできないと認めた [131] 。被告がそのような抗弁に依拠できるのは、特許保有者がサプライヤーにライセンスを許諾する義務を負っている場合に限られる。ただし、被告自らが、関連するバリューチェーンでの特許消尽を十分に考慮しSEP保有者との間でライセンス契約を締結する立場にある場合、上記の定めは適用されない [131]

裁判所は、本件がこれにあたるとみなした。ダイムラーのサプライヤーは、シャープに対しライセンスの許諾を請求する権利を有しておらず、標準化技術に対し「法的に保護されたアクセス権」を請求する権利を有していた。これをダイムラーに有利になるよう考慮することはできない [132]
 

C. その他の問題

さらに、裁判所は、比例性の原則(proportionality considerations)に基づくシャープの差止命令請求を制限する根拠はないと裁定した [133] 。ダイムラーは、自社製造の自動車が多数のコンポーネントを組み込んだ「複雑」な製品であり、シャープのSEPに関係するテレマティクス制御ユニットは当該自動車にとって重要性が低いとして、係争中の特許に基づき差止命令が下されるべきでないと論じた。

裁判所は、比例性がドイツ法において、原告から異議が申し立てられる都度検討される、憲法と同等の順位を有する一般原則であり、差止命令による救済手段に関しても考慮される旨を明言した [134] 。連邦裁判所の判例によれば、差止命令は、例外的に、信義則に反する特許保有者の正当化できない排他権で、実施者が不都合を被るおそれがあると即時に執行されない場合があり、 [135] 。 裁判所の見地から、差止命令による救済を求める権利の制限が問題になるのは「ごくわずかな例外的な事例」であることから、その制限に際しては、厳格な条件を定め、特に「法秩序」のみならず「法的な確実性及び予測可能性」を保護しなければならない [136] 。関係事実すべてをケースバイケースで評価する必要がある一方で、実体的及び手続上の包括的なフレームワーク(最初の差止命令の執行を求める場合の供託金差出しの必要性を含む)についても検討する必要がある [136]

裁判所は、差止命令により通常もたらされる結果を超える不都合のみが考慮の対象となりうることを説明した [136] 。権利侵害者には、可能な限り早急にライセンス契約を締結するよう努力し、かつ、遅くとも権利侵害通知受領後、見込まれる差止命令に対する予防措置を講じることが求められる [136]

この背景を鑑み、裁判所は、本件において、対象となるのがダイムラーの自動車に含まれる単一のコンポーネントのみであったとしても、複雑な特許ポートフォリオ(シャープのポートフォリオか、Avanciのポートフォリオかを問わない)に基づくライセンス許諾を巡り紛争が展開されると述べた [137] 。「コネクテッドカー」を参照する技術革新の重大部分は技術的・経済的双方の観点においてモバイル通信技術と密接に関連していることから、シャープの特許により実装された機能がダイムラーの車両にとってさほど重要でないとの反論は、裁判所を説得する材料とならなかった [138] 。最後に裁判所は、ダイムラーがシャープ又はAvanciのいずれともライセンス契約を締結すべく真摯な努力を尽くさなかったとして批判した [139]

  • [89] シャープ対ダイムラー、ミュンヘン地方裁判所、2020年9月10日判決、事件番号7O8818/19(https://www.gesetze-bayern.de/Content/Document/Y-300-Z-BECKRS-B-2020-N-22577?hl=trueから引用)
  • [90] 同判決、第68節以下。
  • [91] 同判決、第 25節以下。
  • [92] 同判決、第90節。
  • [93] Huawei対ZTE、EU司法裁判所、2015年7月16日判決、事件番号C-170/13
  • [94] シャープ対ダイムラー、ミュンヘン地方裁判所、2020年9月10日判決、事件番号7O8818/19第121節。
  • [95] 同判決、第124節。
  • [96] 同判決、第125節。
  • [97] 同判決、第128節。
  • [98] 同判決、第130節以下。
  • [99] 同判決、第126節。
  • [100] 同判決、第132節以下。
  • [101] 同判決、第134節以下。
  • [102] 同判決、第136節以下。
  • [103] 同判決、第138節以下。
  • [104] 同判決、第140節。
  • [105] 同判決、第141節。
  • [106] 同判決、第142節以下。
  • [107] 同判決、第143節以下。
  • [108] 同判決、第144節。
  • [109] 同判決、第146~149節。
  • [110] 同判決、第150節。
  • [111] 同判決、第151及び153節。
  • [112] 同判決、第152節。
  • [113] 同判決、第154節。
  • [114] 同判決、第154節以下。
  • [115] 同判決、第158節及び159節。
  • [116] 同判決、第158節。
  • [117] 同判決、第161節以下。
  • [118] 同判決、第162節。
  • [119] 同判決、第164節。
  • [120] 同判決、第165節。
  • [121] 同判決、第168節。
  • [122] 同判決、第169節。
  • [123] 同判決、第170節以下。
  • [124] 同判決、第171節。
  • [125] 同判決、paras. 173節以下。
  • [126] 同判決、第174節。
  • [127] 同判決、第175節以下。
  • [128] 同判決、第177節以下。
  • [129] 同判決、第178節。
  • [130] 同判決、第180~183節。裁判所は、とりわけ、欧州委員会の決定(事件番号AT.39985 – Motorola)、水平的協力協定へのTFEU第101条の適用に関するガイドラインの通達(2011/C 11/01)、及びデジタル単一市場へのICT標準化優先性の通達(COM(2016) 176確定版)に言及した。
  • [131] 同判決、第167節。
  • [132] 同判決、第185節。
  • [133] 同判決、第92~102節。
  • [134] 同判決、第93節。
  • [135] 同判決、第94節。
  • [136] 同判決、第95節。
  • [137] 同判決、第97節以下。
  • [138] 同判決、第100節以下。
  • [139] 同判決、第99節。

