Sunday, 4 December 2011

Christmas: not so sad for Nokia?

On Tuesday, in "Failure to reach FRAND terms may make it a sad Christmas for HTC", PatLit posted this upbeat piece from IPCom which observed, among other things, that the company was in dispute with Nokia, which had so far declined to take licences to use its patents. This weblog has since received a 'corrective' from Nokia which seeks to set out its own position.  Nokia comments thus:
"Though Nokia does not normally comment on legal proceedings which we are not involved in, comments made by IPCom in its press release about patent #100 (EP 1 186 189 B1) and Nokia require correction.

IPCom claims that the algorithm described in patent #100 has been “adopted as a standard by equipment makers worldwide”. What it does not say is that the functionality is not used by any network in Germany or elsewhere. IPCom also fails to mention that, subsequent to the finding of infringement against HTC, the Federal Patent Court in Germany found the patent invalid as granted but allowed amendments which narrowed the scope of the patent in such a way that nobody implementing the standard could infringe what remains.

IPCom states that it is “seeking similar injunctions against Nokia with regard to this and a number of other standard-essential patents”. By doing so, IPCom is explicitly failing to meet its obligations as an owner of alleged standards-essential patents, which include commitments not to seek injunctions against willing licensees. Following a Nokia complaint to the European Commission, IPCom declared in December 2009 its intent to honour these commitments but its behaviour continues to fall short of these commitments.

IPCom states its hope “that Nokia will swiftly recognize that it … needs to come to terms with IPCom”. Nokia was prepared to take a licence to the portfolio on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms before IPCom began legal actions against us in December 2007. However, IPCom has continually failed to make any offer of terms that could be considered FRAND. Instead, IPCom has chosen to pursue an aggressive strategy of legal actions against Nokia. During the past four years, of all of the 54 IPCom patents which have come to judgment in the UK, Germany and elsewhere, none has been found valid as granted, suggesting that its claims for the value of its portfolio have been grossly overstated.

Nokia had two further EPO hearings last week.

In decisions in the Hague and Munich, the European Patent Office has ruled two further IPCom patents (EP 1 258 110, #116 and EP 1 085 716, #070) as invalid as granted. This brings to 56 the total number of patents found invalid as granted or conceded as invalid by IPCom.

“These two decisions, together with those on the previous 54 IPCom patents which have come to judgment, show that the value of IPCom’s portfolio has been grossly overestimated,” says Paul Melin, VP intellectual property at Nokia. “Rather than continuing its aggressive attempts to extract unrealistic licensing terms and mislead the public, it’s time for IPCom to come to terms with reality"".

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