Magistrate Judge Payne recently ruled against prospective licensee T-Mobile’s motion to dismiss patent owner Huawei’s Declaratory Judgment Complaint that seeks a declaration that Huawei  complied with its FRAND commitments to ETSI regarding LTE standard-essential patents during Huawei’s license negotiations with T-Mobile.  Judge Payne did not rule whether or not Huawei had complied with its licensing negotiations; rather, he simply indicated that there was sufficient controversy between the parties and concern that T-Mobile might bring a breach of contract action against Huawei that the court could exercise declaratory judgment subject-matter jurisdiction to resolve the FRAND-compliance dispute.  This is a procedural ruling that is subject to review by the presiding district court judge, Judge Gilstrap.

This decision is interesting because it supports a way for patent owners with large SEP portfolios to resolve FRAND or other licensing disputes in a single action and, thereby, avoid complex and expensive patent infringement litigations on a patent-by-patent basis.  But the devil is in the details and we will await further developments as the case proceeds.
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On Friday, January 4, 2013, a non-practicing entity named Steelhead Licensing LLC filed a litany of SEP-related lawsuits in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware against various wireless device manufacturers and cellular carriers.  Each of the entities is accused of infringing a single, soon-to-expire (on Feb. 13) patent — U.S. Pat. No. 5,491,834, entitled “Mobile Radio Handover Initiation Determination.”
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