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, [308] 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. [309] The court declared the Huawei rules applicable to claims for the recall of products. [310]
      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. [311] 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. [312] In non-transitional cases, however, the court doubts whether it is possible to rectify an omitted infringement notification without withdrawing the action. [313]
      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. [314]
      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. [315] 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. [316]
      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. [317] 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. [318] 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. [319]
      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. [320]
      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. [321]
    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. [322] Whether the Intervener satisfied the ECJ criteria was left undecided. [323]
      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. [324] 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. [325] 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. [326]
      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. [327] 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. [328]
      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. [329] 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. [330]
  3. Other important issues
    According to the court, the Huawei requirements apply to both non-practicing entities and other market participants. [331]
    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. [332]
    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. [333]
  • [308] 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.
  • [309] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 184
  • [310] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 187
  • [311] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 195 et seq.
  • [312] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 208-210
  • [313] Case No. 4a O 126/14, para. IV, 3, a, bb, 2, c
  • [314] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 193
  • [315] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 270 et seq.
  • [316] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 222 et seq.
  • [317] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 225 et seq.
  • [318] 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.
  • [319] 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.
  • [320] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 256 et seq.
  • [321] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 279 et seq.
  • [322] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 214-220
  • [323] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 214-220; 278
  • [324] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 266
  • [325] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 185 et seq.; 262 et seq.
  • [326] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 264.
  • [327] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 291 et seq.
  • [328] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 278
  • [329] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 267 et seq.; 299 et seq.
  • [330] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 304
  • [331] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 189
  • [332] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 309-313
  • [333] Case No. 4a O 73/14, para. 317 et seq.

Updated 7 4月 2021

Sisvel v Wiko

OLG Karlsruhe
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). [235] 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 [236] (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 [237] .
 

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. [238]

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. [239] 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. [240]
 

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. [241]

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. [242] 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. [243] In terms of content, the notification must identify the patent infringed, the form of infringement and also designate the infringing embodiments. [243] Detailed technical or legal analysis of the infringement allegation is not required. [243] The production of so-called 'claim charts', which is common in practice, will, as a rule, suffice, but is not mandatory. [243] If the patent holder offers a portfolio licence, respective extended information duties occur. [243]

In the present case, it was not disputed that Sisvel had notified Wiko about the patent-in-suit prior to litigation. [244] As far as Wiko complained that no claim charts were presented before trial, the Court reiterated that no respective obligation of Sisvel existed. [245] 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. [244]
 

Willingness to obtain a licence

The Court then found that Wiko behaved as an unwilling (potential) licensee both prior and during the infringement proceedings [246] . 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. [247]

According to the Court, the 'expression of a general willingness to license' is not sufficient for assuming that an implementer is a 'willing licensee'. [248] Moreover, the implementer must 'clearly and unambiguously' declare willingness to conclude a license agreement on FRAND terms, 'whatever FRAND terms may actually look like" [248] . The respective declaration must be 'serious and unconditional'. [248]

The Court highlighted that for the assessment of willingness the overall facts and the particular conduct of the implementer shall be taken into account. [248] Willingness is not 'static': the finding that an implementer was willing (or unwilling) at a certain moment in time does not remain unchanged henceforth. [248]

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. [249] 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. [250] 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. [250]

In the view of the Court, the above requirements are in line with the Huawei v ZTE judgment (Huawei judgment or Huawei) [251] of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU). [252] 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. [253]

