Warning: May Contain SEPs

UK (F)RAND Proceedings

This page gives a brief summary of current UK standard essential patent proceedings. To be updated whenever I have the time and inclination. I will try to link to handed-down judgments and some relevant coverage. Do let me know if you have any up to date info to be added.

My previous post in relation to an AIPPI event on the Unwired Planet Court of Appeal judgment was continuing to receive a few views for its summary of UK FRAND proceedings, so now it gets its very own page.

[Ed: Last updates added on 2nd September 2019]

Unwired Planet v Huawei 

Will be heard by the Supreme Court in late 2019, Judgment likely early 2020.

Conversant v Huawei & ZTE

Mr Justice Henry Carr’s decision to grant jurisdiction went on appeal (EPLaw) and was upheld by the Court of Appeal (Judgment). A further appeal is now also due to be heard by the Supreme Court in conjunction with the UP v Huawei appeal.

The judgment from the first technical trial is now available. EP (UK) 1797659 was found invalid for added matter (bailii).

Apple v Qualcomm

Delayed following a successful jurisdiction challenge. See coverage by Bird & Bird as to the reasons why Conversant’s claim was able to continue but Apple’s was stayed.

A pending appeal from the decision of Morgan J was dismissed following the global settlement between the parties.

Philips v Asus & HTC

An appeal is now pending, currently fixed to be heard on 28th October 2019. Given the estimated length of 25 hours this is likely two or more of the technical trials.

There does not currently seem to be any sign of a FRAND trial.

HTC originally pleaded a pass-through license via Qualcomm (/ the benefit of an undertaking not to sue) to the patents asserted by Philips, but this argument was unsuccessful at first instance and on appeal.

The technical trials have all now taken place at first instance:

TQ Delta v Zyxel

The RAND trial in September has been vacated following ZyXEL’s successful reliance on a waiver of its right to a licence on RAND terms. See the Judgment of the Court of Appeal here, and coverage by the IPKat here.

There is a second technical trial going ahead in 2020.

IPCom v Vodafone

IPCom have recently requested an expedited trial in relation to one 3G SEP and one 4G SEP. The first technical trial is now due for the end of November 2019.

Any FRAND trial would not now take place until after the Supreme Court’s UP decision is available in 2020.

PanOptis v Apple

PanOptis have sued Apple in respect of a number of SEPs in relation to High-Efficiency Video Coding. HEVC could be one of the major FRAND battlegrounds in the coming years as video streaming and playback has become central to the functionality of mobile devices.

See the case management decision of Mr Justice Morgan here (WestLaw).

The arrangement of trials is as follows:

5. Following the first trial there is to be a trial in relation to technical issues in respect of two patents followed by a third trial, this time I think dealing with three patents. That covers six altogether and it is envisaged that the seventh patent be dealt with at a trial to be stood over, effectively put into suspense.

6.  Following the technical trials there is to be a trial of issues in relation to the FRAND issues between the parties. In order to prepare for these trials, there is to be a case management conference, say the draft directions, in the month of September 2019, with a time estimate of one day.

Vestel v HEVC Advance 

This case is of a somewhat different character to those above. Vestel are suing the HEVC patent pool HEVC advance on a strict competition law basis, with no accompanying attempt to invalidate any of the pool’s patents. Bristows say:

“Vestel claims that offers made by both HEVC Advance and the representative licensor constitute excessive pricing, contrary to Article 102 TFEU. Its primary basis for this claim is that another patent pool covering the same standard, MPEG LA, is said to contain a higher number of declared SEPs while offering licences at a lower royalty rate than HEVC. Vestel also claims that some 1,581 SEPs in the HEVC pool are also in the MEPG pool, to which Vestel has already taken a licence. Vestel has made a counter-offer to HEVC Advance which it says takes into account the lower rates in the MPEG LA pool and the overlapping patents.”

Sisvel v Archos et al.

These proceedings are now underway.

The Sivel patent litigated in Germany recently was EP1119997, which is involved in 3G/4G – given the successful finding in validity in that litigation the same patent may well be involved here.

Interdigital v Lenovo

Interdigital (link) are pursuing Lenovo in a new global FRAND fight. the technology on the table is 4G. INterdigital are seeking determination of a global FRAND licence in the UK Courts, suing on 4 EPs. The Interdigital press release states that the following four patents from the Interdigital portfolio are in issue:

European Patent (UK) 2 363 008 – Enables the efficient control of carrier aggregation in 4G (LTE). In advanced mobile phones, carrier aggregation is key to achieving high data rates.

European Patent (UK) 2 557 714 – Supports the use of multiple antennae transmissions in 4G (LTE). The patent enables the use of flexible levels of error protection for reporting by the handset, increasing the reliability of the signaling.

European Patent (UK) 2 485 558 – Allows mobile phone users quick and efficient access to 4G (LTE) networks. One of the main technological challenges of developing LTE networks was efficient bandwidth usage for various traffic types such as VoIP, FTP and HTTP. This patent relates to inventions for quickly and efficiently requesting shared uplink resources — for example, reducing lag when requesting a webpage on a smartphone on LTE networks.

European Patent (UK) 2 421 318 – Decreases latency during HSUPA transmission by eliminating certain scenarios in HSUPA where scheduling requests may be blocked. A blocked scheduling request may prevent a smartphone from sending data. 

Image Credits: Image by enriquelopezgarre from Pixabay