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 10 4月 2019

Huawei 対 ZTE

CJEUの決定
16 7月 2015 - Case No. C-170/13

A. 内容

原告Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.は、欧州電気通信標準化機構(ETSI)が開発したLTEE無線通信規格(標準必須特許又はSEP)のプラクティスに関して必須のものとして宣言済みの特許を保有している [55] 。2009年3月、原告は、当該特許を実施者が公平、合理的かつ非差別的(Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory:FRAND)条件で利用できるようにすることをETSIに誓約した [56]

被告ZTE Corp.及びZTE Deutschland GmbHは、LTE規格にかかわる複数のSEPを保有しており [57] 、とりわけ、ドイツにおいては、LTE準拠製品の上市も行っている [58]

2010年11月から2011年3月の間、両当事者は、原告のSEPポートフォリオのライセンス許諾に関し協議していた [58] 。原告が合理的なロイヤルティとみなした金額を示したのに対し、被告は、クロスライセンス契約の締結を求めた [59] 。しかしながら、ライセンス契約の申出は決着しなかった [59]

2011年4月、原告は、被告を相手取り、差止命令、それまでの使用にかかわる計算書の提出、製品のリコール及び特許侵害にかかわる損害賠償を求めて、デュッセルドルフ地方裁判所(地方裁判所)に訴訟を提起した [60] [6]。

地方裁判所は、訴訟手続を停止し、EU機能条約(TFEU)第267条に基づく先決裁定を得るため欧州司法裁判所(CJEU)に付託した。簡潔に言えば、地方裁判所は、SEP保有者がSEP実施者に対する禁止的差止命令を求めて訴訟を提起することが支配的地位の濫用でありTFEU第102条に反するとの問題に関し、ドイツ連邦裁判所と欧州委員会が相反する立場を取っていると見られる点に着目した [61] 。オレンジブック判決において、ドイツ連邦裁判所は、SEPにかかわる権利侵害訴訟において、被告は、ライセンス契約締結にかかわる無条件かつ公正な申出を特許保有者に提示しており、過去の使用行為にかかわる計算書を提出しており、かつ、それにより生じるロイヤルティにつき保証金を支払っている限り、TFEU第102条に基づき防御する(それにより差止命令を回避する)権利を有すると判示した [62] 。これに対し、欧州委員会は、複数のEU加盟国においてサムスンがAppleを相手取り権利行使に関連して提起した訴訟において、特許保有者のFRAND誓約に従いFRAND条件でのライセンス契約について協議する意思を被告が実証している限り、SEPに関し差止命令による救済手段を求める訴訟が原則としてTFEU第102条違反になるとの見解を示した [63]

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

  • まず実施者に対し、「当該特許を指し示し、何が侵害にあたるのかを明示することにより」特許侵害を通知している。
  • 次に、申立てを受けた侵害者がFRAND条件でライセンス契約を締結する意思をあらわした場合、「当該条件でのライセンス申出について、とりわけ、そのロイヤルティ及び計算方法を明示した上で、当該侵害者に書面で明確に提示している」 [64]

これに対しSEP実施者は、特許保有者が禁止的差止命令又は製品リコールを求めた訴訟について、SEP保有者の申出に遅滞なく回答した場合に限り、当該訴訟の不適切性を訴えることができる [65] 。実施者は、当該申出を拒絶した場合、次の行為をしなければならない。

  • 「FRAND条件に対応する明示的なカウンターオファーを、速やかに、かつ、書面にて」特許保有者に送付し [66] 、かつ、
  • カウンターオファーが拒絶された場合、「銀行保証又は必要な預り金等を差し出す等して」、特許の実施に必要な担保を差し出す [67]

CJEUは、過去の使用行為に関しSEP保有者によりなされる損害賠償請求又は計算書提出の請求に上記の枠組みを適用しないことを明確にした。このような請求にかかわる行為は、標準的な準拠製品の上市又は市販継続が可能かどうかを左右するものでないため、TFEU第102条の侵害にあたらない [68]

B. 判決理由

CJEUは、SEP保有者の基本的な知的財産権(IPR)を司法により有効に保護することと、自由で歪みのない競争における公益との均衡を保つ必要性を強調した [69]

両当事者は、原告の市場における支配的地位の有無については争っていなかったため、裁判所の分析ではTFEU第102条に定める「濫用」の有無に焦点が当てられた [70] 。CJEUによれば、IPRの行使が支配的地位を保有する引受行為であるとしても、「元来」濫用になりえない [71] 。さらには、IPRの行使行為が支配的地位の濫用を構成するのは、「例外的な状況」に限られる [72]

SEPが関係する事例については、他のIPR関連事例と区別する。第一に、特許がSEPにあたる場合、その特許保有者は、「競合会社の製品の上市又は市販継続を妨げ、これにより、問題の製品の製造を留保できる」ことになる [73] 。これに加え、FRAND誓約により、特許保有者は、当該規格を実装する第三者に対しFRAND条件でSEPを利用できるとの「正当な期待」をもたらしている[19]。「正当な期待」がもたらされたことにより、権利侵害を訴えられた特許実施者は、SEP保有者がFRAND条件でのライセンス許諾を拒絶していた場合、原則として、TFEU第102条に依拠して防御することができる [74]

SEP保有者が法的手続を頼ってIPRの保護を求める権利を剥奪されることはないが、CJEUは、FRANDの引受けが、差止命令による救済手段を求めるに際し特定要件を遵守する義務をSEP保有者に負わせる根拠となると判示した [75] 。特に、TFEU第102条違反を回避するには、SEP保有者は、次の条件を満たさなければならない。すなわち、(a) 禁止的差止命令を求める訴訟を提起する前に、「当該特許を指し示し、何が侵害にあたるのかを明示することにより」侵害について実施者に通知しなければならず [76] 、かつ、(b) 実施者が当該ライセンス契約を締結する意思を表明している場合、FRAND条件でのライセンス申出について、「そのロイヤルティ及び計算方法」を明示した上で、当該実施者に書面で明確に提示しなければならない [77] 。この状況において、CJEUは、SEP保有者がそのような申出をするよう期待されうると認めた。これは、原則として、一般向けの規格ライセンス契約は存在せず、また、SEP保有者が第三者と締結した既存契約の条件は公開されていないことから、被疑侵害者に比べ非差別的な条件に従った申出であるかどうか確認する方が有効であるためである [78]

その一方で、(被疑)侵害者は、SEP保有者の申出に対し、注意を払った上で「業界で認められた商慣習に従い、誠実に」対応しなければならない[11]。応じるかどうかは、とりわけ「引き延ばし戦略」が黙示されない「客観的要素」に基づき確証しなければならない。 侵害者は、条件案において特許保有者のFRAND誓約がなされていないとしてSEP保有者のライセンス申出を拒絶することとした場合は、SEP保有者にFRAND条件に基づき書面による明示的なカウンターオファーをSEP保有者に送付しなければならない[12]。当該カウンターオファーが拒絶された場合において、(被疑)侵害者がライセンスを取得せずに当該SEPを既に使用しているときは、当該(被疑)侵害者は、業界で認められた商慣習に従い、銀行保証又は必要な預り金等を差し出す等して、適切な担保を差し出す義務を負う [67] 。担保の算定においては、とりわけ、「過去のSEP使用件数」を含めなければならず、被疑侵害者は、当該使用行為にかかわる計算書を提出できるよう用意しなければならない [67] 。(被疑)侵害者によるカウンターオファーにもかかわらず合意に至らなかった時点で、CJEUは、両当事者が「共通合意」により、「独立の第三者の遅滞なき決定により」ロイヤルティを決定するよう要請するオプションを有することを指し示した [79]

最後に、CJEUは、(被疑)侵害者がライセンス契約の協議と並行してSEP保有者の特許の有効性若しくは必須性又はこれを実際に使用することにつき異議を申し立てるか、将来これを行う権利を留保することができることを明確にした [80]

 

  • [55] Huawei対ZTE、欧州司法裁判所2015年7月6日判決、第22節。
  • [56] 同判決、第22節。
  • [57] 同判決、第40節。
  • [58] 同判決、第24節。
  • [59] 同判決、第25節。
  • [60] 同判決、第27節。
  • [61] 同判決、第29節以下。
  • [62] 同判決、第30節以下。
  • [63] 同判決、第34節以下。
  • [64] 同判決、第77節。
  • [65] 同判決、第65節。
  • [66] 同判決、第66節。
  • [67] 同判決、第67節。
  • [68] 同判決、第72節以下。
  • [69] 同判決、第42節。
  • [70] 同判決、第43節。
  • [71] 同判決、第46節。
  • [72] 同判決、第47節。
  • [73] 同判決、第53節。
  • [74] 同判決、第53節以下。
  • [75] 同判決、第58節以下。
  • [76] 同判決、第61節。
  • [77] 同判決、第63節。
  • [78] 同判決、第64節。
  • [79] 同判決、第68節。
  • [80] 同判決、第69節。

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

Unwired Planet v Samsung

LG Düsseldorf
19 1月 2016 - Case No. 4b O 120/14

  1. Facts
    Since 7 March 2014 Claimant, a non-practicing entity, is the proprietor of European patent EP D, allegedly covering a feature of the GSM standard, originally granted to the Intervener, and subsequently transferred to company “I”. Defendants, belonging to the K-group, produce and market GSM- and UMTS-based devices.
    In an agreement as of 26 October 2011, the Intervener granted a worldwide non-exclusive license to Qualcomm Inc., being, in turn, allowed to grant sub-licenses to its customers. Furthermore, by agreement as of 1 February 2014 one of the Defendants was granted a worldwide, non-exclusive license to patents owned by the Intervener.
    On 10 January 2013, the Intervener concluded a so-called “Master Sales Agreement” (MSA), concerning the exploitation of a portfolio of more than two thousand patents, with “E”, “F” and its subsidiaries. Claimant became a party to the MSA later on. After its accession to the MSA, “I”, by assuming the existing FRAND obligation of the Intervener in accordance with the MSA, made a separate FRAND commitment towards ETSI on 14 June 2013 and declared, in an agreement as of 13 February 2013, to ensure that subsequent acquirers equally assume this obligation. Accordingly, after the transfer of patent EP D to Claimant the latter made, on 6 March 2014, a separate commitment towards ETSI declaring to be willing to grant licenses on FRAND terms with regard to, inter alia, patent EP D.
    In order to implement the MSA the parties concluded three transfer agreements. Claimant argues that the Intervener validly transferred a part of its patent portfolio, including patent EP D, by agreement as of 11 February 2013 to undertaking “B”. On 13 February 2013, “B”, in turn, transferred the patent portfolio, including patent EP D, to “I”. After successfully requesting, on 3 September 2013, an amendment of the patent register, being performed on 24 October 2013, “I” transferred, on 27 February 2014, the patent portfolio, including patent EP D, to Claimant. Claimant successfully requested, on 7 March 2014, an amendment of the patent register which was performed on 3 July 2014.
    As a reaction to Claimant’s public license proposal including a royalty of USD 0.75 per mobile device Defendants allegedly submitted a counter-offer but no licensing agreement was concluded.
  2. Court’s reasoning
    1. Market power
      The court stressed that an application of Article 102 TFEU does not automatically result from SEP ownership but that it requires proof of a dominant position on the relevant market being conveyed by the SEP in question. Due to the fact that products not implementing the patent-in-suit could not effectively compete on the relevant market because of GSM being a key feature for such products market power of Claimant was affirmed. [152]
    2. Applicability of the Huawei rules to damages and the rendering of accounts
      While the Huawei rules of conduct apply to actions for injunction, recall and destruction of products they are, in principle, not directly applicable to claims for damages and the rendering of accounts. [153] Nor is it necessarily abusive for a SEP proprietor to bring an action for damages and the rendering of accounts without having notified the standard implementer of an infringement and without having offered a FRAND license beforehand. The Huawei obligations do, however, have an indirect impact on the extent to which damages and the rendering of accounts are due: Where the SEP proprietor fails to grant a FRAND license although he has made a FRAND commitment and the standard implementer has expressed its readiness to take a license, damages are limited to the FRAND royalty level but only for the period after the SEP proprietor’s abusive refusal to license. [154] Claims for information and the rendering of accounts must, in this event, be limited to what is necessary for determining FRAND-based damages. [155]
    3. Cap on damages/rendering of accounts in casu
      In casu Defendant could not show that he had complied with its Huawei obligation to sufficiently express its willingness to take a FRAND license. In consequence, no cap on Claimant’s claim for damages was deemed appropriate. [155]
  3. Other important issues
    Whether a SEP proprietor is free to enforce its patent in court or whether the proprietor is obliged to grant a FRAND license has to be determined under Art. 102 TFEU, not Art. 101 TFEU. [156] A FRAND declaration is not an unconditional offer made by the patent proprietor to enter into a licensing agreement with anyone willing to take a license, it merely expresses that the proprietor is, in principle, ready to grant a FRAND license if the patent in question conveys market dominance. As such, the FRAND commitment merely specifies a duty to license which competition law would impose anyway but it has an impact on the patent owner’s obligations under Art. 102 TFEU. [157]
    As regards the transfer of a SEP from the original patent proprietor to a non-practicing entity, registration in the patent register in accordance with § 30 (3) PatG establishes—also with regard to claims for damages and the rendering of accounts—presumption of ownership, allowing the proprietor to enforce all rights derived from the SEP as long as the presumption has not been successfully rebutted by Defendants. The non-registration of “B” as an interim owner was considered irrelevant under the circumstances of the present case (but not generally). Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. I, 1-2
    The MSA and the subsequent transfer agreements neither violate the German provisions on merger control (§§ 35-43 GWB) since, in any case, merger control thresholds are not reached.
    Nor was a violation of the European provisions on anticompetitive agreements (Article 101 TFEU) or on the abuse of a dominant position (Article 102 TFEU) found. Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. I, 4, a-c In particular, the transactions did not aim at enforcing non-FRAND royalties or at discriminating between licensees and the agreements framing the transactions ensured that the acquirers of the relevant patents were bound by (the initial) FRAND commitments. [158] The acquirer of a SEP is neither obliged to continue the transferor’s licensing practice in an unmodified manner nor to implement exactly the same conditions in all licensing agreements, provided the conditions are FRAND and no unjustified discrimination takes place. It is not abusive in itself for a (former) SEP proprietor to split its portfolio and to transfer the parts to several acquirers, thereby trying to arrive at higher overall royalties being paid for the portfolio. Nor is a resulting increase in the number of licenses a standard implementer has to take per se inacceptable. However, licensing conditions are FRAND only if the cumulative royalty level resulting from the licensing of all pertinent SEPs is not excessive. Putting it differently, where the royalty level for the entire portfolio was below or at the lower end of the FRAND range, it is not abusive to arrive, by way of splitting the portfolio and licensing its parts separately, at a higher overall royalty level within the FRAND range. Furthermore, the transaction agreements did not amount to price fixing. [159]
  • [152] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. VII, 6, a
  • [153] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. VII, 6, b, aa, bb
  • [154] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. VII, 6, b, dd
  • [155] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. VII, 6, b, ee
  • [156] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. VII, 4
  • [157] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. VII, 5
  • [158] Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. I, 4, b, aa
  • [159] Cf. for details LG Düsseldorf, 19 January 2016 - Case No. 4b O 120/14, para. I, 4, b, bb