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. [254] Such behaviour could be justified in individual cases, especially when the SEP holder does not act in a 'target-oriented' manner itself. [254] Nevertheless, implementers must, as a rule, react timely even to a belated action of the SEP holder. [254] 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. [254]

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. [255] A willing implementer would have, however, sought a licence independently of the initiation of legal steps and independently of the course of litigation. [256] 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. [257] 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). [258]

The Court identified also further facts that indicate that Wiko engaged in delaying tactics. [259] 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) [260] . It also demanded further claim charts in February 2018, years after the action was filed. [261]

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. [262] 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. [263] 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. [264]

Furthermore, the Court clarified that -contrary to Wiko's view- school holidays and/or staff shortages cannot provide sufficient justification for delays in negotiations. [265] Even if such circumstances occur, a willing implementer would have communicated any obstacles immediately. [265] 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. [266] In fact, no such duty had arisen in the present case, due to Wiko's unwillingness to obtain a licence. [266] 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. [267] As a rule, FRAND is determined in bilateral good faith negotiations between SEP holders and implementers, taking into account the specific circumstances of each individual case [267] ; indeed, parties are best situated to determine the exact content of FRAND in a specific setting. [267]

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'. [268] 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. [269] 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. [270]

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. [271] The SEP holder's FRAND commitment does not give rise to such obligation. [271] 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. [271] 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. [272]

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. [272] 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. [273] 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. [274]

Against this background, the Court found that none of the offers made to Wiko during the infringement proceedings was 'clearly and evidently' non-FRAND. [275] 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. [276] 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. [277] 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. [278]

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. [279] On the other hand, Wiko had worldwide activities, so that a licence with a limited scope would not provide sufficient coverage. [279]

The fact that some of the patents included in Sisvel's portfolio were -allegedly- not standard-essential did not render the offers 'un-FRAND'. [280] 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. [281] Implementers can reserve the right to challenge the validity and essentiality of affected patents even after the conclusion of a licensing agreement. [281]

Similarly, the Court had no objections against a clause placing the burden of proof with regard to the exhaustion of licenced patents on Wiko. [282] 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. [283]

The question whether an adjustment clause is necessary for an offer to be considered FRAND was left unanswered by the Court. [284] 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. [284] The Court did not express any concerns against the term of the offered licence or the termination clauses contained therein, either. [285]

Furthermore, the Court made clear that Sisvel had adequately elaborated the licensing rates offered to Wiko. [286] In the infringement proceedings, Sisvel responded to the 'top-down' calculation of Wiko in detail and made relevant clarifications. [287] 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. [288]
 

Implementers' counteroffer

The Court also found that the counteroffers made by Wiko during the course of the first instance infringement proceedings were not FRAND. [289]

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. [290]

Having said that, the Court took the view that the royalty rates which Wiko offered were very low and, thus, not FRAND-compliant. [291] 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. [292] 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. [293] 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. [294]
 

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. [295] This is particularly true, when the SEP holder takes the respective initiative, as it was the case here. [295] 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. [295] The refusal of the infringer to act accordingly could, in the eyes of the Court, allow the conclusion that it is an unwilling licensee. [295]

Apart from that, the Court confirmed that Wiko had no legal ground for requesting full disclosure of Sisvel's third party agreements [296] . 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. [297] 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. [298]

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. [299]

Finally, the Court denied Wiko's motion to order a stay in the appeal proceedings due to the recent referral of several questions regarding the interpretation of the Huawei framework to the CJEU by the District Court of Düsseldorf in the matter Nokia v Daimler [300] . [301] 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. [302]
 

