Yesterday, InterDigital announced that it signed “a multi-year, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty bearing patent license agreement” with Huawei, bringing an end to the companies’ SEP litigation in China and the U.K. over FRAND terms for InterDigital patents essential to 3G, 4G, and 5G wireless telecommunication standards. InterDigital’s press release states the new agreement “covers certain of Huawei’s products and certain of InterDigital’s essential patents” and that the companies have agreed to dismiss all pending litigation between them.  

In addition to resolving a significant overhang that the dispute posed to InterDigital’s licensing business, we anticipate the Huawei agreement could feature prominently in InterDigital’s defense against Lenovo’s newly filed antitrust claims, particularly those predicated on an alleged failure to license its patents on FRAND terms (see our April 28, 2020 post). Quoting InterDigital President and CEO William Merritt, the press release may preview the tone of InterDigital’s response in the Lenovo case by noting that the Huawei agreement “underscores the fairness and flexibility of our licensing approach, including our rate and portfolio transparency, which set an industry standard.”  
Continue Reading InterDigital pens SEP license agreement with Huawei as Lenovo Dispute escalates

On April 7, 2020, the U.S. International Trade Commission issued its Notice of Opinion in Investigation No. 337-TA-1089, essentially reversing Chief Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Bullock’s Initial Determination and declining to issue remedial orders blocking SK Hynix products from the sale in or import to the U.S. The ITC found that no remedy was warranted, as patent owner Netlist (complainant) failed to establish that Korean-based SK Hynix infringed the asserted patents and failed to meet the technical prong of the ITC’s domestic industry requirement. A redacted Public Version of Commission Opinion of the Commission Opinion was posted April 21, 2020 

The ITC did not address standard essential patent issues beyond finding that ALJ Bullock erred in ruling that the JEDEC Patent Policy was unenforceable because the terms “reasonable” and “nondiscriminatory” were too ambiguous under New York law: 

[T]he Commission has determined to reverse the ALJ’s findings that the ‘907 patent is essential to a JEDEC standard and that the JEDEC Patent Policy is unenforceable, has determined to affirm the ALJ’s finding that the ‘623 patent is not shown to be essential to a JEDEC standard, and has determined to vacate all other finding relating to obligations to license on reasonable and nondiscrimatory terms. 
Continue Reading ITC avoids SEP FRAND issues by finding patents not infringed (Netlist v. Hynix, 337-TA-1089)

On April 9, 2020, Lenovo and Motorola Mobility filed a Complaint against InterDigital in the District of Delaware alleging InterDigital violated U.S. antitrust law and contractual FRAND commitments by its standard setting participation and licensing practices related to 3G and 4G standard essential patents (SEPs). The Complaint is the most recent development in a larger patent dispute between the companies and alleges that InterDigital has engaged in a multi-pronged scheme, through a combination of agreements with its competitors and fraudulent promises, to unlawfully acquire, maintain, and exploit such market or hold-up power arising solely from the alleged essentiality of patents it contends have been incorporated into the Cellular Standards.  

A short background and summary of the Complaint is included below. 
Continue Reading Lenovo, Motorola file antitrust claims against InterDigital’s standards setting participation and patent licensing practice (Lenovo v. InterDigital)

On April 3, 2020, Judge Selna issued an Order in the TCL v. Ericsson case upon remand from the Federal Circuit, teeing the matter up for a jury trial on all liability and FRAND issues in the case to be heard at the same time
Continue Reading Judge Selna will hold jury trial on all SEP issues on remand (TCL v. Ericsson)

On March 2, 2020, Judge Gilstrap issued an Order granting-in-part Apple’s motion to dismiss a declaratory judgment claim by Optis to the extent the claim related to FRAND commitments for foreign standard essential patents (SEPs).   But he maintained the action as to FRAND commitments for U.S. patents.  This decision may be part of a trend for U.S. courts respecting comity with other countries by limiting disputes over SEPs and FRAND commitments to U.S. patents in the absence of consent by both parties to adjudicate issues concerning foreign SEPs.
Continue Reading Judge Gilstrap dismisses foreign SEP FRAND claims in global SEP feud, but maintains claims on US SEPs (Optic Wireless v. Apple)

On January 29, 2020, Caltech prevailed in its Central District of California jury trial against Apple and Broadcom, where the jury found both Broadcom (who supplied WiFi chips) and Apple (who sold products with the Broadcom WiFi chips) infringed all five asserted claims of Caltech’s U.S. Patent Nos. 7,116,710, 7,7421,032, and 7,916,781, and awarded over $1.1 billion in total damages. The case marks what appears to be the largest verdict awarded on standard essential patents (SEPs) that were not subject to any standard-setting commitment (i.e., no RAND commitment).  