Updated 24 7月 2020

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

Federal Court of Justice - BGH
5 5月 2020 - Case No. KZR 36/17

A. 事実

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

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

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

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

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

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

2015年11月3日に、本地方裁判所は、Haierに対して差止命令を出した [152] 。本地方裁判所はまた、侵害製品のリコール及び破棄を命じた。さらに本地方裁判所は、実体的事項に関するHaierの損害賠償責任を認めると共に、Haierに対して、Sisvelに対する侵害製品の販売にかかわる完全かつ詳細な会計書類の提示を命じた。

Haierは、この決定を上訴すると共に、本地方裁判所により下された差止命令の執行の停止を命じるよう、デュッセルドルフ高等裁判所(Higher District Court of Duesseldorf)(本上訴裁判所)に要請した。2016年1月、本控訴裁判所は、それぞれの命令を言い渡した [153]

上訴手続きにおいて、Haierは、とりわけ、Sisvelが侵害訴訟を提起した後の、Huawei対ZTE事件の2015年7月に下された判決(Huawei判決)において欧州司法裁判所(CJEU)がSEP保有者に課した行動要件について、本地方裁判所が、これを適切に考慮しなかった旨を主張した [154] 。 本控訴裁判所での手続き中、2016年1月16日に、Haierはさらに、ドイツの裁判所が係争特許の有効性及び侵害性を最終的に認めた場合のみ、SisvelからFRANDライセンスを受けるつもりであることを宣言した。2016年3月23日に、Haierは、Sisvelに別の書簡を送り、状況が何も変わっていないことを示した。さらに、Haierは、Sisvelの全ての特許に関するクレームチャート及びロイヤルティの算定についての追加の情報を要請した。2016年12月、Sisvelは、Haierに対して新たなライセンスの申出を行ったが、この申出はまた拒絶された。

2017年3月30日付の判決により、本控訴裁判所は、Haierの上訴を部分的に認めた [155] 。本控訴裁判所は、実体的事項に関するHaierの損害賠償責任及び会計書類の提示義務を確認した。しかしながら、本上訴裁判所は、Haierが侵害製品のリコール及び破棄についていかなる義務も負うものではないと判断した。Sisvelが、特にHaierに対してFRANDライセンスの申出を行わなかったことにより、Huawei判決に基づく自らの義務を遵守しなかったからである。本上訴裁判所は、両当事者が本件については和解することに合意したため、差止命令による救済の請求について決定を下す必要はなかった。係争特許が2016年9月に満了となるからである。Sisvelは、本控訴裁判所の決定に対して不服申し立てを行った。

2017年10月、係争特許の特定のクレームの範囲を狭め、別途その有効性を確認した [156] 。2020年3月に、ドイツ連邦最高裁判所(FCJ又は本裁判所)は、第二審として本決定を概ね容認した [157]

2020年5月5日付のこの判決により  [158] (引用元 https://juris.bundesgerichtshof.de/cgi-bin/rechtsprechung/document.py?Gericht=bgh&Art=en&sid=3abd1ba29fc1a5b129c0360985553448&nr=107755&pos=0&anz=1)、FCJは、本控訴裁判所の判決を破棄した。第一審における本地方裁判所の裁定は、Sisvelの損害賠償請求及び情報及び会計書類の提示請求に関して維持された。Sisvelによる侵害製品のリコール及び破棄についての請求は、Haierが所有している製品又は係争特許が2016年9月に満了となるまでに製造され、もしくは引き渡された製品に制限された。Sisvelによる差止命令による救済の請求は、これが係争特許が失効した後に本控訴裁判所における従前の手続き中に撤回されたため、本裁判所の裁定の対象とはならなかった。


B. 判決理由 本裁判所は、係争特許がGPRS規格に必須であり、侵害を受けているとの判決を下した [159]

さらに、本裁判所は、Haierに対する侵害訴訟を開始することにより、SisvelがEU機能条約(TFEU)第102条を違反して支配的市場地位を濫用していなかったと判決を下した [160]

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

支配的市場地位

本裁判所は、SisvelがTFEU第102条の意味の範囲内で支配的市場地位にあるとの判決を下した  [161]

FCJは、支配的市場地位が、特許により付与される独占的な権利のみによって生じるものではないと説明した [162] 。従って、いくつかの要因を考慮する必要がある [163] 。1つ目の重要な要因は関連市場である。特許が、標準化団体によって策定された基準(又はデファクトスタンダード(事実上の標準))に適合する上で技術的に必須であって、かつ、下流市場で付された製品について、当該基準に代わる技術的な手段が利用できない場合、支配性の評価に適すのは、当該特許のライセンスが提供される(個々の)市場である [164]  。

これに基づき、本裁判所は、Sisvelが支配的市場地位にあると判示した:係争特許は、GPRS規格の実施に必須であること、また、GPRS規格に適合したいかなる携帯電話も、従前の規格の世代も今後の規格の世代も同一の機能を備えることが認められていないため、(下流)市場において競業するものではないこと [165]

この状況において、FCJは、規格実施者が、商品及びサービスの市場の買主と比較して、交渉において有利な立場を得る場合が多いという事実により、SEP保有者の市場支配が制限されるというSisvelの意見を認めなかった [166] 。本裁判所は、商品やサービスの買主とは異なり、規格実施者が、特許保有者との合意を締結していなくとも、規格に準拠した製品を製造するために必要な保護された技術にアクセスできるという有利な立場にいると判断した  [167] 。しかしながら、本裁判所によると、この事実は、市場支配を除外するには十分ではない。ライセンスの交渉において個々の実施者に対するSEP保有者の交渉力の度合いは関係ない [168] 。 支配的市場地位は、独占的権利を行使して市場から実施者を排除する法的能力から生じる、特許保有者の優越した構造的な市場支配力によりもたらされる [169]

同様に、本裁判所は、SEPの行使に関するHuawei判決により課せられた制限が、市場支配(的地位)を損なうものではないことを指摘した [170] 。 本裁判所は、対等な立場で交渉を行うための手段をSEP保有者が最大限に利用できないため、これらの制限がSEP保有者の交渉上の立場を著しく弱めていると指摘した [170] 。 それにも関わらず、実施者が、特許が満了となるまで交渉を遅延することにより「ホールドアウト」行為を行うような場合でさえ、これは、特許保有者の支配的地位を問題として取り上げるには十分ではない  [170]

それでもやはり、本裁判所は、係争特許が満了したので、Sisvelの支配的市場地位が終結したことを指摘した  [171]

侵害製品を(下流)市場参入から排除する法的権利がこれ以上付与されなくなる場合、SEP保有者はもはや支配力を有しない  [171]

市場支配的地位の濫用

両当事者の行為を検討し、本裁判所は、本控訴裁判所とは異なり、Sisvelがその市場支配的地位を濫用していないと判断した  [172]  。

本裁判所は、SEP保有者が、本質的には自らの特許から生じる独占的な権利を行使することを妨げられていないことを明言した  [173] 。特許が標準必須特許であるという事実は、その特許保有者が、支配的な市場地位を有することにより、その技術の使用を許可しているか、許可するよう義務付けられていない限り、かかる使用を容認しなければならないということを意味するものではない。 [173] 。しかしながら、FCJによると、SEPの使用を許可しなければならないという義務は、実施者がFRAND条件にてライセンスを取得するつもりのない場合には存在しない。特許保有者は、とりわけライセンス契約の締結を要請する法的権利を有しないため、支配的な市場地位を有するとしても、標準必須特許の使用者に対してライセンスを「課す」義務はない。 [174]  。

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

  1. 特許保有者がその支配的な市場地位を濫用したり、非差別性に関わる義務を違反することなく、かかる特許保有者によって拒絶され得ない条件にて、実施者が無条件のライセンスの申出を行なった場合(本裁判所が2009年5月6日付の「オレンジブックスタンダート事件」判決(事件番号 KZR 39/06)における従前の裁定を反芻した限りにおいて) [175]  。
  2. 実施者が、基本的に、ライセンスを取得するつもりであるが、SEP保有者がその支配的市場地位に付される「固有の責任」に従ってライセンス契約の締結を円滑に進める「十分な努力」を尽くしていない場合 [176]

権利侵害通知

結果的に、本裁判所は、SEP保有者が、侵害請求訴訟を提起する前に係争特許の侵害使用について実施者に対して通知義務を負うという見解を示した [177] 。実施者が未だ侵害を認識していない場合に限り当該義務が発生するとFCJが示唆したと思われる  [178]  。

本裁判所は、基本的には、技術実施者が、製品の製造や販売を担う前に第三者の権利が侵害されていないことを確認しなければならない旨を説示した [179]  。しかしながら、この責務は、とりわけ情報通信技術(ICT)分野においてはかなり困難なことである。ICT分野の製品は、多数の特許権の影響を受ける可能性がある  [179]  。特許保有者は、通常はすでに侵害について調査しているが、実施者がFRAND条件にてライセンスを取得する必要があるか否かを検討し、それにより差止命令を回避できるよう、裁判手続きの開始前に実施者に対して特許の使用についての情報を提供しなければならない。 [180]  。

本裁判所によると、それぞれの侵害通知は、通常、グループ会社の親会社宛に送付されることで十分とする  [181] [309] 。内容について言えば、通知には、侵害対象となった特許を明記すると共に、特定の侵害使用及び非難の対象たる実施形態について説明しなければならない [182]  。侵害の技術的かつ法的分析についての詳細は必要ない。従って、実施者は、最終的には専門家や弁護士の助言に従い、侵害の申立について専ら評価しなければならない [182]  。概して、実際にはクレームチャートを提示することで十分な場合多い(強制ではない)  [182]  。

さらに、侵害された特許及び影響を受けた規格に関する情報を提供した特許保有者は、実施者が受け取った情報が侵害を評価するには十分ではないと直ちに示すことを予測していることを、FCJは付言した [183] 。これは、多くの特許及び規格が関わる場合にも当てはまる [183]

上記の事項を考慮し、本裁判所は、Sisvelが所定の適切な侵害通知をHaierに交付したと判断した。2012年12月20日付の書簡及びその後のやりとりは、該当する要件を満たすものであった  [184]  。