  • [235] The action was extended to a third defendant, an individual person, who had served as a managing director for both aforementioned companies.
  • [236] Sisvel v Wiko, Higher Regional Court Karlsruhe, judgment dated 9 December 2020, Case-No. 6 U 103/19
  • [237] 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.
  • [238] Ibid, para. 289.
  • [239] Ibid, paras. 284 et seqq.
  • [240] Ibid, para. 287.
  • [241] 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.
  • [242] Ibid, paras. 292 et seqq.
  • [243] Ibid, para. 293.
  • [244] Ibid, para. 297.
  • [245] Ibid, paras. 297 et seq.
  • [246] Ibid, para. 299.
  • [247] Ibid, para. 299 and paras. 320 et seqq.
  • [248] Ibid, para. 301.
  • [249] Ibid, para. 302.
  • [250] Ibid, para. 303.
  • [251] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case-No. C-170/13.
  • [252] Sisvel v Wiko, Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe, judgment dated 9 December 2020, para. 304.
  • [253] Ibid, para. 304.
  • [254] Ibid, para. 305.
  • [255] Ibid, paras. 321 et seqq.
  • [256] Ibid, para. 321.
  • [257] Ibid, para. 322.
  • [258] Ibid, paras. 323 et seq.
  • [259] 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).
  • [260] Ibid, paras. 325, 328 and 331.
  • [261] Ibid, para. 327.
  • [262] Ibid, paras. 333 et seqq.
  • [263] Ibid, paras. 334 and 338.
  • [264] Ibid, paras. 337 and 341 et seqq.
  • [265] Ibid, para. 330.
  • [266] Ibid, para. 342.
  • [267] Ibid, para. 307.
  • [268] Ibid, para. 308.
  • [269] Ibid, paras. 308 and 310.
  • [270] Ibid, para. 309.
  • [271] Ibid, para. 310.
  • [272] Ibid, paras. 311 et seqq.
  • [273] Ibid, paras. 311 and 313 et seqq.
  • [274] Ibid, paras. 316 et seqq.
  • [275] Ibid, para. 352.
  • [276] Ibid, para. 353.
  • [277] Ibid, paras. 354 et seqq.
  • [278] Ibid, para. 358.
  • [279] Ibid, para. 359.
  • [280] Ibid, para. 360.
  • [281] Ibid, para. 361.
  • [282] Ibid, para. 362.
  • [283] Ibid, para. 363.
  • [284] Ibid, paras. 365 et seqq.
  • [285] Ibid, paras. 367 et seqq.
  • [286] Ibid, para. 366.
  • [287] Ibid, para. 344.
  • [288] Ibid, para. 346.
  • [289] Ibid, paras. 379 et seqq.
  • [290] Ibid, para. 311.
  • [291] Ibid, paras. 379 et seqq.
  • [292] Ibid, para. 380.
  • [293] Ibid, para. 378.
  • [294] Ibid, para. 384.
  • [295] Ibid, para. 348.
  • [296] Ibid, para. 389.
  • [297] Ibid, paras. 389 et seq.
  • [298] Ibid, para. 391.
  • [299] Ibid, paras. 260 et seqq.
  • [300] Nokia v Daimler, District Court of Düsseldorf, order dated 26 November 2020, Case No. 4c O 17/19.
  • [301] Sisvel v Wiko, Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe, judgment dated 9 December 2020, para. 395.
  • [302] Ibid, para. 395.

Updated 20 10月 2020

Sisvel v Wiko

LG Mannheim
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 [421] 、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 [422] 。係争中の特許の必須性は、両当事者間で争われなかった [423]

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 [424] 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 [425] 。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 [426] 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 [427]

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 [427] 。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 [427]

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) [428] とハーグ控訴裁判所(Philips対Asus) [429] 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 [430] 。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 [431]

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 [432] 。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 [432] 。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 [432] 。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 [432]

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 [433]

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 [434] 。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 [435] 。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 [434] 。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 [428]

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 [436] 。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 [437] 。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 [438]

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 [439] 。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 [439] 。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 [439] 。 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 [440] 。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 [440]

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 [441]

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 [441]

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 [441] 。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 [441] 。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 [441]

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 [438]

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 [438] 。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 [438]

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 [438]

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 [442] 。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 [442] 。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 [443]

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 [444] 。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 [444]

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 [445] 。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 [446] 。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 [446]

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 [443] 。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 [443] 。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 [443] 。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 [443] 。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 [443]

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 [447]

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 [443] 。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 [427]

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 [423] 。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 [423] 。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 [447] 。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 [447]


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 [448]

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 [448] 。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 [449]

  • [421] 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。
  • [422] 同判決、17~31頁。
  • [423] 同判決、46頁。
  • [424] Huawei対ZTE、EU司法裁判所2015年7月16日判決、事件番号C-170/13。
  • [425] 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。
  • [426] 同判決、43頁及び51頁以下。
  • [427] 同判決、42頁。
  • [428] Unwired Planet対Huawei、英国控訴院2018年10月23日判決、[2018] EWCA Civ 2344、第282節。
  • [429] 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。
  • [430] 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。
  • [431] 同判決、44頁。
  • [432] 同判決、37頁。
  • [433] 同判決、47頁及び53頁。
  • [434] 同判決、38頁。
  • [435] 同判決、37頁。以下。
  • [436] 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。
  • [437] 同判決、39頁。
  • [438] 同判決、40頁。
  • [439] 同判決、53頁。
  • [440] 同判決、54頁。
  • [441] 同判決、55頁。
  • [442] 同判決、40頁及び49頁。
  • [443] 同判決、41頁。
  • [444] 同判決、49頁。
  • [445] 同判決、50頁。
  • [446] 同判決、51頁。
  • [447] 同判決、47頁。
  • [448] 同判決、35頁。
  • [449] 同判決、35頁以下。

Updated 12 3月 2019

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (MPEG-LA) v ZTE

LG Düsseldorf
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) [452] . 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) [453] .