The Jury Verdict shows that the jury found neither Broadcom nor Apple had willfully infringed any of the asserted claims and awarded Caltech running royalties in the amount of $837,801,178 for Apple’s infringement and $270,241,171 for Broadcom’s. The jury was not asked to make any findings on issues related to validity or any affirmative defenses or counterclaims, focusing solely on infringement and damages. 

The parties currently are filing post-trial motions in which Apple/Broadcom are asking the trial court to enter judgment in their favor and overturn the jury verdict.  The post-trial filings also include Caltech’s request for a permanent injunction.  The trial court may decide those motions in the next couple months.


Continue Reading Caltech gets $1.1 billion verdict against Apple, Broadcom on SEPs that had no RAND commitment

Oral Argument in the appeal of Judge Koh’s FTC v. Qualcomm decision is schedule to take place February 13, 2020 before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to consider whether and to what extent competition law should apply to licensing standard essential patents (SEPs). This appears to be the most important and impactful U.S. case so far on the issue and could have far reaching impact on domestic and foreign SEP licensing.

The Court will hear from Qualcomm and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and has also allotted the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) five minutes to present as amicus curiae during the argument. In addition to the parties-at-interest and DOJ, twenty-two amicus briefs have been lodged in the case by other companies, licensors, industry groups, academics, and interested parties. In fact, due to public interest in the case, the Ninth Circuit has created a separate website dedicate to the appeal, “to notify the media and public of procedures and rules for admission to proceedings, as well as access to case information.” The FTC also maintains its own website on the litigation that includes all the FTC’s filings and public statements regarding the proceedings.

In anticipation of the upcoming hearing, we’re provide this summary of the appeal issues and topics raised by the amicus briefs. As usual, we provide links to the filings and encourage you to read through them yourself.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit to Hear Argument Feb. 13 from FTC, DOJ and Qualcomm on Competition Law’s Applicability to SEP Licensing (FTC v.Qualcomm)

Today the Federal Circuit vacated Judge Selna’s bench trial decision in the much-watched TCL v. Ericsson case, ruling that Ericsson has the right to a jury trial to  determine  compensation for past infringement of Ericsson’s standard essential patents (SEPs) under the Seventh Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  So this case involving a FRAND computation method

Today, the Ninth Circuit issues an Order that stays Judge Koh’s injunction entered in the FTC v. Qualcomm case in order to maintain the status quo so that the Ninth Circuit can decide whether Judge Koh’s “order and injunction represent a trailblazing application of the antitrust laws, or instead an improper excursion beyond the outer limits of the Sherman Act”, which is not decided by this Order but “is a matter for another day.”

We provide a summary of the ruling below and, as always, recommend reading the 7-page Order for yourself (see link in first sentence above).   The Ninth Circuit has not decided the substantive issues–that will be done on “another day”–but did indicate that Qualcomm had raised meritorious arguments that (1) Qualcomm was not required to license its SEPs to rival chip suppliers and (2) Qualcomm could assess royalties on its SEPs on a per-handset basis (rather than based on modem chip component of the handset).

As far as next steps, the parties and interested amicus on all sides of the issue are preparing briefing on an expedited schedule in preparation for a hearing at the Ninth Circuit in January 2020.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Stays Judge Koh’s Injuncton in the FTC v. DOJ Competition Brawl (FTC v. Qualcomm)

And the dance has officially begun in the U.S. inter-governmental dispute about applying competition law to the technical standard setting process between the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and we all have an invitation to the brawl.  DOJ filed an Amicus Brief that supports Qualcomm’s request that the Ninth