誠実意思

その一方、Haierの行為を勘案し、本裁判所は、HaierがSisvelからFRAND条件によるライセンスを取得する意思のあるライセンシーとして行為しなかったと判断した [185] 。この点において、FCJは、逆の結論に至った本控訴裁判所によるそれぞれの評価に異議を示した。

本裁判所は、Haierがほぼ1年にわたって(2012年12月から2013年12月まで)、対応することをとどまっていたため、Sisvelからの通知に対するHaier Chinaの当初の回答が遅かったことに注視した [186] 。侵害通知に回答するのに数ヶ月を要する実施者というのは、通常は、ライセンスを取得することに関心のないこと示す  [186]  。Sisvelが、2012年12月のHaierに対する最初の通知の送付後になって、Sisvelが係争特許を対象としてETSIに対してFRAND確約を行なったという事実は、適時性を評価する上でいかなる意味もなさない。2012年12月20日付の書簡において、Sisvelはすでに、Haierに対してFRANDライセンスを申し出るつもりであることを宣言している [186] 。侵害訴訟手続きの開始前に行われた遅延された回答が(2013年12月からのHaierの回答と同様に)、それでもやはり、当事者らによるHuawei判決(本上訴裁判所が行なった通り)の遵守を評価する際に考慮されるか否かについての疑義は、FCJによって判断されなかった  [187]  。本件では、この疑義は関連性がない。というのは、内容の点から言えば、Haierによるいかなる回答にも、ライセンスを取得する意思が十分に示されていないからである  [188]  。

本裁判所の見地から、実施者は、「どのような条件が実際にFRANDにあたるのかにかかわらず」SEP保有者とのライセンス契約を締結する意思について、「明確に」かつ「疑義の生じないよう」宣言しなければならない(Unwired Planet 対 Huawei(英国及びウェールズ高等法院、2017年4月5日付、事件番号[2017] EWHC 711(Pat)の判決を引用)  [189]  。実施者は、その後、「目的志向」の態度にてライセンス供与の協議に参加する義務がある [317] 。むしろ、権利侵害の通知に対して、ライセンス契約締結を検討する意思を示したり、ライセンス取得の是非及びその条件についての協議に入る意思を示したりするだけでは不十分である  [189]  。

これに基づき、本裁判所は、Haierの2014年12月の回答が、「正式な交渉」を行うという見込みのみが示されているだけであって、誠実意思を宣言するには不十分であると判断した。この宣言は、上記の「明確なもの」でも「疑義の生じないもの」でもなかった  [190]

同様に、2016年1月16日付のHaierの書簡には、Haierがドイツの裁判所による係争特許の有効性及び侵害についての従前の確認を条件としてライセンス契約を締結したため、誠実意思についての十分な宣言が記載されていなかった [191]  。実施者は、原則として、ライセンス契約の締結後にはライセンス対象特許の有効性に異議を申し立てる権利を留保することができるが、本裁判所は、それぞれの条件下での誠実意思の宣言を行うことはできないと判断した [191]  。

さらに、FCJは、Haierが2016年3月23日付の書面により自らの誠実意思を十分に明示してはいなかったと判断した。Haierが上記の許容できない条件を撤回しなかったという事実とは別に、本裁判所は、侵害通知の受領後およそ3年間に渡って、全てのSisvelの特許に関するクレームチャートの作成を要請することは、Haierが係争特許が満了となるまで交渉を遅延させることにしか関心がないことを示すものであるとの見解を示した  [192]  。

Haierが誠実意思を適切に宣言しなかったため、本裁判所は、侵害手続きが開始された後に、実施者がこの義務を履行することが可能であるか否かについて回答しなかった  [193]  。

 

  • [152] Sisvel 対 Haier、デュッセルドルフ地方裁判所、2015年11月3日付判決、事件番号No. 4a O 93/14。
  • [153] Sisvel 対 Haier、 デュッセルドルフ高等裁判所、2016年1月13日付判決、事件番号No. I-15 U 66/15。
  • [154] Huawei対ZTE、欧州司法裁判所、2015年7月16日付判決、事件番号No. C-170/13。
  • [155] Sisvel v Haier、デュッセルドルフ高等裁判所、2017年3月30日付判決、事件番号No. I-15 U 66/15。
  • [156] 連邦特許裁判所、2017年10月6日付判決、事件番号No. 6 Ni 10/15 (EP)。
  • [157] 連邦裁判所、2020年3月10日付判決、事件番号No. X ZR 44/18。
  • [158] Sisvel 対Haier、連邦裁判所、2020年5月5日付判決、事件番号KZR 36/17。
  • [159] 同判決、第9節以下、及び第59節。
  • [160] 同判決、第52節。
  • [161] 同判決、第54節。
  • [162] 同判決、第56節。
  • [163] 同判決、第 57節以下。
  • [164] 同判決、第58節。
  • [165] 同判決、第59節以下。
  • [166] 同判決、第61節。
  • [167] 同判決、第63節。
  • [168] 同判決、第62節。
  • [169] 同判決、第61節以下。FCJによると、それぞれの法的障害により、会社が市場に参入することが不合理なものとなっている事実により、事前にライセンスを得ていなくとも、市場参入の障壁はすでに構築されている。第63項を参照。
  • [170] 同判決、第64節。
  • [171] 同判決、第65節。
  • [172] 同判決、第67節以下。
  • [173] 同判決、第69節。
  • [174] 同判決、第70節。
  • [175] 同判決、第71節。
  • [176] 同判決、第72節。
  • [177] 同判決、第73節以下。
  • [178] 同判決、第73節以下。 本裁判所によると、特許保有者は、規格の使用者に対し、当該使用者が規格を実施することによりその特許の内容が許可なく使用されることになるという「事実を認識していない」場合には、特許の侵害について通知しなければならない。
  • [179] 同判決、第74節。
  • [180] 同判決、第74節及び第85節。
  • [181] 同判決、第89節。
  • [182] 同判決、第85節。
  • [183] 同判決、第87節。
  • [184] 同判決、第86 節以下。
  • [185] 同判決、第91節以下。
  • [186] 同判決、第92節。
  • [187] 同判決、第93節以下。
  • [188] 同判決、第94節。
  • [189] 同判決、第83節。
  • [190] 同判決、第95節。
  • [191] 同判決、第96節。
  • [192] 同判決、第98節。
  • [193] 同判決、第97節。

Updated 6 5月 2021

Sisvel v Haier

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

A. Facts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On 3 November 2015, the District Court decided in favour of Sisvel in both cases [1] . It granted injunctions against Haier and ordered the recall and destruction of infringing products. The District Court further recognised Haier's liability for damages on the merits and ordered Haier to render full and detailed account of the sales of infringing products to Sisvel. Haier appealed both decisions.

In the subsequent proceedings before the Higher District Court of Duesseldorf (Appeal Court), Haier argued –among other things– that the District Court had not adequately taken into account the conduct requirements imposed on SEP holders by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in the Huawei v ZTE ruling [2] (Huawei judgment) rendered after Sisvel had filed the infringement actions.

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

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

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

By two judgments dated 30 March 2017, the Appeal Court partially granted Haier's appeals in both parallel proceedings [3] . The claims for injunctive relief as well as the recall and destruction of infringing products were dismissed on the grounds that Sisvel had not complied with its obligations under the Huawei judgment, especially by failing to make a FRAND licensing offer to Haier.

Sisvel appealed the decisions of the Appeal Court.

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

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

B. Court's reasoning

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

Contrary to the view previously taken by the Appeal Court, FCJ found that by initiating infringement proceedings against Haier, Sisvel had not abused a dominant market position in violation of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) [8] .
 

Dominant market position

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

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

Abuse of market dominance

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

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

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

Notification of infringement

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

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

Willingness

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

In the Court's eyes, the implementer must 'clearly' and 'unambiguously' declare willingness to conclude a licence agreement with the SEP holder on FRAND terms and, subsequently, engage in negotiations in a 'target-oriented' manner [17] . By contrast, it is not sufficient, in response to a notification of infringement, to just demonstrate willingness to consider signing a licensing agreement or to enter into negotiations about whether and under which conditions taking a licence comes into question [17] .

The Court reasoned that the willingness of the implementer to legitimise the unauthorized use of the patent for the future by creating a respective contractual base is a prerequisite for placing the burden on the SEP holder to negotiate a FRAND licence with the implementer. [18] What is more, willingness (on both sides) is essential, because an adequate solution balancing the opposing interests of the parties results, as a rule, from an interest-based negotiation. [19] The fact that a party fails to contribute in negotiations towards a FRAND agreement will regularly be considered to its detriment. [20] An implementer, who has not shown interest in a FRAND-licence over a longer period after receipt of an infringement notification will have to undertake 'additional efforts' to make sure, that despite the delay caused a licence can be signed as soon as possible. [21]

The Court highlighted particularly that implementers should not engage in 'patent hold-out' by exploiting the 'structural disadvantage', which SEP holders face due to the limitation of their right to assert patents in court. [22] Otherwise, competition could be distorted, because the infringer would gain unfair advantages over implementers that have taken a licence in a timely manner. [22]

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

The Court observed that the Huawei judgment supports the notion that the implementer should remain willing to obtain a licence throughout the course of negotiations.Ibid, para. 65. The 'continuous' willingness is an 'indispensable condition' for successful negotiations or, in case negotiations fail, for a finding of abuse of market dominance on the side of the SEP holder.Ibid, para. 68. The refusal of SEP holder to grant a FRAND licence would, indeed, have no relevance in antitrust terms, when the implementer is not objectively willing and able to obtain such licence. [26]

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

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

Having said that, FCJ noted that for the assessment of the willingness of the implementer its entire conduct (including its reaction to the SEP holder's licensing offer) must be taken into account.Ibid, para. 77. Consequently, willingness can change in the course of time: a court action filed by the SEP holder could become abusive at a later point in time, if the implementer adequately raises a request for a FRAND-licence.Ibid, paras. 79 et seqq. However, the longer the implementer waits with asserting such request, the higher the threshold for considering it as a willing licensee will be. [37] The Court again noted that the above inter­pretation is in line with the Huawei judgment, so that no additional referral to the CJEU is needed, as Haier had requested.Ibid, para. 77.

Against this background, the Court observed that the first response of Haier China to Sisvel's notification almost one year after receipt of the infringement notification was belated [38] . An implementer taking several months to respond to a notification of infringement, typically, sends a signal that there is no interest in taking a licence [38] . Besides that, FCJ found that Haier's response in December 2013, in which only the 'hope' to have a 'formal negotiation' was expressed, was not a sufficient declaration of willing­ness, in terms of content [39] . Since it had reacted belatedly to the notification of infringement, Haier should have undertaken 'additional efforts' to demonstrate willingness, which had been, however, not the case. [40]

Similarly, Haier's letter dated 16 January 2016 did not contain a sufficient declaration of willingness, since Haier had made the signing of a licence subject to the prior confirmation of the validity and infringement of the patent in suit by German courts [41] . Although the implementer is, in principle, allowed to preserve the right to contest the validity of a licensed patent after conclusion of an agreement, the Court held that a declaration of willingness cannot be placed under a respective conditionIbid, para. 95.. Besides that, requesting the production of claim charts for all patents of Sisvel's portfolio almost three years after the receipt of the notification of infringement was, according to the Court, an indication that Haier was only interested in delaying the negotiations until the expiration of the patent in suit [43] .

Furthermore, FCJ found that Haier's willingness to enter into a FRAND licence could also not be extracted from the counteroffers made during the infringement proceedings.Ibid, paras. 102 et seqq. The fact that these counteroffers were, in terms of scope, limited only to the patents asserted by Sisvel in court indicated that Haier had not seriously addressed Sisvel's request for a worldwide portfolio licence. [45] Given that it had more than sufficient time to examine Sisvel's portfolio, one could expect from Haier to provide substantive grounds for such 'selective licensing'. [45]

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

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

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

SEP holder's licensing offer

Having found that Haier had not sufficiently demonstrated willingness to obtain a FRAND licence, the Court did not examine the FRAND-conformity of Sisvel's licensing offers to Haier in the present case [53] . According to FCJ, this question is not relevant, when the implementer has not adequately expressed willingness to sign a FRAND licence.Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 24 November 2020, Case No. KZR 35/17, para. 107.