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 [454] .

MPEG LA uses a standard licensing agreement, which is publicly available at its website [455] . It has signed licensing agreements with approx. 1,400 implementers [455] .

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) [456] .

On 15 September 2011, the parent company asked MPEG LA to send any relevant documents by mail to its IPR Manager [457] . A copy of MPEG LA’s standard licensing agreement reached the parent company in late September 2011 [458] .

In 2012, the parent company acquired patents included in the MPEG LA pool [453] .

Since MPEG-LA and the parent company could not reach an agreement on a licence covering the MPEG LA pool [459] , 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 [460] .

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 [461] . 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 [462] . 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 [463] .

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 [464] . 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 [465] (Huawei obligations or framework) with respect to dominant undertakings [466] .

1. Dominant market position

The Court found that the Claimant holds a dominant market position in terms of Article 102 TFEU [467] .

The Court defined the relevant market for the assessment of dominance as the market for licences for any given patent [468] . A dominant market position can further also exist, when the patent holder can hinder competition in downstream markets for standard-compliant products and services [468] .

The Court made, however, clear that ownership of a SEP does not per se establish market dominance [469] . A dominant market position is given, when the use of the SEP is required for entering the market [469] . The same is true, if the patent user could not market competitive products or services, without access to the respective SEP [469] .

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 [470] .

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 [471] . 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) [472] . 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 [473] .

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 [474] . 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 [475] ), since with respect to the SEP in suit a ‘routine’ practice already existed prior to the Huawei judgement [476] . The Court explained that the Huawei judgment does not contain either an explicit or an implicit limitation of its scope of application [477] . 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 [478] . 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 [479] . 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 [480] .

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 [481] .

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 [482] .

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 [483] . The sole fact that a company belongs to a group justifies such an assumption, unless indications to the contrary exist [483] . 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) [484] . 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 [485] . 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 [486] . 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 [487] .

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 [488] . 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 [489] . A notification of infringement is, therefore, not necessary, when it constitutes just a ‘pointless formality’ [489] . 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 [489] . The respective test is, however, subject to strict conditions [489] .

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) [490] . 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) [491] , 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 [492] .

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 [493] .

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 [494] . The implementer is not required to refer to a specific licensing agreement [494] .

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 [495] .

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 [496] .

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 [497] . 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 [498] . Whether subsidiaries can (or should) also be licensed, will be the object of these negotiations [499] . 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 [500] . 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 [501] .

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 [502] . 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 [503] .

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 [504] . 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) [505] . 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 [505] . 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 [505] . 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 [506] .

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 [507] . 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 [507] . 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 [508] .

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 [509] . 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 [509] . 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 [509] . In this respect, comparable agreements can serve as an ‘important indicator’ of the fair and reasonable character of the offered royalty rates [509] .

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 [510] . 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 [510] . 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 [511] . 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 [511] .

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 [512] . In the electronics and mobile communications industries, licences covering a group of companies are in line with the industry practice [513] . 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 [514] .

In addition, the Court made clear that pool licences, as the one offered to the parent company, are appropriate under the Huawei framework [515] . An offer for a pool licence cannot per se be seen as abusive (Article 101 TFEU) [516] . 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 [516] .

Implementer’s counter-offer

The Court found that the Defendant failed to make a FRAND counter-offer [517] .

Sending signed copies of MPEG LA’s standard licensing agreement back to MPEG LA can be regarded as a counter-offer [518] . 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 [519] . 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 [520] .

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 [521] .

