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How does the Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Oppo avoid the German sales ban?

02. 02. 2023 Thursday / By: Robert Denes / Generic / Exact time: BST / Print this page

In fact, the Chinese manufacturer Oppo is not allowed to sell its smartphones in Germany. The reason: a patent dispute with Nokia. However, some stores still offer the devices. The reason is a clever trick of the Chinese.

Coolblue's brand new, sleek flagship store in Düsseldorf's Köbogen is buzzing with activity. iPhones are right at the top of the Dutch electronics retailer's business, followed a bit further back by models from Samsung and Xiaomi. And there's something very special at one table: nine different models from Oppo and their premium brand, OnePlus.

In fact, the tools shouldn't even be there. The world's third largest smartphone manufacturer will not be able to sell its phones in Germany from July 2022. The district court in Mannheim issued a sales ban because Oppo is using two patents that Nokia has registered for the international mobile phone standard - and for which it has not paid license fees since 2021.

But the Chinese continue. Oppo currently has to pay a fine of 100,000 euros in two cases because it ignored the ban and sold the devices on its own website and on Amazon's e-commerce platform last fall.

Does the manufacturer dare to challenge the law for the third time? It seems that even if upon closer analysis, Oppo has a trick behind it. This is an episode in the episode debate between telecom giants Nokia and Oppo. The two sides are suing each other in 20 different courts around the world. Of the 13 patent families that Nokia is suing for infringement in Germany, Oppo has fended off nine, seven of them at least for the time being.

And Germany plays a central role. Because no court in the world has judged as harshly as Mannheim and Munich. The Indonesian court rejected all five of Nokia's claims. In Great Britain, the court agreed with Nokia, but refrained from a sales ban for the time being. The Dutch court also found Nokia's two patents infringed, but did not consider the order appropriate.

The sales ban on Oppo and OnePlus in Germany will remain in place for the foreseeable future. Oppo appeals against the 200,000-euro fine: "We do not agree with the decision of the first-instance court," Oppo responded to WiWo's inquiry. The case is currently being investigated by an appeals court: "We will continue to defend our position and comply with the laws of Germany."

Oppo cannot sell, ship or advertise smartphones in this country that use Nokia's patents. Dealers, on the other hand, are not bound by the sales ban in this country. In the Netherlands, however, Oppo can still deliver.

That's why the market leader there, Coolblue, as a retailer based in Rotterdam, can afford to buy smartphones without any hassle and sell them throughout Germany in its Dusseldorf store and on its website. If Nokia wanted to prevent this as well, it could go to court for a customs seizure. However, given the open borders of the EU, this would hardly be possible.

Accordingly, the Oppo Nokia can dance a little undisturbed. "Oppo Germany and OnePlus Germany do not cooperate with Coolblue," Oppo said when asked.

However, Nokia can also sue Coolblue itself in Germany. That would be another procedure. In addition to the several dozen already running.

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