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

C. Other important issues

Patent ambush

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

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

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

Damages

Finally, the Court found that Sisvel's damage claims were given on the merits. Negligence establishing Haier's liability for damages was given: The implementer is, in principle, obliged to make sure that no third party rights are infringed, before starting manufacturing or selling products, which Haier had not done. [60]

What is more, Sisvel's claim for damages was not limited to the amount of a FRAND licensing rate ('licensing analogy'). [61] The SEP holder is entitled to full damages, unless the implementer can assert an own counterclaim, requesting to be placed in the position, in which it would have been, in case that the SEP holder had fulfilled the obligations arising from its dominant market position. [60] An implementer is, however, entitled to such (counter)claim, only when it adequately expressed its willingness to enter into a licence, which had not been the case here.77

  • [1] Sisvel v Haier, District Court of Duesseldorf, judgment dated 3 November 2015, Case No. 4a O 144/14 (UMTS-related patent) and Case No. 4a O 93/14 (GPRS-related patent).
  • [2] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13.
  • [3] Sisvel v Haier, Higher District Court of Duesseldorf, judgment dated 30 March 2017, Case No. I-15 U 65/15 (UMTS-related patent) and Case No. I-15 U 66/15 (GPRS-related patent).
  • [4] Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 28 April 2020, Case No. X ZR 35/18.
  • [5] Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 5 May 2020, Case No. KZR 36/17.
  • [6] Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 24 November 2020, Case No. KZR 35/17 (cited by ).
  • [7] Ibid, paras. 10-43.
  • [8] Ibid, para. 44.
  • [9] Ibid, paras. 48 et seqq.
  • [10] Ibid, para. 49.
  • [11] Ibid, para. 52.
  • [12] Ibid, para. 53.
  • [13] Ibid, para. 54.
  • [14] Ibid, para. 55.
  • [15] Ibid, para. 84.
  • [16] Ibid, paras. 86 et seqq.
  • [17] Ibid, para. 57.
  • [18] Ibid, para. 58.
  • [19] Ibid, para. 59.
  • [20] Ibid, para. 60.
  • [21] Ibid, para. 62.
  • [22] Ibid, para. 61.
  • [23] Ibid, para. 63.
  • [24] Ibid, para. 65.
  • [25] Ibid, para. 68.
  • [26] Ibid, paras. 66 and 68.
  • [27] Ibid, para. 69.
  • [28] Ibid, para. 69. See Nokia v Daimler, District Court of Duesseldorf, order dated 26 November 2020, Case No. 4c O 17/19.
  • [29] Ibid, paras. 70 and 71.
  • [30] Ibid, para. 71.
  • [31] Ibid, para. 72.
  • [32] Ibid, para. 73.
  • [33] Ibid, para. 74.
  • [34] Ibid, para. 76.
  • [35] Ibid, para. 77.
  • [36] Ibid, paras. 79 et seqq.
  • [37] Ibid, para. 83.
  • [38] Ibid, para. 87.
  • [39] Ibid, paras. 88 et seqq.
  • [40] Ibid, para. 89.
  • [41] Ibid, paras. 93 et seqq.
  • [42] Ibid, para. 95.
  • [43] Ibid, paras. 96-99.
  • [44] Ibid, paras. 102 et seqq.
  • [45] Ibid, para. 102.
  • [46] Ibid, paras. 108 et seqq.
  • [47] Ibid, para. 116.
  • [48] Ibid, para. 118.
  • [49] Ibid, paras. 124 et seqq.
  • [50] Ibid, para. 124.
  • [51] Ibid, para. 125.
  • [52] Ibid, para. 126.
  • [53] The Court had, however, undertaken such analysis in its earlier decision between the same parties dated May 2020. See Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 5 May 2020, Case No. KZR 36/17, especially paras. 76-81 and 101 et seqq.
  • [54] Sisvel v Haier, Federal Court of Justice, judgment dated 24 November 2020, Case No. KZR 35/17, para. 107.
  • [55] Ibid, para. 56.
  • [56] Ibid, paras. 127 et seqq.
  • [57] Ibid, para. 130.
  • [58] Ibid, para. 131.
  • [59] Ibid, paras. 131 et seq.
  • [60] Ibid, para. 135.
  • [61] Ibid, paras. 134 et seqq.

Updated 3 2月 2020

Philips v Wiko

OLG Karlsruhe
30 10月 2019 - Case No. 6 U 183/16

A. Facts

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

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

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

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

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

By judgment dated 25 November 2016 [199] , the District Court of Mannheim granted Philips’ claims almost to the full extent. Wiko appealed the District Court’s judgement. In addition, by way of a counterclaim, Wiko requested disclosure of existing licensing agreements signed by Philips with similarly situated licensees (comparable agreements).

With the present judgment [200] , the Higher District Court of Karlsruhe (Court) overturned the ruling of the District Court in part. In detail, the Court confirmed Philips’ claims for information and the rendering of accounts as well as Wiko’s liability for damages on the merits. The Court, however, rejected Philips’ claims for injunctive relief, destruction and recall of infringing products from the market.

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


B. Court’s reasoning

The Court confirmed that Wiko’s products infringe the patent in suit [201] .

Contrary to the view taken previously by the District Court, the Court found, however, that Article 102 of the Treaty for the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) prevents Philips from enforcing the claims for injunctive relief as well as the recall and destruction of infringing products asserted in the infringement proceedings for the time being [202] . In the Court’s eyes, Philips had failed to meet the conduct obligations established by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in the matter Huawei v ZTE [203] (Huawei framework or obligations) [204] .

Huawei framework

The Court explained that SEP holder’s failure to meet its Huawei obligations will – as a rule – render an infringement action resulting in an exclusion of the implementer from a downstream market (action for injunctive relief and/or recall and destruction of products) abusive in terms of Article 102 TFEU [205] . This will, however, not be the case, when the implementer himself fails to fulfil its duties under the Huawei framework; if the implementer acts in bad faith as an ‘unwilling’ licensee, then SEP holder’s Huawei obligations are ‘suspended’ [205] . As a result, asserting the rights to injunctive relief and/or the destruction and recall of infringing products in court could then be considered as a justified reaction of the SEP holder to the implementer’s unwillingness to enter into a FRAND licence [205] .

Having said that, the Court expressed the view that the parties can remedy potential flaws in their conduct under the Huawei judgment and/or even fulfil their Huawei obligations for the first time during the course of pending infringement proceedings [206] . The Court noted that in Huawei v ZTE, the CJEU did not require that the parties fulfil all conduct obligations established prior to the initiation of court proceedings [207] . In the Court’s eyes, denying the parties such possibility is not compatible either with the general principle of proportionality known to European law, nor with the German civil procedural law, according to which courts need to consider all facts relevant for their decision-making raised in the proceedings until the end of the oral arguments [208] .

Accordingly, an infringement action that did not give rise to any antitrust concerns at the time it was filed, can be considered as abusive at a later point in time, if the situation significantly changed, e.g. the implementer fulfilled its Huawei obligations in the meantime [209] . Vice versa, an action of an abusive nature can later on be ‘corrected’, if the patent holder performs its duties under the Huawei framework during the course of the pending proceedings [209] .

In the Court’s view, a SEP holder seeking to remedy (or fulfil for the first time) obligations under the Huawei framework after the initiation of infringement proceedings must make sure that pressure-free licensing negotiations between the parties are enabled, as required by the CJEU in Huawei v ZTE [210] . For this, the patent holder must use procedural tools available under German law, particularly a motion for suspension of the trial [210] . The SEP holder can also propose a consensual stay of the proceedings, especially when a parallel nullity action against the patent in suit is pending before the Federal Patent Court [210] . In case such a motion is filed, the Court expects that a ‘willing’ implementer will consent to a suspension of the proceedings [210] .

On the other hand, the Court pointed out that fulfilment of Huawei obligations by the implementer after the beginning of infringement proceedings does not necessarily lead to a dismissal of the claims asserted by the SEP holder [211] . Indeed, if the implementer meets its Huawei duties at a very late point in time in the proceedings (e.g. shortly before the closing of the oral arguments), the Court could eventually neglect this fact in its decision [212] . This way, delays can be avoided. In this context, the Court also made clear that the implementer is not in a position to cause a unilateral suspension of the proceedings; in contrast to the opposite case (that is cases, in which a stay of the proceedings is suggested by the claimant), the SEP holder will usually not be required to agree to a suspension of the proceedings proposed by the implementer, in order to allow pressure-free negotiations to take place [212] . Insofar, the implementer bears the risk that the fulfilment of its obligations under the Huawei framework in the course of a pending infringement trial will have no impact [212] .

Notification of infringement

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

The Court confirmed that a notification addressed to the parent company within a group of companies will usually be sufficient under the Huawei framework [213] . In terms of content, the Court was satisfied by the fact that Philips’ letter from July 2015 named the patent in suit as well as the relevant part of standard document implementing the technical teachings of this patent [214] . The Court explained that the notification does not have to contain (further) information required for a final assessment of the validity and essentiality of the patent in suit [214] . Accordingly, the SEP holder is not obliged to share claims charts customarily used in SEP licensing negotiations with the implementer along with the notification of infringement [214] .

Willingness to enter into a licence

The Court further found that Wiko had sufficiently met its obligation to express its willingness to negotiate a licence with Philips [215] .

The Court agreed with the assessment of the District Court that Wiko’s initial reaction to Philips’ notification in July 2015 by letter dated 20 October 2015 was belated. According to the Court, the time available to the implementer for expressing its willingness to enter into negotiations for a licence will – as a rule – not exceed two months [216] . This period of time will usually be sufficient: since by declaring its willingness to enter into negotiations the implementer does not waive any rights (especially the right to contest the validity and/or infringement of the patents in question), it shall not be given more time than the time needed for an ‘initial overview’ of the SEP holder’s claims [216] . Delaying tactics potentially applied by the implementer must be prevented [216] . Against this background, Wiko’s letter dated 20 October 2015 was sent to Philips too late.

Nevertheless, the Court found that Wiko had remedied the belated response after the beginning of the infringement proceedings. On the one hand, Wiko’s letter dated 20 October 2015 had reached Philips at a very early stage of the proceedings, namely just some days after the action was filed [217] . In addition, Wiko had confirmed its willingness to enter into negotiations with Philips expressed in said letter during the course of the proceedings, by making a counteroffer, rendering accounts and providing security to Philips [217] .

SEP holder’s offer

On the other hand, the Court held that Philips had failed to comply with its obligation to make a FRAND licensing offer to Wiko. In particular, the Court took the view that Philips did not provide sufficient information to Wiko with respect to its licensing offer dated July 2015 [218] .

The Court argued that the ‘fairness’ element of the FRAND commitment establishes an ‘information duty’ (‘Informationspflicht’) of the SEP holder with respect to the content of its licensing offer to the implementer [219] . This duty exists besides the patent holder’s duty to make a FRAND licensing offer to the implementer [220] .

In terms of scope, the Court found that the information duty is, basically, not limited to the calculation of the offered royalty but also covers (objective) facts showing that the ‘contractual compensation factors’ (‘vertragliche Vergütungsfaktoren’) are not discriminatory [221] . The extent of the information to be shared depends on the circumstances of the specific ‘licensing situation’ [221] .

In case that the patent holder has already granted licences to third parties, the information duty will extend also towards its ‘licensing practice’, including comparable agreements [222] .

If the SEP holder uses exclusively a standard licensing programme, then it will be sufficient to show that said programme has been accepted in the market and that the offer made to the implementer corresponds with the standard licensing agreement used [222] .

On the other hand, if the SEP holder has concluded individual licensing agreements with third licensees, then it would be obliged to disclose – at least – the content of the key contractual terms in a way that would allow the implementer to identify whether (respectively why) the offer it received is subject to dissimilar conditions [222] . The Court made, however, clear that – contrary to the approach adopted by the Duesseldorf courts – the SEP holder is not obliged in any case to disclose the full content of all existing comparable agreements [222] . In the eyes of the Court, the information duty serves only the purpose of facilitating good will licensing negotiations. A full disclosure of comparable agreement is, however, uncommon in practice [222] .

In this context, the Court pointed out that the patent holder will have to adequately substantiate the content of ‘justified confidentiality interests’ that might hinder the disclosure of comparable agreements [222] . Furthermore, the SEP holder would need to facilitate the conclusion of a Non-Disclosure Agreement which would allow sharing further information with the implementer [222] .

Based on the above considerations, the Court found that Philips had not fulfilled its information duty at any time [223] . In particular, the Court criticized that Philips did not adequately explain the reasons for choosing to agree on a lump sum payment (instead of a running royalty) in an existing agreement with a third licensee [224] . The fact that companies of different size were affected did not relieve Philips from its information duty; according to the Court, the mere fact that two competitors in a downstream market are of different size does not per se offer sufficient ground for different treatment [225] .

Since the Court assumed that Philips had failed to meet its information duties, it did not examine whether Philips’ licensing offer to Wiko was FRAND in terms of content [226] . In this respect, the Court seemed to agree, however, with the notion that FRAND is a range providing parties with a degree of flexibility [227] .

Implementer’s claim for disclosure of comparable agreements

Referring to the counterclaim for full disclosure of Philips’ comparable agreements raised by Wiko in the appeal proceedings, the Court clarified that a respective right of Wiko does not exist [228] .

