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Indian court gives opportunity to set global Frand rate

20. 11. 2023 Monday / By: Robert Denes / Business / Exact time: BST / Print this page

D elhi High Court judge Prathiba Singh has opened up the possibility of a global FRAND rate determination from India for the first time amid a licensing dispute between Nokia and Chinese handset giant Oppo. This significantly indicates the willingness of Indian courts to set interest rates and could radically change India's position in global SEP strategies.

For the Delhi court to act, he said, Nokia would have to withdraw its litigation in the High Court of England and Wales, and Oppo would have to withdraw in China. But although the Finnish company has accepted these terms, IAM understands that Oppo will not stop fighting in China.

However, this is not entirely surprising given that Oppo currently holds the largest market share among mobile device manufacturers in the country. The Chinese portion of Nokia's global 5G SEP license dispute is currently pending before the Chongqing First Intermediate People's Court, where the hearing has been completed but no verdict has yet been reached.

At hearings on October 6 and 31, Nokia consented to India setting global interest rates, details of which were published on the court's website earlier this month. During those hearings, Judge Prathiba Singh also suggested that the two sides settle the case through an expedited process for both SEPs and non-SEPs, instead of the court ruling on Nokia's request for a temporary injunction.

Oppo has agreed to expedite the SEP and non-SEP lawsuits, while Nokia has yet to agree. The Finnish SEP owner has issued several injunctions against Oppo in Europe, including in the UK in September. In India, Nokia successfully got a division of the Delhi High Court to order Oppo to pay an interim security deposit equal to 23% of the parties' 2018 patent license agreement. The Supreme Court of India upheld this decision a month later. However, Nokia's plea for interim relief is still pending before the Delhi High Court.

But according to Vivek Ranjan, a partner at Delhi-based Singh and Singh, if Oppo agreed to Judge Singh's FRAND rate proposal, it would make India a "global target" for FRAND litigation. Jurisdiction has become an increasingly attractive venue for such disputes – and the existence of a neutral forum would only increase that appeal. “India has evolved, particularly when Indian courts have issued injunctions against Indian parties for SEP violations,” he notes.

In the report, Nokia drew attention to the importance of achieving favorable results in these disputes in order to improve the company's medium-term financial performance:

"Assuming that outstanding litigation/renewal negotiations are concluded, we expect largely stable operating profit at Nokia Technologies in 2023." However, Nokia "continues to prioritize protecting the value of its portfolio over meeting set deadlines," the report said.

Oppo declined to comment on the ongoing dispute.

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