Posts Tagged: "FRAND"

Nokia and Harting at the CJEU: The Issues Explained

Two cases pending at the EU Court of Justice (CJEU) address, respectively, questions on the licensing of standard essential patents (SEPs), and the availability of interim measures in litigation. With the hearings expected later this year, IPWatchdog looks at the key issues raised. It is relatively rare for patent cases to come before the CJEU, as there are no EU Directives or Regulations directly governing patents. However, the Court does hear patent cases when they also involve other aspects of EU law, such as Article 102 TFEU, concerning abuse of a dominant position; the Enforcement Directive; and the Biotechnology Directive. In the past few months, the German courts have referred questions in two important patent cases.

Transparency in 3G/4G/5G FRAND Licensing and ETSI’s IPR Database

A disturbing trend has recently emerged whereby an alleged lack of transparency associated with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) intellectual property rights database (IPR Database) is being used in support of antitrust allegations and to propose radical changes to the fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing framework for 3G, 4G and 5G wireless technology. But is there really such a transparency problem or is this yet another attempt to tilt balance of power in favor of implementers and excuse hold-out? 

Unpacking 5G SEPs and Standards Contribution Data

With multiple reports published by many different entities on 5G leadership, it is hard to know who to believe, as there is little transparency about where the data comes from and what types of analysis were applied to retrieve the results, let alone how to try to reproduce any such analysis yourself. Most of the time, understanding standard essential patents (SEPs), standards and patents requires access to multiple databases, the valuable time of your subject matter experts, as well as both in-house and outside counsel. In the end, it can appear that you are spending far more resources on gathering the data than on gaining actionable knowledge from it to understand what it means to your business, your portfolio and your strategy.

The SSPPU is the Appropriate Royalty Base for FRAND Royalties for Cellular SEPs

A recent series of five articles on IPWatchdog address various aspects of licensing cellular standard essential patents (SEPs) on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms by examining statements from entities involved with licensing. The authors also provide their commentary on the statements and cite various authorities that they suggest are consistent or inconsistent with principles advocated in the statements. The articles lean heavily in favor of the positions of a few companies that derive significant revenue from SEP licensing. For this reason, they fail to present a balanced view. Indeed, to read the series, one might conclude that the major priority for SEP licensing should be to extract excessive revenues for SEP patent owners. Quite the contrary, a key priority should be applying FRAND safeguards against outsized, windfall profits resulting from abuse of SEPs to the detriment of innovative companies that engage in research and development and supply products to the marketplace. Those safeguards include applying well-established principles of patent law to SEPs, including when it comes to patent valuation and patent litigation, where a patent holder is rewarded with fair royalties that reflect the incremental value of any infringed and valid SEP.

A New Trial is Ordered with Respect to Damages in Optis Wireless v. Apple, Despite No FRAND Claims at Issue

On April 14, 2021, in a somewhat surprising about face, Judge Rodney Gilstrap ordered a new trial with respect to damages in Optis Wireless Technology, LLC et al. v. Apple Inc., Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-00066-JRG (E.D. Texas), despite previously ruling that no FRAND based claims remained in the case. This ruling adds even more silt to the already murky waters of damages for patents related to standardized technology. In a previous article, we discussed the confusing and problematic convergence of FRAND licensing rates and reasonable royalty damages for patent infringement, despite these two concepts having different origins and seeking to achieve different objectives: i.e., patent damages being a creature of statute and case law and seeking to compensate a patent owner for infringement, whereas FRAND commitments are rooted in contract and seek, amongst other things, to ensure that licenses can be obtained for standardized technology and that royalty stacking does not become an issue (e.g. as reflected in “top-down” approaches used to determine FRAND rates for standards essential patents). As noted in that article, one problem with this convergence is that it facilitates hold out. Why put money in the parking meter if the fine is no more that the fee?

A Standard Essential Patent Valuation Perspective on Ericsson v. Samsung

As the battle over the adequate forum for Ericsson v. Samsung continues, the question arises as to how the court will eventually deal with the valuation of the standard essential patents (SEPs) at stake. Here, the U.S. courts are at an advantage. After all, the United States has from the outset illustrated global thought leadership on the valuation of SEPs. Historically, courts have accepted two principal methods to determine the value of SEPs: the Comparable Licenses Approach and the Top Down Approach. These methods have come to be seen as compatible with the Georgia Pacific Criteria, which set out the core valuation principles in the United States and, increasingly so, even beyond U.S. borders.

Tillis, Michel and Iancu Back Ericsson in Heated International FRAND Dispute with Samsung

In the latest phase of an international dispute between Samsung Electronics and Ericsson, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), Judge Paul Michel and former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Andrei Iancu have filed an amicus brief at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) supporting Ericsson and urging the CAFC to affirm the district court’s order granting an anti-interference injunction. That order enjoined Samsung from taking any action to interfere with Ericsson’s U.S. FRAND (“fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory” terms) lawsuit against Samsung in the Texas court.

The Fairness of FRAND: Patent Pools, SSO Policies and the Way Forward

Standard Essential Patents (SEPs), as the name suggests, are an essential set of patents used for the implementation of a standardized technology. This set of patents renders it impossible to implement or operate standard-compliant equipment without infringement. Does that mean every patent declared by any company is essential? In a word, no. This article intends to address this aspect in detail and pave way for licensees to save costs and pay for what they use in their implementations.