Such a right does not arise either from German civil law (Articles 809 and 810 German Civil Code) [228] or Article 102 TFEU [229] . Furthermore, a right for disclosure of comparable agreement can neither be extracted by the SEP holder’s FRAND commitment to ETSI [230] . The Court saw no indication that French law (which is applicable to the ETSI FRAND undertaking) establishes such a right in favour of standards implementers [231] .

C. Other important issues

The Court pointed out that the claims for damages as well as information and rendering of accounts also asserted by Philips in the present proceedings are not subject to the Huawei framework [232] . Moreover, the Court explained that the non-fulfilment of the Huawei obligations by the patent holder poses no limitations on these rights in terms of content [233] . This is particularly true with respect to SEP holder’s claim to request information about expenses and profits from the implementer5 [234] .

  • [199] Philips v Wiko, District Court (Landgericht) of Mannheim, judgment dated 25 November 2016, Case No. 7 O 44/16.
  • [200] Philips v Wiko, Higher District Court of Mannheim, judgment dated 25 November 2016, Case No. 7 O 44/16, cited by http://lrbw.juris.de.
  • [201] Ibid, paras. 37-87.
  • [202] Ibid, para. 88.
  • [203] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C 170/13.
  • [204] Philips v Wiko, Higher District Court of Mannheim, judgment dated 25 November 2016, para. 108.
  • [205] Ibid, para. 107.
  • [206] Ibid, paras. 117 et seqq.
  • [207] Ibid, para. 119.
  • [208] Ibid, paras. 120 et seq.
  • [209] Ibid, para. 120.
  • [210] Ibid, para. 125.
  • [211] Ibid, para. 126.
  • [212] Ibid, para. 127.
  • [213] Ibid, para. 111.
  • [214] Ibid, para. 112.
  • [215] Ibid, paras. 115 and 117.
  • [216] Ibid, para. 115.
  • [217] Ibid, para. 129.
  • [218] Ibid, paras. 131 et seqq.
  • [219] Ibid, paras. 132 et seq.
  • [220] Ibid, para. 135.
  • [221] Ibid, para. 133.
  • [222] Ibid, para. 134.
  • [223] Ibid, paras. 136 et seqq.
  • [224] Ibid, para. 136.
  • [225] Ibid, para. 138.
  • [226] Ibid, para. 131.
  • [227] Ibid, para. 106.
  • [228] Ibid, paras. 157 et seqq.
  • [229] Ibid, paras. 162 et seqq.
  • [230] Ibid, paras. 160 et seq.
  • [231] Ibid, para. 161.
  • [232] Ibid, para. 143.
  • [233] Ibid, para. 144.
  • [234] Ibid, paras. 145 et seqq.

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 3 12月 2018

IP Bridge v HTC

LG Mannheim
28 9月 2018 - Case No. 7 O 165/16

A. Facts

The Claimant, IP Bridge, is a non-practising entity holding a European patent (German part) which was declared essential to the wireless telecommunications standard LTE (Standard Essential Patent or SEP) developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) [376] . The previous holder of the SEP in question had made an undertaking towards ETSI according to Article 6.1 of ETSI IPR Policy to make the patent accessible to users on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms and conditions [377] .

The Defendant is a German subsidiary of HTC, a company which manufactures and sells electronic devices worldwide, including mobile phones complying with the LTE standard [378] . The Defendant filed an action for invalidity against the Claimant’s SEP in Germany [378] .

In December 2014, the Claimant contacted the Defendant’s parent company (parent company) suggesting that the parties entered into negotiations regarding a licence for Claimant’s patent portfolio which also included the aforementioned SEP [378] . Subsequently, several licensing offers and counter-offers were made by the Claimant and the parent company respectively [378] . On 29 February 2016, the Claimant sent a letter to the parent company explaining how the LTE standard made use of the technology covered by its SEP inter alia under reference to an attached claims chart [379] . In response, the parent company confirmed that it is willing to obtain a licence, among others, by letter dated 7 September 2016 [380] . However, no licensing agreement was concluded.

On 27 September 2016, the Claimant brought an infringement action against the Defendant before the District Court of Mannheim (Court) requesting for a declaratory judgment confirming Defendant’s liability for damages arising from the use of its SEP as well as for information and rendering of accounts [381] .

On 16 February 2018, during the course of the pending proceedings against the Defendant, the Claimant made a further licensing offer to the parent company [382] . On 11 April 2018, after the parent company had signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement, the Claimant presented existing licensing agreements with third parties concerning its relevant patent portfolio (comparable agreements) to the parent company and requested the latter to respond to its last licensing offer of 16 February 2018 within one week (that is until 18 April 2018) [382] . This deadline was extended for almost three weeks until 7 May 2018 [382] .

On 15 May 2018, the Claimant extended its claims in the ongoing proceedings; in addition to its already pending claims, it sought for injunctive relief and also requested the recall and the destruction of products infringing its SEP (claims for injunction) [382] .

With the present judgment the Court ruled that the Defendant is liable for damages arising from the infringement of the SEP in suit [383] . The Court also ordered the Defendant to render accounts and to provide relevant information to the Claimant [383] . On the other hand, the Court dismissed the claim for injunctive relief and the recall and destruction of infringing products as being unenforceable for the time being [384] .


B. Court’s reasoning

The Court held that the products sold by the Defendant in Germany infringe Claimant’s SEP [385] . Thus, the Defendant is obliged to compensate the damages suffered by the Claimant and the previous holder of the patent in suit [383] . Since the Claimant has no knowledge of the details required for the quantification of the damages suffered, the Defendant is obliged to provide information on relevant uses (starting from the publication of the patent grant) and render accounts for such uses (starting from one month after the publication of the patent grant) [383] .

In the Court’s view, the Defendant cannot raise a defence based on a so-called “patent ambush” against these claims [386] . A “patent ambush” requires that the patent holder deliberately – in terms of a willful fraudulent misconduct – misled the participants in the standardisation process and intentionally prevented the adoption of an alternative technology into the standard [387] . Insofar, it needs to be established (by the defendant) that the disclosure of the patent during the standardisation process would have led to an alternative structure of the standard, which would have avoided making use of the teaching of the patent in suit; the mere theoretical possibility of an alternative technical solution does not suffice for supporting the allegation of a “patent ambush” [387] . The Court held that the Defendant failed to establish such fact [386] . Accordingly, the Court left the question regarding the legal consequences of a “patent ambush” open (obligation to licence royalty-free or just an obligation to offer FRAND licences?) [386] .

Furthermore, the Court stressed out that the FRAND undertaking given by the previous holder of the SEP in suit has no impact on both the scope and the enforceability of the above claims [388] .

In the Court’s eyes, the Claimant is bound to the FRAND undertaking made by the previous holder of the SEP in suit towards ETSI [389] . The wording of Article 6.1. ETSI IPR Policy establishes a respective assumption [389] . In any case, the assignee of a SEP abuses its market power, if it is aware of the FRAND-undertaking of its predecessor, but, nevertheless, refuses to fulfil the obligations arising from it [379] . The assignee of an SEP cannot draw benefits from the inclusion of its patent into a standard, without being bound to the FRAND commitment of its predecessor, since the latter enabled the inclusion of the SEP in the standard in the first place [379] . Indeed, antitrust law and particularly Article 101 of the Treaty for the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) obliges standard development organisations to make the inclusion of patented technology into a standard subject to a FRAND commitment of the patent holder, in order to secure that essential technology will be accessible to users [390] .

Having said that, the Court made clear that SEP holder’s claims for information and rendering of accounts are not limited by the FRAND undertaking [388] . Even if one would assume that such undertaking limits the SEP holder’s claims for damages to the amount of the FRAND royalty (which the Court left undecided), the patent holder would, nevertheless, be entitled, in principle, to information regarding the use of its SEP [388] .

In addition, the Court explained that a FRAND undertaking has also no influence on the enforceability of the claims for damages (on the merits), information and rendering of accounts asserted by the Claimant [388] . In particular, these claims are not subject to the conduct requirements set forth by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the matter Huawei v ZTEHuawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgement dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-130/13. (Huawei requirements or framework) with respect to dominant undertakings in terms of Article 102 TFEU [392] .

The opposite is, on the other hand, the case with respect to the claims for injunction asserted by the Claimant. These claims are not enforceable for the time being, since the Claimant failed to fully comply with the Huawei requirements [393] .

Regarding to the SEP in suit, the Court ruled that the Claimant has a dominant market position in terms of Article 102 TFEU: The patent is essential to the LTE standard, which, in turn, cannot be substituted by an alternative standard (from the users’ point of view) [394] .

Looking at the negotiations between the parties involved, the Court did not see any flaws in the parties’ conduct with respect to the first two steps of the framework; the Claimant had effectively notified the Defendant about the infringing use of its SEP and the Defendant (in fact, its parent company) had effectively declared its willingness to obtain a licence covering also the SEP in suit [379] . In this context, the Court pointed out that the SEP holder’s obligation to notify the user of the infringing use of its SEP is also met, when the respective notification is addressed to the parent company of the (alleged) infringer (as is was the case here, especially with the Claimant’s letter to the parent company dated 29 February 2016) [379] .

However, the Court held that the Claimant failed to fulfil its consequent obligation under the Huawei framework, namely to make a FRAND licensing offer to the Defendant (respectively its parent company) [395] .

The Court considered only two offers made by the Claimant to the Defendant’s parent company prior to the extension of its claims in the pending proceedings on 15 May 2018 (since the other offers made were either indisputably not FRAND or were not produced by the Claimant in trial) [380] .

An offer made in February 2016 was found not to be FRAND in terms of content, since it contained a clause, according to which the licensee was obliged to pay the full amount of the royalties agreed, even if only one patent of the licensed portfolio was valid and used by the Defendant [380] .

The Court reached the same conclusion also with respect to the further offer made by the Claimant on 11 April 2018 (that is short before the Claimant extended its claims in the proceedings, adding the claims for injunction) [396] . The Court held that this offer did not comply with the Huawei requirements, since the Defendant was not given sufficient time to assess the offer and eventually make a counter-offer to the Claimant, before the latter asserted the claims for injunction against him in the proceedings [380] .

In the Court’s eyes, a licensing offer complying with the Huawei requirements is only given, when the SEP holder provides the SEP user with all information required from assessing the FRAND conformity of the offer [397] . Only then, the SEP user’s consequent obligation under the Huawei framework to make a FRAND counter-offer to the SEP holder is triggered [397] . In particular, the SEP holder must make the requested royalty amount transparent with reference to a standard licensing programme implemented in the market or to rates actually paid by third parties to a patent pool, covering also patents relevant to the standard [397] . For the assessment of the non-discriminatory character of the offer, information on comparable agreements is needed [397] .

Based on the above considerations, the Court held that the period of 22 workdays between the presentation of the comparable agreements to the parent company (11 April 2018) and the assertion of the injunction claims in the proceedings by the Defendant (15 May 2018) was too short for a competent assessment of the Claimant’s licensing offer [398] . The fact that the Defendant (and/or its parent company) would have had sufficient time to react to the Claimant’s offer until the end of the oral hearings in mid-July 2018 was considered irrelevant by the Court in this respect [398] . The Huawei framework aims at preventing the situation, in which the SEP user agrees to unfavourable licensing conditions under the pressure of pending infringement proceedings (defined by the Court as “patent hold-up”) [398] . In case that the SEP holder has not fulfilled the Huawei requirements prior to the initiation of proceedings (as it was the case here), it has to make sure that the parties can again negotiated without the pressure of an ongoing trial, for instance by asking the court to stay its proceedings pursuant to Article 251 of the German Court of Civil Procedure [399] . Otherwise, the initiation of the infringement proceedings shall be considered as abusive in terms of antitrust law [399] . In the present case, the Claimant chose to not ask for a stay in the proceedings, ignoring the Court’s respective indication [399] .


C. Other issues

The Court explained that the registration in the patent register allows the registered patent holder to assert the patent rights in court [400] . On the other hand, it does not define the ownership of the patent in material legal terms [401] . Nevertheless, the patent registration establishes an assumption of ownership which must be rebutted by the defendant in infringement proceedings based on concrete indications [402] .

Besides that, the Court pointed out that a stay in the infringement proceedings (pursuant to Article 148 of the German Code of Civil Procedure) until the end of parallel invalidation proceedings concerning the patent(s) in suit can be considered only under special circumstances [403] . As a rule, it must be expected with a sufficient degree of probability that the patent(s) in suit will be invalidated [403] . The Defendant failed convince the Court that this was the case with the SEP in suit [403] .