  • [452] Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (MPEG-LA) v ZTE, District Court of Düsseldorf, judgement dated 9 November 2018, cited by www.nrwe.de, para. 56.
  • [453] Ibid, para. 58
  • [454] Ibid, para. 57
  • [455] Ibid, para. 59
  • [456] Ibid, paras. 61 et seqq. and 340
  • [457] Ibid, para. 65
  • [458] Ibid, para. 66
  • [459] Ibid, para. 73
  • [460] Ibid, para. 42
  • [461] bid, para. 74
  • [462] Ibid, paras. 75 et seq
  • [463] Ibid, para. 75
  • [464] Ibid, paras. 127 – 254
  • [465] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13
  • [466] Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (MPEG-LA) v ZTE, District Court of Düsseldorf, judgement dated 9 November 2018, cited by www.nrwe.de, Ibid, para. 280
  • [467] Ibid, para. 283 and paras. 291 et seqq
  • [468] Ibid, para. 286
  • [469] Ibid, para. 287
  • [470] Ibid, paras. 291 et seqq
  • [471] Ibid, para. 296
  • [472] Ibid, para. 300
  • [473] Ibid, para. 302
  • [474] Ibid, para. 308
  • [475] 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
  • [476] Ibid, para. 305
  • [477] Ibid, paras. 306 et seqq
  • [478] Ibid, para. 310
  • [479] Ibid, para. 311
  • [480] Ibid, para. 312
  • [481] Ibid, para. 421
  • [482] Ibid, para. 314
  • [483] Ibid, para. 320
  • [484] Ibid, para. 318
  • [485] Ibid, para. 329
  • [486] Ibid, paras. 336 et seq
  • [487] Ibid, para. 338
  • [488] Ibid, para. 198
  • [489] Ibid, para. 315
  • [490] Ibid, paras. 340 et seq
  • [491] Ibid, paras. 342 et seqq
  • [492] Ibid, para. 344
  • [493] Ibid, para. 346
  • [494] Ibid, para. 348
  • [495] Ibid, para. 352
  • [496] Ibid, para. 367
  • [497] Ibid, para. 369
  • [498] Ibid, para. 370
  • [499] Ibid, para. 378
  • [500] Ibid, para. 371
  • [501] Ibid, para. 374
  • [502] Ibid, para. 376
  • [503] Ibid, para. 377
  • [504] Ibid, para. 380
  • [505] Ibid, para. 381
  • [506] Ibid, para. 386
  • [507] Ibid, para. 382
  • [508] Ibid, para. 387
  • [509] Ibid, para. 391
  • [510] Ibid, para. 392
  • [511] Ibid, para. 393
  • [512] Ibid, para. 397
  • [513] Ibid, para. 398
  • [514] Ibid, para. 399
  • [515] Ibid, para. 402
  • [516] Ibid, para. 404
  • [517] Ibid, para. 410
  • [518] Ibid, para. 413
  • [519] Ibid, para. 416
  • [520] Ibid, para. 417
  • [521] Ibid, para. 411

Updated 9 11月 2020

Nokia対Daimler、マンハイム地方裁判所

LG Mannheim
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 [488] 、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 [489] 。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 [490]

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 [491] (「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 [492]

 

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 [493] 。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 [493]

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 [494] 。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 [495] 。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 [495] 。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 [496]

 

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 [497] 。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 [498]

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 [497] 。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 [497] 。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) [497] 。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 [499]

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 [500] 。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 [501]

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 [502] 。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 [502]

 

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 [503]

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) [504] 。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 [505] 。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 [504]

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 [504] 。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 [504]

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 [506] 。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 [507]

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 [508] 。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 [509]

 

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 [510]

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 [511] 。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 [511]

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 [512] 。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 [512] 。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 [513] 。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 [513]

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 [513] 。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 [513] 。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 [513] 。 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 [514] 。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 [514]

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 [515] 。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 [516] 。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 [517] 。接続機能はこの価値創出の機会を保証するものである [518] 。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 [519]

 

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 [520]

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 [521] 。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 [521] 。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 [521] 。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 [522]

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 [523] 。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 [524] 。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 [525] 。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 [526]

 

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 [527]

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 [528] 。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 [528] 。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 [528]

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 [529] 。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 [530] 。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 [530]

 

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 [531]

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 [532] 。本訴訟はこのような状況でなかった [533]

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 [534] 。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 [534]

 

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 [535] 。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 [536]

  • [488] 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))
  • [489] 同判決、第49節乃至第136節。
  • [490] 同判決、第138節。
  • [491] 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)
  • [492] 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)
  • [493] 同判決、第146節。
  • [494] 同判決、第147節。
  • [495] 同判決、第148節。
  • [496] 同判決、第149節。
  • [497] 同判決、第152節。
  • [498] 同判決、第151乃至第156節。
  • [499] 同判決、第248節。
  • [500] 同判決、第153節以降。
  • [501] 同判決、第154節。
  • [502] 同判決、第155節。
  • [503] 同判決、第157乃至第231節。
  • [504] 同判決、第158節。
  • [505] 同判決、第159節。
  • [506] 同判決、第161節。
  • [507] 同判決、第197乃至第199節。
  • [508] 同判決、第157節、第160節及び第162節乃至第164節。
  • [509] 同判決、第160及び第165節乃至第168節。
  • [510] 同判決、第169節。
  • [511] 同判決、第170節。
  • [512] 同判決、第171節。
  • [513] 同判決、第172節。
  • [514] 同判決、第173節。
  • [515] 同判決、第174節以降。
  • [516] 同判決、第174節。
  • [517] 同判決、第177節。
  • [518] 同判決、第180節。
  • [519] 同判決、第187節以降。
  • [520] 同判決、第201節乃至第212節。
  • [521] 同判決、第202節。
  • [522] 同判決、第203節。
  • [523] 同判決、第205節。
  • [524] 同判決、第210節。
  • [525] 同判決、第213節。
  • [526] 同判決、第215節。
  • [527] 同判決、第216節以降。
  • [528] 同判決、第217節。
  • [529] 同判決、第218節。
  • [530] 同判決、第230節。
  • [531] 同判決、第232節以降。
  • [532] 同判決、第234及び第236節以降。
  • [533] 同判決、第240節以降。
  • [534] 同判決、第239節。
  • [535] 同判決、第253及び第291節。
  • [536] 同判決、第291節。

