Judge Gilstrap recently issued an Order rejecting the equitable defense of patent misuse in a case involving standard essential patents (SEPs) subject to a commitment to license them on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.  Motorola Mobility LLC (Motorola) alleged that Saint Lawrence Communications LLC (St. Lawrence or SLC) was guilty of patent misuse by, among other things, requiring Motorola to take a worldwide license to FRAND-committed SEPs, using the threat of injunctive relief in Germany to coerce licensing of those SEPs, entering different license terms with different licensees and not disclosing effective royalties from licensing the SEPs under a patent pool when negotiating individual licenses.  This decision is another indication that competition law claims asserted against SEPs may not prevail when patent owners have followed traditional patent enforcement and licensing strategies or even if they breach of a FRAND commitment.  Rather, there must be something more egregious or deceptive with the particular patent owner’s conduct at issue to give rise to competition law claims that are required to address harm to competition beyond harm that can be addressed by more traditional patent or contract law remedies — e.g., a contract remedy for breach of a FRAND commitment or limits on patent remedies based on a FRAND commitment.
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Judge Gilstrap recently ruled that  certain challenges to a damages expert’s testimony  went toward the weight a jury could give that testimony, rather than whether the testimony should be admitted.  Specific FRAND-related portions of the testimony that he would admit at trial include the following:

  • Expert could testify that the hypothetical FRAND royalty rate to be awarded for infringement damages (which presumes the patents are valid and infringed) would be higher than the royalty rate of a comparable FRAND license, which comparable license’s royalty rate may have been skewed low based on discounts made for litigation risks and costs.
  • Expert could testify about FRAND royalties that the accused infringer charges for its own SEPs.
  • Expert could testify about licenses negotiated in the context of German litigation and threat of injunction.

Judge Gilstrap indicated that the expert had sufficiently identified what he relied on and explained adjustments that he made to those proposed comparable licenses to account for differences from the hypothetical negotiated license.  The defendant’s challenges to that testimony goes to the weight the jury should give the testimony, not its admissibility.

Judge Gilstrap’s ruling is an interesting example of how FRAND litigation has matured since taking the main stage in Judge Robart’s first-of-its-kind FRAND royalty decision in Microsoft v. Motorola (see our May 1, 2013 post) and Judge Holderman’s following decision in In re Innovatio (see our Oct. 3, 2013 post).  Both of those 2013 decisions were based on, inter alia, a general failure of litigants to present sufficiently comparable licenses.  Since then, Federal Circuit decisions have leaned toward admitting comparable licenses where expert testimony sufficiently accounts for differences from the hypothetical negotiated license.

For example, the Federal Circuit’s 2014 Virnetx decision (a non-SEP case) counseled that, although “alleging loose or vague comparability … does not suffice,” a jury may consider comparable licenses where differences from the hypothetically negotiated license are explained to them (see our Sep. 17, 2014 post).  And the Federal Circuit’s 2015 Ericsson decision (an SEP FRAND case) stressed that, although real world licenses “are almost never perfectly analogous to the infringement action,” the jury may consider them if expert testimony accounts for “distinguishing facts when invoking them to value the patented invention.” (see our Dec. 5, 2015 post).  Litigants following the Federal Circuit’s guidance may find courts more willing to allow expert testimony on proposed comparable licenses despite their differences from the hypothetical negotiated license.


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Last Friday, Apple and Google reportedly agreed to dismiss all current lawsuits between them, including standard essential patent cases involving Motorola Mobility that Google recently sold to Lenovo.  The three-sentence joint statement by Apple and Google indicates that their agreement does not include any cross license (to SEPs or otherwise), stating:

Apple and Google have

Back in June, we alerted you to a number of infringement suits brought by licensors to the MPEG LA ATSC patent pool in the Southern District of Florida, targeting several television  manufacturers — ViewSonic, Craig Electronics, and Curtis International.  Yesterday, a different group of MPEG LA licensors filed suit on patents related to a different

Back in 2011, Intellectual Ventures fired off a patent infringement complaint against Motorola Mobility in the District of Delaware.  That case is scheduled to go to trial early in 2014  But today, Intellectual Ventures upped the ante, announcing that it has filed a second patent infringement complaint against Google subsidiary Motorola Mobility, choosing this time

Last week we discussed a couple of amicus briefs in the Apple-Motorola Federal Circuit appeal that addressed standard-essential patent issues.  Intel supported Apple’s view that injunctions should generally not be available for FRAND-pledges SEPs, while Qualcomm supported Motorola’s contention that there is no such blanket restriction.  In this post, we’ll address two more briefs, both of which were filed by parties supporting Apple: (1) the Business Software Alliance, which is a trade association of software and hardware technology companies; and (2) a group of law school professors.


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On March 5, 2013 at 2:00pm, the Intellectual Property Owners Association is holding a webinar to discuss the potential implications that the FTC-Google consent decree may have on the world of standard-essential patents.  The webinar is taking place as part of of IPO’s weekly IP Chat Channel series.  David W. Long, a member of Dow Lohnes’s Litigation group and a co-author of The Essential Patent Blog, will be one of the webinar presenters.  Details on the webinar and information on how to register for it is after the jump.
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FTCWe’ve finally sifted through the many public comments submitted in response to the FTC-Google consent decree and proposed order.  As we noted Monday, over two dozen individuals, companies, and organizations representing a wide range of interests submitted comments.  Later this week, we will do a post featuring the details of some of the post submitted by interested companies, such as Apple, Ericsson, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Research In Motion.  But today, we are going to focus on the comments that have been submitted by other types of organizations, which include a veritable alphabet soup of interest groups, professional organizations, and industry or trade associations.
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