What the Latest Optis Wireless v. Apple Ruling Means for Patent Infringement Damages for SEPs

In a previous article, we considered the difference between a reasonable royalty for infringement of a U.S. patent and a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) rate for licensing standards essential patents (SEPs). Among other points, the article discussed the then ongoing case between Optis Wireless Technology, LLC et al. v. Apple Inc., Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-00066-JRG (E.D. Texas, September 10, 2020). Most recently, Judge Rodney Gilstrap issued an Opinion and Order as to Bench Trial Together with Supporting Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (“Opinion and Order”) and ordered Final Judgment be entered. This Opinion and Order sheds a little more light on the issue of damages for SEPs, including the role of exemplary damages for willful infringement, but also leaves some key questions unanswered.

Determining Essentiality: An Analysis of SEPs and Tips to Avoid Over-Declaration

A close examination of SEP databases reveals that a large number of patents that have been declared SEPs are not essential…. Patent owners are obliged to declare the patent as essential even if they are doubtful about its essentiality. Unfortunately, a few patent owners may intentionally proclaim many of their patents to be essential to gain benefits or a business advantage. In practice, there are multiple reasons potentially essential patents and patent applications might be rendered non-essential. For example, a patent could be granted with amendments that cause it to be no longer essential. Whenever implementers bargain for the licensing fees, they must examine whether certain patents are actually essential, which can stall negotiations and lead to litigation.

The New Madison Approach and the Harmonization of Antitrust and Patent Law: A Retrospective Summary

In a major 2018 speech, Justice Department Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Makan Delrahim enunciated a “New Madison Approach” (NMA) (a tribute to James Madison’s support for a strong patent system) designed to restore greater respect for efficiency-seeking patent transactions in antitrust enforcement (a 2020 law journal commentary discusses the NMA and the reactions it has elicited, both positive and negative). Consistent with the NMA, the Trump Administration Antitrust Division took a number of initiatives aimed at reducing perceived new antitrust risks associated with widely employed patent licensing practices (particularly those touching on standardization). Those new risks stemmed from Obama Administration pronouncements that seemed to denigrate patent rights, in the eyes of patent system proponents (see here, for example). Given this history, the fate (at least in the short term) of the NMA appears at best uncertain, as the new Biden Administration reevaluates the merits of specific Trump policies. Thus, a review of the NMA and the specific U.S. policy changes it engendered is especially timely. Those changes, seen broadly, began a process that accorded greater freedom to patent holders to obtain appropriate returns to their innovations through efficient licensing practices – practices that tend to promote the dissemination of new and improved technologies throughout the economy and concomitant economic welfare enhancement.   

Understanding Damages Calculation in SEP Litigation

Courts around the world have determined appropriate methodologies for calculating damages on standard essential patents (SEPs) for which patent holders have made an assurance to license on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. Determinations of patent holdup, licensee holdout, use of worldwide portfolio licensing, incremental value rule, etc. are included in these decisions. The court determines damages based on the below-referenced judgments and FRAND terms when reviewing SEP infringements. Under most patent laws, infringement damages are set based on factors including actual loss due to infringement, if the actual loss is difficult to determine, gains of the infringer, and if both actual loss and gains are not available—determination of appropriate multiples of a reasonable royalty fee. 

Ericsson Wins Anti-Interference Injunction Against Samsung in Texas FRAND Case

Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas yesterday issued an order enjoining  Samsung Electronics from taking any action to interfere with Ericsson’s U.S. FRAND (“fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory” terms) lawsuit against Samsung in his court. Samsung had filed a lawsuit on December 7, 2020 in the Wuhan Intermediate People’s Court of China but did not provide notice to Ericsson of the action. “Unaware of the Chinese Action,” according to Judge Gilstrap’s order, Ericsson filed a complaint against Samsung on December 11, 2020 in the Texas court, alleging that Samsung breached its obligation to license its Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) on FRAND terms, and “notified Samsung of its Complaint in this Court that same day.” Samsung subsequently asked the Wuhan court to issue an “anti-suit injunction” (ASI) to prevent it from seeking relief relating to the SEPs at issue anywhere else in the world. The Wuhan Court issued the ASI on December 25 for the “duration of the Chinese Action and until a future judgment in that Action becomes effective.” The Wuhan Court gave Ericsson notice of the ASI after it had issued on December 25. Ericsson thus asked the Texas Court for an emergency temporary restraining order (TRO) on December 28, which the court granted.

Judge Rader Champions Chinese Courts, Samsung Responds to Ericsson in ED of TX/China FRAND Suit

In contrast to his one time colleague, former Federal Circuit Chief Judge Randall Rader earlier this month filed a Declaration supporting Samsung Electronics in its Opposition to Ericsson, Inc.’s Application for Anti-Interference Injunction relating to Samsung’s lawsuit in the Wuhan Intermediate People’s Court of China. Retired Federal Circuit Judge Paul Michel recently filed an amicus brief supporting Ericsson in the case and calling into question the procedures of the Wuhan court.

Former CAFC Chief Judge Michel Backs Ericsson in FRAND Dispute

On January 5, the Honorable Paul R. Michel filed an amicus brief in support of Ericsson’s Emergency Application for an Anti-Interference Injunction related to Samsung’s lawsuit filed in the Wuhan Intermediate People’s Court of China (the Wuhan Action). In response to Ericsson’s motion filed on December 28, 2020, the United States Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a temporary restraining order against Samsung in the FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing rates) lawsuit. Michel’s brief addressed the “substantial notice and due process concerns associated with [an] anti-suit injunction issued by the Wuhan Court.”