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Lenovo faces 5G injunction in Germany

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InterDigital secures victory as Munich court rules in favour of its SEP dispute | Ruling concerns InterDigital’s commitment to FRAND principles, but Lenovo declares plan to appeal | Ongoing parallel UK litigation concerns same tech 4G, 5G tech.

InterDigital has secured an injunction in a German court against Lenovo for infringing InterDigital’s standard-essential patents.

The Regional Court in Munich ruled in favour of the mobile, video, and AI technology company in its dispute against Lenovo for infringing its SEP covering 4G and 5G devices.

Josh Schmidt, chief legal officer at InterDigital, said: “The strength of our portfolio and the quality of our standards contributions have once again been recognised by a court.”

Schmidt hopes that following the court’s decision, Lenovo will “reverse course and finally take a fair and reasonable licence”.

The court affirmed InterDigital’s adherence to fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) principles throughout the dispute.

It was ruled that Lenovo was an unwilling licensee and had not followed widely recognised FRAND principles.

In a statement to IP Fray[1], Lenovo said it “respects” the efforts and investment that drive innovation, with the global tech company being both a licensor and a licensee of IP.

“Regarding the Interdigital case, we respect the Munich Court’s decision but do not agree with it given our belief that Interdigital has violated its own legal obligations to licence its technology on FRAND terms to either Lenovo or our third-party suppliers,” said Lenovo.

Access to standardised technology on FRAND terms is essential for the future of the global tech industry, and Lenovo pledged to “continue to fight for transparency” in licensing negotiations and against companies “seeking excessive rates for their patent portfolios”.

Lenovo described InterDigital’s patent licensing behaviours and fees as “unreasonable” saying it caused a disadvantage to German customers, especially by reducing access to the latest technologies and driving up prices for tech products.

“We look forward to the next stage of the proceedings and our appeal,” Lenovo concluded.

UK court hands blow to Lenovo

InterDigital initiated legal proceedings against Lenovo at the Regional Court of Munich in September 2023, alleging infringement of its standard essential patent.

Two days later, Lenovo filed a claim in London’s High Court, seeking to establish terms for a global license covering several of InterDigital’s SEPs.

On March 24, 2024, the English High Court ruled on Lenovo’s application for FRAND terms for a draft interim license and InterDigital’s application for a case management stay in favour of patent infringement proceedings in Munich.

This was the first time the English High Court considered a FRAND interim regime. [2]

Lenovo followed the guidelines set by the Patents Court in Kigen and the case Nokia v Oppo, seeking a declaration of FRAND terms for a license with InterDigital.

In previous proceedings, a FRAND rate of $0.175 for a license to InterDigital’s portfolio for Lenovo was determined. Lenovo proposed that the court maintain this rate as FRAND until the final trial decision.

However, the court found that the declarations in the English proceedings held only modest value, as they would not force InterDigital to agree to a license.

As a result, Lenovo’s application was dismissed.

The court also rejected InterDigital’s case management stay application, as no pending German proceedings would determine FRAND terms.

It warned patent holders seeking injunctions overseas to enforce rates higher than FRAND could draw the English court’s attention during case management.

Lenovo is represented by James Segan KC, Ravi Mehta and Femi Adekoya from Blackstone Chambers, instructed by Kirkland & Ellis.

InterDigital is represented by Mark Chacksfield KC from 8 New Square and Joanne Box from Brick Court Chambers, instructed by Richard Vary from Bird & Bird.

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