Updated 2 8月 2019

Tagivan (MPEG-LA) v Huawei

LG Düsseldorf
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) [761] .

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 [762] .

MPEG LA uses a standard licensing agreement, which is publicly available at its website [763] . Since 2004, MPEG-LA has signed approx. 2,000 agreements with implementers [764] , 1,400 of which are still in force [763] .

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 [765] . On 15 September 2011, the parent company suggested to arrange a call on this issue [766] . 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 [767] .

In November 2013, the discussions between MPEG LA and the parent company ended without success [768] . The parties resumed negotiations in July 2016; again, no agreement was reached [768] .

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 [769] .

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 [770] .

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 [771] . Furthermore, the Defendant made a second counteroffer to the Claimant shortly after the last oral hearing before the Court [772] .

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

B. Court’s reasoning

The Court found that the patent in suit was valid [773] , standard essential [774] and infringed by the products sold by the Defendant in Germany [775] . 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 [776] (Huawei obligations or framework) with respect to dominant undertakings [777] .

Dominant market position

The Court found that the Claimant holds a dominant market position in terms of Article 102 TFEU [778] .

The Court defined the relevant market for the assessment of dominance as the market, in which licences for any given patent are offered [779] . A dominant market position can further also exist, when the patent holder can hinder competition in downstream markets for standard-compliant products and services [779] .

The Court made clear that ownership of a SEP does not per se establish market dominance [780] . A dominant market position is given, when the use of the SEP is required for entering the market [781] . The same is true, if the patent user could not market competitive products or services, without access to the respective SEP [782] .

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 [783] .

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 [784] . 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) [785] . 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 [786] .

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 [787] . 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 [788] ), 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 [789] . 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 [790] . 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 [790] . 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 [791] .

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 [792] .

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 [793] . The sole fact that a company belongs to a group justifies such an assumption, unless indications to the contrary exist [794] . 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) [795] . 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 [796] . 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 [797] .

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 [798] . 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 [798] . A notification of infringement is, therefore, not necessary, when it constitutes just a ‘pointless formality’ [798] . 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 [798] . The respective test is, however, subject to strict conditions [798] .

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) [799] . 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 [800] .

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 [801] .

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 [801] . This is sufficient under the Huawei framework: A general, informal statement suffices [802] . The implementer is not required to refer to a specific licensing agreement (on the contrary, this could be considered harmful under certain circumstances) [802] .

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 [803] .

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 [804] .

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 [805] .

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 [806] . 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 [807] . 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) [808] . 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 [808] . 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 [808] . 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 [809] .

Apart from the above, the Court held that the standard licensing agreement offered to the parent company was FRAND also in terms of content [810] .

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 [811] . 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 [811] . 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 [811] . In this respect, comparable agreements can serve as an ‘important indicator’ of the fair and reasonable character of the offered royalty rates [811] .

Non-discrimination

Regarding to the non-discriminatory element of FRAND, the Court pointed out that it applied only to similar situated cases [812] . Even then, an unequal treatment is allowed, as long as it is objectively justified [812] . 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 [812] . 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 [813] . 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 [813] .

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 [814] . 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 [815] . 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 [816] . 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) [817] .

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 [818] . 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) [819] . 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 [820] . Discounts can further hardly be discriminatory, if they are offered to every (potential) licensee under the same conditions [820] .

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) [821] . 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 [822] .

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 [823] .

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 [824] . 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 [824] .

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 [825] . 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 [826] . 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 [827] . What is more, the Defendant did not show that further licences are needed with respect to the AVC/H.264 standard [828] . 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 [829] .

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 [830] . This assumption is also confirmed by the fact that all existing licensees have accepted this clause [831] .

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) [832] . 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 [832] .

An offer for a pool licence can, nevertheless, violate FRAND in ‘special circumstances’ [833] , for instance, if not all patents included in the pool are used by the licensee [834] . 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 [835] . 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 [836] . 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) [836] .