  • [376] District Court of Mannheim, judgment dated 28 September 2018, Case-No. 7 O 165/16, page 2 and 23.
  • [377] Ibid, page 23 et seq.
  • [378] Ibid, page 5.
  • [379] Ibid, page 25.
  • [380] Ibid, page 26.
  • [381] Ibid, pages 5 et seq.
  • [382] Ibid, page 6.
  • [383] Ibid, page 19.
  • [384] Ibid,page 23.
  • [385] Ibid, pages 16 et seqq.
  • [386] Ibid, page 20.
  • [387] Ibid, page 21.
  • [388] Ibid, page 22.
  • [389] Ibid, page 24.
  • [390] Ibid, pages 24 et seq.
  • [391] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the European Union, judgement dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-130/13.
  • [392] District Court of Mannheim, judgment dated 28 September 2018, Case-No. 7 O 165/16, pages 22.
  • [393] Ibid,pages 23 and 25.
  • [394] Ibid, page 23.
  • [395] Ibid, pages 23 and 25 et seq.
  • [396] Ibid, pages 26 et seqq.
  • [397] Ibid, page 27.
  • [398] Ibid, page 28.
  • [399] Ibid, page 29.
  • [400] Ibid, page 10.
  • [401] Ibid, pages 10 et seq.
  • [402] Ibid, page 11.
  • [403] Ibid, page 30.

Updated 6 6月 2019

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

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

A. 事実

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

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

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

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

Philipsは、オランダでは、とりわけ差止命令を求めてAsusに対する訴訟をハーグ地方裁判所(地方裁判所)において提起していた。地方裁判所は、EP 511特許に基づくPhilipsの差止請求を棄却した [404] 。Philipsは、ハーグ控訴裁判所(控訴裁判所)に控訴した。

本判決では、控訴裁判所がEP 511の有効性及び必須性を支持し、TFEU第102条に基づきFRAND違反を主張するAsusの抗弁(FRAND defense)を退け、Asusに対して係争中の特許を侵害している製品についての差止命令を出した [405]


B. 判決理由

控訴裁判所はEP 511特許の新規性及び進歩性を認め当該特許の有効性に対するAsusの異議を棄却した [406] 。更に、控訴裁判所は、当該特許が必須であり侵害されていると認めた [407]

控訴裁判所は、Asusの主張、即ち、Philipsが差止による救済を求めて侵害訴訟を提起する上でETSI に対する契約上のFRAND義務に違反しており、欧州司法裁判所(Court of Justice of the EU: CJEU) がHuawei対ZTE事件において定めた要件(Huawei要件)を遵守しなかったことによりTFEU第102 条 に違反したとの主張を審理した [408] 。特に、Asusは、(a) ETSI のIPR Policyに従った適切かつ適時なEP 511の開示をPhilipsが行なわず、また(b)提示した条件がFRANDである根拠を明確に示さなかったことでPhilipsがHuawei要件に反していたと主張した。

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

控訴裁判所は、ETSIの開示義務の根底にある一般的な目的について、ETSI標準に利用可能な最高の技術を組み入れることであって、Asusが主張したようにETSI 標準への参加者が最低のコストで(必須の)技術ソリューションを選択できるようにすることではないとした [409]  。また、宣言を行う義務の目的は、むしろ、使用者にとって事後的に実施できないSEPが現れないようにリスクを減らすことであるとした [410]

その上で控訴裁判所は、Philipsが行った一般的かつ包括的な宣言はETSIのIPR Policyに基づく義務を果たすために十分であったとした。この点について、控訴裁判所は、Philipsが特定のSEPの宣言を遅く行ったことは(必須でない特許を含めた)超過宣言(over-declaration)を招くとのAsusの主張を退け、逆に控訴裁判所は、早期開示ではETSI 標準に必須でない特許が含まれてしまう可能性の方が高いとした [411]  。更に、控訴裁判所は、欧州委員会の水平的協調行為に関するガイドライン(Horizontal Guidelines )によれば包括的宣言はEU競争法の目的上許容されるSEP宣言の形式の1つであり、Philipsの包括的宣言はTFEU第101条違反に当たらないと指摘した  [412]

FRAND違反を主張するAsusの抗弁(FRAND defense)の第一の根拠を退けた上で、控訴裁判所は、両当事者が交渉上Huawei要件に従っていたか否かについて評価した。控訴裁判所は、前置きとして、Huawei 事件におけるCJEUの判決は、Huawei要件に従わない特許保有者が自動的にTFEU第102条違反を犯したものとされる厳格な要件のセットを定めてはいないと述べた [413]  。このため、控訴裁判所は、本事件の特定の状況と両当事者の行為を評価する必要があるとした。

その次に控訴裁判所は、Huawei要件の第一ステップである侵害者への適切な通知の義務をPhilipsが遵守したか否かを審理した。控訴裁判所は、侵害を受けているとされる特許のリストとそれらが必須である標準をPhilipsが提出したこと及びFRAND条件でライセンスをオファーする意思をPhilipsが宣言したことによりAsusへの通知義務をPhilipsが明確に果たしていたと事件記録が示しているとの見解をとった。 [414]  また、その後の技術的議論において、Philipsは自社のポートフォリオとライセンスプログラムについての更なる詳細(クレームチャート及び標準ライセンスでのロイヤルティ料率を含む)を提供していた [415] 。これに対して、AsusはFRAND条件でのライセンスを受ける意思を表示しなかった。控訴裁判所は、交渉が常にPhilipsの側から始められ、AsusはPhilipsのポートフォリオを評価できる技術専門家を交渉に参加させていなかったと事実認定した [416] 。控訴裁判所は、交渉においてAsusが提起した技術的問題が交渉を遅らせることだけを目的としており「ホールドアウト(hold-out)」と言われる行為に当たるとした  [417]

この時点で既に、控訴裁判所はAsusがHuawei要件に基づく義務に違反しており、Philipsは差止命令を求める権利を有していると判断していたが、更に踏み込んでHuaweiフレームワークの第二ステップ以降の遵守についても検討した。控訴裁判所は、 Philipsが自社の標準ライセンス契約を提示したことは、具体的であり提示した料率の計算法も説明している点でCJEU要件を完全に満たしているとした [418] 。更に、控訴裁判所は、ドイツにおいて訴訟が提起された後にAsusが出したカウンターオファー自体は、PhilipsがHuawei要件を遵守しており従って差止命令を求める権利を有するとの結論を変えるものではないとした [419] 。最後に、控訴裁判所はPhilipsが交わしている比較可能なライセンス契約がFRAND適格であるかを評価するためにそれらへのアクセスを求めたAsusの弁護士による要求を却下した。控訴裁判所は、ETSIのIPR Policy、TFEU第102条、及びHuawei フレームワークの何れも当該要求の根拠とはならないとした [420]

  • [404] Koninklijke Philips N.V.対Asustek Computers INC、ハーグ地方裁判所、2017年、事件番号C 09 512839 /HA ZA 16-712。
  • [405] Koninklijke Philips N.V.対Asustek Computers INC、ハーグ控訴裁判所、2019年5月7日判決、事件番号200.221.250/01。
  • [406] 同判決、第4.63節、第4.68節、第4.75節、第4.80節、第4.82節、第4.93節、第4.100節、及び第4.117節。
  • [407] 同判決、第4.118節 以下。
  • [408] Huawei対ZTE、欧州司法裁判所、2015年7月16日判決、事件番号C-170/13。
  • [409] Koninklijke Philips N.V.対Asustek Computers INC、ハーグ控訴裁判所、2019年5月7日判決、事件番号200.221.250/01、第4.153節以下。
  • [410] 同判決、第4.155節及び第4.157節。
  • [411] 同判決、第4.159節。
  • [412] 同判決、第4.164節。
  • [413] 同判決、第4.171節。
  • [414] 同判決、第4.172節。
  • [415] 同判決。
  • [416] 同判決、第4.172節ないし第4.179節。
  • [417] 同判決、第4.179節。
  • [418] 同判決、第4.183節。
  • [419] 同判決、第4.185節。
  • [420] 同判決、第4.202節以下。

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 6 4月 2020

Sisvel v Sun Cupid, District Court of The Hague

オランダ裁判所の決定
2 3月 2020 - Case No. C/09/582418 HA ZA 19-1123

This case law summary was also published by The IPKat.

A. Facts

Sisvel International S.A. (Sisvel) licenses patent EP 2 139 272 B1 (EP 272) as part of its LTE/LTE-A Patent Pool [645] . The LTE/LTE-A Patent Pool is a subsection of Sisvel’s MCP licensing program [646] . EP272 has been declared as essential to the 4G-LTE standard [647] .

Sun Cupid Technology (HK) Ltd. develops and sells, through exports from China and imports in European countries, smartphones that implement the LTE technology [648] . On 22 May 2015, Sisvel notified Sun Cupid Technology (HK) Ltd about its licensing program [645] . Sun Cupid did not want to execute a license under the LTE/LTE-A Patent Pool [646] .

Sisvel filed proceedings against Sun Cupid Technology (HK) Ltd., the parent company [649] , and its subsidiaries, Sun Cupid (Shen Zhen) Electronic Ltd., Nuu Limited, Nuu Mobile (HK) Limited , Neotic Inc., Nuu Mobile UK Limited, and Pyramid Ltd. Before the District Court of the Hague (Court). Sisvel sought an injunction against Sun Cupid and its subsidiaries for infringement of EP 272 [650] , as well as the interdiction for Sun Cupid and its subsidiaries to directly or indirectly infringe the patent EP 272 [651] , act unlawfully against Sisvel through direct or indirect infringement [652] , the notification of infringement to resellers [653] , market participants and professional users, the recall and destruction of products [654] , the removal of infringing products from the websites [655] , a notification in Dutch newspapers [656] and on relevant websites [657] , a compensation for damages [658] and the provision of the list of resellers and models as well as their price [659] .

The Court granted Sisvel’s claims (apart on incident and market participants and customers), subject to the following limitation explained below.

B. Court’s reasoning

Injunction and recall of products

To avoid execution issues, the Court determined that infringing products are products that infringe the Dutch part of EP 272 and support or implement the LTE standard [660] . The Court granted the injunction to Sisvel [661] .

But it rejected Sisvel’s claims based on unlawful handling for lack of interest [662] : Sisvel did not demonstrate that those claims would lead to broader measures or interdictions than those based on direct or indirect infringement [646] .

With respect to the notification and recall of products requested by Sisvel, the Court limited it to resellers [663] : Sisvel did not sufficiently indicated who were the market participants who should be notified about the infringement and required to return the products [664] . The Court also highlighted that the recall of products was mostly focused on resellers and measures against customers would not be taken into account [646] .

Compensation for damages, penalty fee and process costs.

Regarding damages, the Court used Sisvel’s notification to Sun Cupid Technology (HK) Ltd. dated 22 May 2015 as the starting point to calculate the compensation for damages [649] . As all defendants cooperate for the commercialisation of infringing products and Sun Cupid Technology (HK) Ltd is the parent company of all other defendants, the Court considered that this date applies to all defendants as starting point for damages calculation [646] . Sisvel’s request to have an independent accountant to calculate the profits made by Sun Cupid was rejected by the Court because it could lead to execution problems, as accountants have to comply with rules that prevent them from drawing conclusions that can confirm the accuracy of their task [665] . Therefore, the Court ordered Sun Cupid to provide Sisvel with the profits on infringing products since 22 May 2015 [666] and either compensate Sisvel for the damages occurred or the profits made on the infringing products, at Sisvel’s choice [667] .

Sisvel asked for a penalty payment of either €10,000 per day where the defendants do not comply with the decision or €1,000 per product, at its choice [668] . The Court decided that the penalty fee per product would be applicable only when the violation of the decision occurs per product and would be capped to the process costs amounts [662] .

Sun Cupid has to pay for the process costs [669] .

Jurisdiction

The Court assessed its competence for Sisvel’s principal claim against defendants not based in the Netherlands [670] on Article 7.2 and 6.1 [671] of the Brussels I Regulation [672] . The competence is limited to the Netherlands [671] .

  • [645] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 2.4.2
  • [646] Ibidem
  • [647] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 2.4.1
  • [648] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 2.4.3
  • [649] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 5.7
  • [650] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 2.1 (I) and 2.2. (i)
  • [651] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 2.2. (ii)
  • [652] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 2.1 (II) and 2.2. (ii)
  • [653] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 2.2 (iii)
  • [654] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 2.2 (iv) and (v)
  • [655] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 2.2 (vi)
  • [656] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 2.2 (vii)(a)
  • [657] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 2.2 (vii)(b) and ( c)
  • [658] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 2.1 (III) and 2.2 (xiv)
  • [659] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 2.2 (xv) and (xvi)
  • [660] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 5.4
  • [661] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 6.3
  • [662] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 5.5
  • [663] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 6.4
  • [664] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 5.6
  • [665] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 5.8
  • [666] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 6.9
  • [667] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 6.8
  • [668] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 2.1 (III) and 2.2 (xvii)
  • [669] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 5.11
  • [670] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 5.3
  • [671] Court of The Hague, judgement dated 2 March 2020, par. 3.1
  • [672] Regulation (EU)No. 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgements in civil and commercial matters

Updated 4 6月 2020

Sisvel v Xiaomi, Court of Appeal of The Hague

オランダ裁判所の決定
17 3月 2020 - Case No. C/09/573969/ KG ZA 19-462

A. Facts

Sisvel International S.A. (Sisvel) is the parent company of the Sisvel group [728] . In 2012, Sisvel acquired EP 1 129 536 B1 (EP 536) [729] . EP 536 relates to the EGPRS technology, which forms part of a GSM telecommunications standard that implements EDGE [730] .

