Nokia won the first battle in the dispute against Daimler

17. 01. 2021 Sunday / By: Robert Denes / Industrial / Exact time: BST / Print this page

Nokia won a long-running patent battle with Daimler, a German carmaker, because the European Patent Office confirmed the validity of one of Nokia's most important patents. True, we must note that this is only a victory among several (10) fights.

You have read several times before that Nokia is suing Daimler in several German courts for patent infringement. According to Nokia, Daimler has refused to license its standard core patents for mobile telecommunications methods that are increasingly used in vehicles.

In response, Daimler challenged the validity of Nokia's patents before the EPO and the German Federal Patent Court. Earlier this week, the EPO discussed the first case of validity challenges and upheld one of Nokia’s patents in question.

The patent (EP2087626), which is one of the 10 cited by Nokia, is part of the company’s SEP portfolio, which covers the 3G Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) standard. The patent is also contained in an infringement case pending before a Munich court in July.

“We are pleased with the EPO decision, which upheld the validity of our patent. This once again demonstrates the strength of Nokia’s portfolio and provides further evidence in support of our case against Daimler,” a Nokia spokesperson said.

“It’s time for Daimler to do the right thing and agree a licence on the same fair terms as many other car companies. Our door remains open for constructive dialogue,” the spokesperson added.

One of the main issues in the debate is who needs to get a license for telecom SEPs, such as those owned by Nokia. Patent holders argue that end-level manufacturers such as Daimler should pay royalties, while automakers say the patent should be further licensed in the supply chain.

This will be one of the key issues when the dispute is heard by the EU Supreme Court. The Düsseldorf Regional Court, one of the German courts involved in the dispute, was referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) last November. Nokia has appealed the referral.

Daimler calls for greater clarity from the CJEU on what rules should govern the authorization of SEPs under EU law. The German competition authority has also expressed interest and took the unusual step last year of asking a Mannheim court to refer the case to the CJEU.

As the deadlock between patent holders and automakers has spread to extensive litigation, the European Commission has promised to try to “reduce friction” and will see out-of-court disputes settled.

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