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 [837] . The Defendant failed, however, to present any reliable evidence that this was the case with the MPEG-LA pool [838] .

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’) [839] . 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 [840] .

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 [841] . In the electronics and mobile communications industries, licences on a group level are in line with the industry practice and, therefore, FRAND-compliant [842] .

Implementer’s counteroffer

Having said that, the Court found that the Defendant failed to make a FRAND counteroffer [843] .

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 [844] . Furthermore, the counteroffer established different licensing rates for different regions (especially for China) without factual justification [845] .

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 [772] . On the contrary, the Court expressed the view that the purpose of this counteroffer was most likely to delay the infringement proceedings [772] .

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 [846] .

  • [761] Tagivan (MPEG-LA) v Huawei, District Court of Düsseldorf, 9 November 2018, para. 36.
  • [762] Ibid, para. 35.
  • [763] Ibid, para. 37.
  • [764] Ibid, para. 453.
  • [765] Ibid, para. 39.
  • [766] Ibid, para. 43.
  • [767] Ibid, para. 44.
  • [768] Ibid, para. 53.
  • [769] Ibid, para. 2.
  • [770] Ibid, para. 54.
  • [771] Ibid, para. 65.
  • [772] Ibid, para. 716.
  • [773] Ibid, paras. 143-208.
  • [774] Ibid, paras. 209-293.
  • [775] Ibid, paras. 295-302.
  • [776] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13.
  • [777] Tagivan (MPEG-LA) v Huawei, District Court of Düsseldorf, 9 November 2018, paras. 304 et seqq.
  • [778] Ibid, para. 307.
  • [779] Ibid, para. 310.
  • [780] 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.
  • [781] Ibid, paras. 310 et seq.
  • [782] Ibid, para. 311.
  • [783] Ibid, paras. 315 et seqq.
  • [784] Ibid, para. 321.
  • [785] Ibid, para. 326.
  • [786] Ibid, para. 327.
  • [787] Ibid, para. 330.
  • [788] 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.
  • [789] Ibid, paras. 331 et seqq.
  • [790] Ibid, para. 335.
  • [791] Ibid, para. 337.
  • [792] Ibid, para. 339.
  • [793] Ibid, para. 343.
  • [794] Ibid, para. 345.
  • [795] Ibid, para. 356.
  • [796] Ibid, paras. 357 et seqq.
  • [797] Ibid, paras. 366 et seqq.
  • [798] Ibid, para. 340.
  • [799] Ibid, para. 341.
  • [800] Ibid, paras. 395 et seqq.
  • [801] Ibid, paras. 400 et seqq.
  • [802] Ibid, para. 399.
  • [803] Ibid, para. 405.
  • [804] Ibid, paras. 411-417.
  • [805] Ibid, para. 419.
  • [806] Ibid, para. 421.
  • [807] Ibid, para. 425.
  • [808] Ibid, para. 422.
  • [809] Ibid, paras. 426 et seqq.
  • [810] Ibid, para. 429.
  • [811] Ibid, para. 431.
  • [812] Ibid, para. 432.
  • [813] Ibid, para. 433.
  • [814] Ibid, para. 438.
  • [815] Ibid, para. 443.
  • [816] Ibid, para. 444.
  • [817] Ibid, para. 445.
  • [818] Ibid, para. 579.
  • [819] Ibid, para. 582.
  • [820] Ibid, paras. 583 et seqq.
  • [821] Ibid, para. 564.
  • [822] Ibid, paras. 568 et seqq.
  • [823] Ibid, paras. 573 et seqq.
  • [824] Ibid, para. 451.
  • [825] Ibid, para. 449.
  • [826] Ibid, para. 454.
  • [827] Ibid, paras. 487 et seqq.
  • [828] Ibid, para. 491.
  • [829] Ibid, para. 495.
  • [830] Ibid, paras. 591 et seqq., particularly para. 596.
  • [831] Ibid. para. 597.
  • [832] Ibid. para. 504.
  • [833] Ibid. para. 508.
  • [834] Ibid. para. 514.
  • [835] Ibid. paras. 511 et seqq.
  • [836] Ibid. para. 524.
  • [837] Ibid, para. 528.
  • [838] Ibid, paras. 531-543.
  • [839] Ibid, paras. 545 et seqq.
  • [840] Ibid, para. 546.
  • [841] Ibid, para. 599.
  • [842] Ibid, para. 600.
  • [843] Ibid, para. 603.
  • [844] Ibid, paras. 605 et seqq.
  • [845] Ibid, paras. 617 et seqq.
  • [846] Ibid, para. 625.