Xiaomi is a manufacturer of mobile phones with headquarters in China [731] .

On 10 April 2013, Sisvel submitted to the European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI) a declaration under which it committed to make a list of patents, including EP 536, accessible to standard users under Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms and conditions (FRAND commitment) [732] .

On 15 October 2013, Sisvel notified Xiaomi about its Wireless Patent Portfolio [730] . On 16 July 2014, Sisvel sent a letter to Xiaomi, inviting Xiaomi to contact Sisvel regarding to the conclusion of a licence [730] . Further e-mails were sent to Xiaomi on 3 December 2014, 4 December 2014 and 5 March 2015 [730] .

In an article dated 29 March 2019 published on nu.nl [733] and ad.nl [733] , Xiaomi announced that it would enter the Dutch market with online shops and physical stores [734] .

On 23 April 2019, Sisvel initiated legal proceedings against Xiaomi before the English High Court of Justice in London (English proceedings) [735] . Sisvel requested the court to declare that the terms and conditions of the MCP Pool Licence, under which EP 536 as part of the Wireless Patent Portfolio is licensed [736] , are FRAND or alternatively, to determine FRAND licensing terms and conditions and find three patents (including EP 536) to be valid and infringed [735] .

On 30 August 2019, Xiaomi filed two legal actions against Sisvel in Beijing [737] . Xiaomi asked, in one of the cases, the court to determine FRAND terms and conditions for a licence limited to China and, in the other case, to declare that Sisvel had abused its dominant position [730] .

In the Netherlands, Sisvel requested a preliminary injunction against Xiaomi, until Xiaomi accepts Sisvel’s offer to go to arbitration, as well as the recall and destruction of products, information over profit made and additional documentation with respect to resellers, a penalty fee, and – as a subsidiary motion – the removal of the EGPRS/EDGE extension of the GSM functionality [738] . With judgment dated 1 August 2019, the Court of The Hague rejected Sisvel’s claims in first instance and sentenced Sisvel to the process costs, in view of the balance of interests between the parties and the complexity of the case [739] .

Sisvel appealed the first instance decision on 29 August 2019 [740] . During the course of the appeal proceedings, on 22 January 2020, Xiaomi deposited funds [741] on an escrow account held by Intertrust [742] . With the present judgment, the Court of Appeal of The Hague (Court) rejected Sisvel’s appeal and sentenced Sisvel to higher process costs [743] .

B. Court’s reasoning

The Court focused on the balance of interests between the parties.

Injunction

The Court considered that the harm caused to Sisvel by the infringement of EP 536 was limited, taking into account only infringing uses in the Netherlands, as well as the fact that EP 536 is only one out of many patents held by Sisvel, and almost expired [744] . Considering that Sisvel’s business model is to conclude licences, Sisvel did not have to fear damages caused by free riding on the cellphone market, but only damages resulting from denied profits under a license [745] . Therefore, only financial damages could incur which the Court considers to be relatively simply compensated at a later point in time [746] . Additionally, Xiaomi had provided security [746] . The security addresses the problem raised by Sisvel, i.e. Xiaomi becoming insolvent and unable to pay damages for patent infringement [730] .

With respect to Xiaomi’s interest, the Court noted that an injunction would force Xiaomi to stop sales, close shops in the Netherlands and stop its distribution contracts with customers [747] . The consequences would thus be severe and could hardly be undone, even if Xiaomi could resume sales again after the expiration of EP 536 [730] . The only way for Xiaomi to avoid those consequences would be to take a license, which also brings important consequences. Indeed, the MCP license offered by Sisvel is not only for EP 536 but for more than 1000 patents in all countries worldwide [748] . By accepting a licence Xiaomi would be irrevocably bound to comply with it, including with its rate [749] . The stop of sales in the Netherlands would create loss of profits for Xiaomi and worsen its relationships with its customers [730] . The Court highlighted such damages are difficult to evaluate as Xiaomi is still building its market position and there are many other players on the market [730] .

The Court further argued that the case was complex for a preliminary decision, because it required an opinion on the validity and scope of a patent protecting a complex technology as well as an assessment of Xiaomi’s FRAND defence, for which parties have arguments over many facts and the principles to determine a FRAND rate [750] . Additionally, the court that would be entrusted with the main proceedings could have a different opinion on the validity of the technology and the FRAND defence [730] . Therefore, the Court concluded there was no reason, even if the patent was valid and the FRAND defence had to be rejected, to force Xiaomi to leave the Dutch market or to take a licence from Sisvel [730] . The Court found that Xiaomi’s interest to reject the request for a preliminary injunction was stronger than Sisvel’s interest to stop the continuation of the infringement [750] .

The Court also rejected Sisvel’s claim that Xiaomi was an unwilling licensee [751] . Such claim could be used to invalidate Xiaomi’s FRAND defence, but the Court stated that the examination of Xiaomi’s FRAND defence had to be separated from the balance of interests’ assessment in preliminary proceedings [730] .

Reviewing Sisvel’s request based on the EU enforcement directive 2004/48 and Article 9 of such directive did not lead the Court to another conclusion: in light of the enforcement directive, the injunction would not be proportionate in this case, therefore the Court had no obligation to use Article 9 of the EU enforcement directive [752] .

Even in combining the application of Article 3 of the EU enforcement directive, Article 5, 17 and 47 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights the Court came to the same interpretation: an injunction for the limited remaining time of EP 536 would not help [753] . The lack of an injunction would not unreasonably delay the case as the Court argued that the effective remedy would be compensation for the damages in main proceedings [730] . Additionally, the Court found this conclusion to be supported by the fact that Sisvel had only initiated main proceedings against other parties in the Netherlands and abroad [730] .

Sisvel’s claim that the lack of an injunction would create an unfair playing field between market participants was also rejected by the Court [754] . The Court stated that Xiaomi’s security and the possibility for Sisvel to get compensation for damages in main proceedings created an equal playing field [730] . Sisvel had relied on a decision of the Dutch Supreme Court, according to which a patent can only be effectively protected if there is a quick stop to further infringement [755] . The Court explained that this is the case only when the damages for patent infringement are difficult to determine; this was, however, not the case here [730] .

Security

The Court rejected Sisvel’s claim that the deposit on the escrow account had been made in such a way that it would be impossible for Sisvel to get paid [756] . Indeed, the Court underlined that Sisvel can unilaterally reclaim payment, especially if a FRAND rate is determined in the English proceedings [730] . Moreover, Xiaomi declared itself to be ready to adapt the amount placed on the escrow account in close cooperation with Sisvel, if Sisvel wishes to do so or has requests about the escrow account [730] . The Court noted it did not seem Sisvel made use of this possibility to adapt the amount [730] .

The amount deposited for fees under Sisvel’s MCP Patent Licence was considered as sufficient by the Court for the products sold in the Netherlands for the lifetime of EP 536 [757] . The Court added that this would still be the case even in the event that Sisvel wanted to increase the licensing rate for non-compliant users or to account for profits based on the infringement [730] . The Court underlined that in the Huawei v. ZTE decision of the CJEU [758] , the security had to be “appropriate”, which depends on the context of the FRAND defence [730] .

Recall and destruction of products

Sisvel’s request to have infringing products recalled and destroyed, as well as all mentions about those products removed, resellers informed and profits provided was rejected by the Court [759] . Sisvel had asserted the same urgent interest as for the preliminary injunction to support this request: stopping and preventing infringement of EP 536. Since the request for a preliminary injunction failed, the further claims asserted by Sisvel had to follow the same fate [730] . The Court stated that there was no urgent interest to have Xiaomi disclosing its profits, or at least that was more important than having Xiaomi keeping this information confidential [730] . Sisvel did also not explain why profits data should be disclosed in advance of the main proceedings [730] .

C. Other important issues

The Court also denied Sisvel’s request to grant a preliminary injunction, as long as Xiaomi did not agree to initiating arbitration procedures [760] . The Court argued that if Xiaomi would be forced to have an arbitration tribunal determining the terms and conditions for all patents of the MCP Patent Licence for the whole world, this would deprive Xiaomi of its fundamental right of access to a court [730] . The acceptance of such arbitration proposal without conditions would have drastic consequences on Xiaomi’s position [730] .

  • [728] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 2, par.2.2.
  • [729] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 2, par.2.4.
  • [730] Ibidem
  • [731] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 2, par.2.8.
  • [732] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 2, par.2.5.
  • [733] Dutch newspaper.
  • [734] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 4, par.2.11.
  • [735] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 4, par.2.12.
  • [736] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, pages 3 and 4, par.2.7 and 2.12.
  • [737] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 4, par.2.13.
  • [738] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 4, par.2.14.
  • [739] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, pages 4 and 5, par.3.3.
  • [740] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 2, par.1.
  • [741] Amount has been redacted.
  • [742] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 5, par.3.5.
  • [743] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, pages 10 and 11, par. 4.24 and following.
  • [744] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 5, par.4.3.
  • [745] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, pages 5 and 6, par.4.3.
  • [746] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 6, par.4.3.
  • [747] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 6, par.4.7.
  • [748] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, pages 6 and 7, par.4.8.
  • [749] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 7, par.4.9.
  • [750] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 7, par.4.11.
  • [751] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 7, par.2.12.
  • [752] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 8, par.4.14.
  • [753] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 8, par.4.15.
  • [754] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 8, par.4.16.
  • [755] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, pages 8 and 9, par.4.17.
  • [756] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 6, par. 4.5.
  • [757] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 6, par. 4.6.
  • [758] Court of Justice of the European Union, Huawei Technologies Co.Ltd. v. ZTE Corp. and ZTE Deutschland GmbH, 16 July 2015.
  • [759] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 9, par. 4.2.1.
  • [760] Court of Appeal of The Hague, judgement dated 17 March 2020, page 9, par.4.18.

Updated 3 2月 2021

HEVC (Dolby) v MAS Elektronik

LG Düsseldorf
7 5月 2020 - Case No. 4c O 44/18

A. Facts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


B. Court's reasoning

The Court found that Dolby was entitled to assert claims arising from the patent-in-suit. The respective patent application was transferred before grant and Dolby was registered as owner in the Patent Register at the moment the patent was granted. MAS did not present any reason to question the validity of the transfer of the patent application to Dolby. [605]

Furthermore, the Court held that the patent-in-suit is essential (and not only optional) to the improvement process of encoding and decoding of images under the HEVC standard and, therefore, infringed by the devices manufactured and sold by MAS. [606]


Abuse of dominant market position

Having said that, the Court explained that by asserting claims for injunctive relief as well as recall and destruction of infringing products before court, Dolby had not abused its dominant market position in violation of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) [607] .

In the eyes of the Court, Dolby holds a dominant position [608] . The Court highlighted that owning a patent, even a standard-essential patent, does not constitute per se a condition for market dominance [609] . That must be assessed case by case. A dominant position will be, as a rule, given if the use of a SEP is considered a pre-requisite to enter a downstream market. This is true also when the SEP is needed for offering competitive products in the downstream market. [609] In the present case, the implementation of the HEVC was required to make a competitive offering in the STB market [610] .

Notwithstanding the above, the Court found that Dolby had not abused its dominant market position, considering that it had fulfilled the obligations set forth by the Court of Justice the EU (CJEU) in the matter Huawei v ZTE (Huawei judgment or framework) [611] .


Notification of infringement

The required notification of the infringement by the patent holder was properly done. The Court understood that HEVC Advance, as the pool administrator, was entitled to do such notification on behalf of the patent holders that contributed patents to the pool. There is nothing in the Huawei judgment that suggests otherwise. [612]

The Court explained that the notification must, at least, include the publication number of the patent-in-suit and also indicate the infringing products and the infringing act(s) of use. [613] The notification does not need to contain a detailed (technical or legal) analysis, with reference to standards or claim features, but only present sufficient information that enables the other party to assess the infringement accusation made against it. [613]

In this case, the notification initially sent by HEVC Advance to MAS was sufficient in terms of content, since it specified the infringing products, and referred to HEVC Advance's patent portfolio and its website containing additional information. The fact that no patent numbers were mentioned was not considered harmful, since this information is publicly available in the pool's website. [614] Moreover, the Court highlighted that the notification can be a mere formality, if knowledge of the infringement by the implementer can be assumed. In such case, arguing that the notification was flawed, can be considered abusive, as it was the case here. [615]

Besides the notification made by HEVC Advance, the Court found that Dolby had also made a sufficient notification itself by the letter sent to MAS on 11 July 2018. [616] The letter fulfilled all requirements in terms of content. The fact that it was sent only after the action was filed was not harmful, since MAS had been already adequately informed by HEVC Advance before.Ibid, para. 759.

Willingness to obtain a licence

Looking at the conduct of MAS after receipt of the notifications of infringement, the Court reached the conclusion that MAS had sufficiently declared willingness to enter into a pool licence with HEVC Advance. [617] On the contrary, the Court took the view that MAS had not acted as a willing licensee with respect to Dolby's subsequent offer for a bilateral licence. [618]

The Court explained that, in its licensing request towards the SEP holder, the standards implementer must express its 'serious' willingness to conclude a licensing agreement on FRAND terms [619] . For this, no strict requirements apply, in terms of content or form; moreover, also an 'implicit behaviour' can suffice [620] . The implementer is, however, required to react in due course. [621] Furthermore, 'willingness' must still exist when the patent holder makes his licensing offer [619] .

The Court held that MAS had expressed willingness to take a pool license from HEVC Advance –although no express request was made–, since "immediately" after receipt of the notification of infringement, MAS started a correspondence with HEVC Advance with the goal to initiate negotiations. [622]

On the other hand, MAS had not been willing to obtain a bilateral licence from Dolby. [616] The Court emphasized that the whole conduct of the implementer must be assessed; a 'genuine' willingness to obtain a license must be demonstrated. [623] This is not given, when -as it had been the case here- the implementer only poses repetitive questions that do not present any constructive remarks and, therefore, do not lead to any progress in the negotiation. [624] In addition to that, it could be expected that a licensee willing to sign a bilateral agreement with an individual pool member, will have an interest to also engage in discussions with further pool members, especially for assessing the total 'economic burden' for its products, in comparison with a pool licensing agreement. [625] MAS refrained from doing that. What is more, it made clear in the proceedings that it was only interested in a pool licence.Ibid, para. 765.

SEP holder's offer

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

The Court found that the offer made by HEVC Advance met the Huawei requirements. In terms of form, the fact that the standard agreement sent to MAS had not been signed did not cause any concerns. [626] In the Court's view, the CJEU requires that the SEP holder's offer contains all usual terms of a licensing agreement, however, no binding offer that could lead to the conclusion of a licence through sole acceptance by the implementer is needed. [627]

Furthermore, HEVC Advance had sufficiently explained the royalty calculation, in line with the Huawei judgment. [628] If the patent holder has previously granted licenses to third parties, it has to give more or less substantiated reasons, depending on the circumstances of the individual case, why the royalty it envisages is Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND). [629] In case that the SEP holder offers licences exclusively based on a standard licensing agreement, it will, as a rule, suffice to establish the adoption of the licensing programme in practice and to show that the specific offer corresponds to the standard licensing agreement. [630] The more standard licensing agreements signed are shared by the patent holder, the stronger the assumption is, that the offered rates are FRAND. [631]

The Court emphasized that is not necessary to present the full content of all the licensing agreements already concluded, but only the relevant ones, considering clearly delineated product categories. [632] Existing licences with cross-licensing-elements, are not relevant in this context, especially, when the implementer does not have any patents himself, as it was the case here. [633] Accordingly, the Court found that the forty third party agreements disclosed by Dolby in the proceedings were enough in the present case. [634]


Fair and reasonable terms

Looking at the content, the Court found that the terms of the standard licensing agreement offered by HEVC Advance are fair and reasonable. [635] As fair and reasonable can be considered terms offered to a willing party, without exploiting a dominant position. [636] Apart from the royalties, the offer must also prove reasonable with regard to the other terms as well (scope, territory etc.). [636]

Having said that, the Court held that the royalties charged by HEVC Advance's standard licensing agreement are fair and reasonable. [637] An indication of that is the fact, that up to January 2020, more than forty licensees selling products in the same category as MAS had taken a license on the same terms, modified sometimes by 'blended rates'. [638] On the other hand, the fact that lower royalties are charged by a competing patent pool (MPEG LA) does not make the HEVC Advance's rate unreasonable, as FRAND is considered rather to be a range than a specific amount. [639]

Furthermore, the Court took the view that the limitation of the offered licence to 'practised claims' only (that is those claims of the licenced patents that are essential to the practice of the HEVC standard), is not unreasonable. [640] This limitation does not present any adverse effect on MAS' business, since the royalty payments correspond to the claims that are actually used by the licensee (and, vice versa, no obligation to pay for claims not used is established). [641]

Also, in the eyes of the Court, MAS was not able to prove that the lack of an adjustment clause is unreasonable [642] . MAS failed to establish that respective clauses are common in industry practice; on the contrary, the fact that at least forty parties had signed a licence with HEVC Advance without such clause indicated the opposite. [643] What is more, the royalty clause is constant. That means that the rate charged will not change if licenced patents expire, but also will remain the same in the case of addition of new patents to the pool that will be automatically covered by the agreement. Insofar, an economic risk for both parties exists. [644]

Regarding the choice of forum clause contained in the standard licensing agreement, establishing the jurisdiction of courts in New York as well as granting HEVC Advance the right to also choose other venues at its discretion, the Court was not able to conclude any unfair disadvantage for MAS. [645] The same clause was agreed in many other licensing agreements signed by HEVC Advance with third parties. [646] In fact, MAS agreed to a similar one in its license agreement with the MPEG LA pool. [646]


Non-discrimination

Besides that, the Court was unable to establish any discrimination against MAS through the licence offered by HEVC Advance. [647] The obligation of equal treatment applies only to aspects that are comparable; even a market dominant undertaking must be allowed to respond differently to different market conditions. [648] An unequal treatment is to be assessed based on the specific circumstances of each individual case under the goals of competition and can be accepted as lawful, if objectively justified. [649] Therefore, not every difference in the terms and conditions of a licence can be seen as abusive. [650] According to the Court, the same principle also applies to the licensing of SEPs. [651]

Against this background, the Court found that the fact that the pool administered by HEVC Advance updated its terms in a way that an 'uniform licensing regime' no longer exists, since for certain licensees the previous version of the agreement still applies, does not mean that the new standard licensing agreement offered to MAS was discriminatory. [652] Although, according to the case-law of the Higher District Court of Düsseldorf, a patent holder (and its assignees) is bound to the 'licensing concept' underlying the first ever licence granted, it is allowed to deviate from such 'concept', if this does not lead to a discrimination of either past nor future licensees. [653] In the Court's view, this was not the case here: The old licensees were offered the possibility to shift to the new terms, and there is no evidence that MAS would be treated worse by the terms of the new standard licensing agreement. [653] On the contrary, the new royalty calculation leads to a lower licensing burden. [653]

The Court also took the view, that there is also no discrimination in the way the patent-in-suit is enforced. [654] MAS argued that it was discriminated, because its competitors or large companies were not sued by members of the HEVC Advance pool for patent infringement. The Court highlighted that refraining from enforcement does not necessarily mean discrimination: the phase of adoption of the relevant standard, the costs and procedural risks involved, the knowledge of the holder regarding the infringement and its extent are factors to be considered. [655] In the case of HEVC Advance, the initial phase of its existence and limitation of resources are relevant for this assessment. [656]

Moreover, no discrimination with respect to the amount of the royalty rate or the scope offered was found. [657] The Court pointed out that the fact that some of the existing licensees have agreed on rates higher than those offered to MAS, could not be used in favour of the latter: as a rule, only those who are treated less favourably can invoke discrimination. [658]

The Court further held that the 'blended rates' agreed with certain other licensees, did not render the offer made to MAS by HEVC Advance discriminatory either. [659] These rates mirrored variations due to the difference in products and implementer's profiles and were either offered to MAS or not applicable to his business model. [660]

Furthermore, the Court found that the 'incentive programme' offered by the HEVC Advance pool, which under specific conditions (especially the signing of a licence at an early point in time) results in discounted rates, is lawful and non-discriminatory. [661] The same is true with respect to discounts offered for past uses prior to the signing a licence, as it is the case for HEVC Advance [662] .

Finally, a 10% discount offered by HEVC Advance when a licensee also takes a trademark licence, allowing for the labelling of products with the HEVC trademark, was equally offered to the MAS, so that the Court could not see a discrimination of MAS by such provision in the standard licensing agreement. [663]


Implementer's counteroffer

The Court found that MAS' counteroffer was not FRAND. [664] The offer made by MAS failed to present sufficiently an explanation of why its terms would be FRAND, in view of the terms offered by HEVC Advance. MAS presented only a royalty rate, without making any reference to the rest of the clauses contained in the offer previously made by HEVC Advance, which it alleged to be discriminatory or unreasonable. [665]

Having found that MAS' counteroffer had not been FRAND, the Court explained that the fact that MAS neither rendered accounts nor provided security did not play any role for its decision. [666]


C. Other issues

By the facts of the case, the Court concluded that MAS acted culpably, or at least negligently, and, therefore, owes compensation for past and future damages caused by its actions. Moreover, damages should not be limited to a FRAND royalty. [667] The quantification of the damages will be possible with the rendering of accounts by MAS. [668]

The lawsuit for revocation of the patent, arguing lack of inventive step, that had not been decided yet, had no likelihood of success, according to the Court's analysis. Therefore, the request for staying the proceedings until a decision on the validity is delivered by the Federal Patent Court was denied. [669]

  • [605] HEVC (Dolby) v MAS Elektronik, District Court (Landgericht) of Düsseldorf, 7 May 2020, Case No. 4c O 44/18 (cited by www.nrwe.de), paras. 75 et seqq.
  • [606] Ibid, paras. 157-184.
  • [607] Ibid, paras. 186 et seqq.
  • [608] Ibid, paras. 189 et seqq.
  • [609] Ibid, paras. 194 et seqq.
  • [610] Ibid, para. 197.
  • [611] Huawei v ZTE, Court of Justice of the EU, judgment dated 16 July 2015, Case No. C-170/13.
  • [612] HEVC (Dolby) v MAS Elektronik, District Court (Landgericht) of Düsseldorf, 7 May 2020, Case No. 4c O 44/18, paras. 213 et seqq and paras. 221 et seqq.
  • [613] Ibid, para. 210.
  • [614] Ibid, paras. 229 et seqq.
  • [615] Ibid, para. 233.
  • [616] Ibid, para. 759.
  • [617] Ibid, paras. 236 et seqq.
  • [618] Ibid, paras. 760 et seqq.
  • [619] Ibid, para. 237.
  • [620] Ibid, para. 237 and para. 761.
  • [621] Ibid, para. 760.
  • [622] Ibid, para. 238.
  • [623] Ibid, para. 763.
  • [624] Ibid, para. 764.
  • [625] Ibid, para. 765.
  • [626] Ibid, paras. 241 et seqq.
  • [627] Ibid, para. 242.
  • [628] Ibid, paras. 244 et seqq.
  • [629] Ibid, para. 245.
  • [630] Ibid, para. 248.
  • [631] Ibid, para. 255.
  • [632] Ibid, para. 250.
  • [633] Ibid, para. 253.
  • [634] Ibid, para. 249.
  • [635] Ibid, paras. 257 and 258.
  • [636] Ibid, para. 260.
  • [637] Ibid, paras. 264 et seqq.
  • [638] Ibid, para. 268.
  • [639] Ibid, paras. 271 et seqq.
  • [640] Ibid, paras. 280 et seqq.
  • [641] Ibid, para. 284.
  • [642] Ibid, paras. 286 et seqq.
  • [643] Ibid, para. 295.
  • [644] Ibid, para. 298.
  • [645] Ibid, paras. 301 et seqq.
  • [646] Ibid, para. 304.
  • [647] Ibid, paras. 306 et seqq. and paras. 314 et seqq.
  • [648] Ibid, para. 308.
  • [649] Ibid, paras. 308 et seq.
  • [650] Ibid, para. 310.
  • [651] Ibid, para. 311.
  • [652] Ibid, paras. 314 et seqq.
  • [653] Ibid, para. 318.
  • [654] Ibid, para. 321.
  • [655] Ibid, para. 322.
  • [656] Ibid, para. 323.
  • [657] Ibid, paras. 325 et seqq. as well as paras. 443 et seqq.
  • [658] Ibid, para. 326.
  • [659] Ibid, paras. 328 et seqq.
  • [660] Ibid, paras. 329 et seqq.
  • [661] Ibid, paras. 334 et seqq.
  • [662] Ibid, paras. 526 et seqq.
  • [663] Ibid, paras. 665 et seqq.
  • [664] Ibid, paras. 751 et seqq.
  • [665] Ibid, paras. 754.
  • [666] Ibid, para. 756.
  • [667] Ibid, para. 773.
  • [668] Ibid, para. 774.
  • [669] Ibid, paras. 781 et seqq.