Posts Tagged: "SEPs"

5G RAN Developments: Landscape and Liability

Changes in the 5G radio access network (RAN) are likely to increase interest in monetizing patents essential to RAN equipment and operations (RAN SEPs). One of these changes is the significant increase in the volumes of equipment like radio units (RUs) expected over the next decade. For example, China alone plans to deploy 6 million 5G cells by 2027, at an average cell spend of $28,500. Other changes likely to spur 5G RAN licensing are the increase of new entrants to the RAN equipment market and the use of open source software and off-the-shelf hardware in new RAN deployments. These latter changes are driven by the new Open RAN model promoted by operators seeking to break vendor lock in and foster equipment democratization and price competition. These changes naturally could pose a threat to the traditional RAN equipment businesses

Tillis, Michel and Iancu Back Ericsson in Heated International FRAND Dispute with Samsung

In the latest phase of an international dispute between Samsung Electronics and Ericsson, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), Judge Paul Michel and former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Andrei Iancu have filed an amicus brief at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) supporting Ericsson and urging the CAFC to affirm the district court’s order granting an anti-interference injunction. That order enjoined Samsung from taking any action to interfere with Ericsson’s U.S. FRAND (“fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory” terms) lawsuit against Samsung in the Texas court.

5G RAN Developments: Challenges and Opportunities for Patent Licensing in a 5G Future

Much has been said about how 5G will better use the airwaves, giving wings to new communications between people and between devices. Little has been said though about how 5G could change markets and industries. The equipment market for the radio access network (RAN) is a good example of just one market that is now caught in the updraft of such change. Another market bound to rise is the market for patent licensing—and, in particular, standard essential patent licensing for 5G RAN. To help make sense of the 5G patent licensing market,  we have developed an AI-based 5G landscaping tool to help identify and weigh the relative patent portfolios (OPAL) and an indexed repository of all technical contributions made to 3GPP 2G-5G standardization work (OPEN).

The Fairness of FRAND: Patent Pools, SSO Policies and the Way Forward

Standard Essential Patents (SEPs), as the name suggests, are an essential set of patents used for the implementation of a standardized technology. This set of patents renders it impossible to implement or operate standard-compliant equipment without infringement. Does that mean every patent declared by any company is essential? In a word, no. This article intends to address this aspect in detail and pave way for licensees to save costs and pay for what they use in their implementations.

What the Latest Optis Wireless v. Apple Ruling Means for Patent Infringement Damages for SEPs

In a previous article, we considered the difference between a reasonable royalty for infringement of a U.S. patent and a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) rate for licensing standards essential patents (SEPs). Among other points, the article discussed the then ongoing case between Optis Wireless Technology, LLC et al. v. Apple Inc., Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-00066-JRG (E.D. Texas, September 10, 2020). Most recently, Judge Rodney Gilstrap issued an Opinion and Order as to Bench Trial Together with Supporting Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (“Opinion and Order”) and ordered Final Judgment be entered. This Opinion and Order sheds a little more light on the issue of damages for SEPs, including the role of exemplary damages for willful infringement, but also leaves some key questions unanswered.

Determining Essentiality: An Analysis of SEPs and Tips to Avoid Over-Declaration

A close examination of SEP databases reveals that a large number of patents that have been declared SEPs are not essential…. Patent owners are obliged to declare the patent as essential even if they are doubtful about its essentiality. Unfortunately, a few patent owners may intentionally proclaim many of their patents to be essential to gain benefits or a business advantage. In practice, there are multiple reasons potentially essential patents and patent applications might be rendered non-essential. For example, a patent could be granted with amendments that cause it to be no longer essential. Whenever implementers bargain for the licensing fees, they must examine whether certain patents are actually essential, which can stall negotiations and lead to litigation.

The New Madison Approach and the Harmonization of Antitrust and Patent Law: A Retrospective Summary

In a major 2018 speech, Justice Department Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Makan Delrahim enunciated a “New Madison Approach” (NMA) (a tribute to James Madison’s support for a strong patent system) designed to restore greater respect for efficiency-seeking patent transactions in antitrust enforcement (a 2020 law journal commentary discusses the NMA and the reactions it has elicited, both positive and negative). Consistent with the NMA, the Trump Administration Antitrust Division took a number of initiatives aimed at reducing perceived new antitrust risks associated with widely employed patent licensing practices (particularly those touching on standardization). Those new risks stemmed from Obama Administration pronouncements that seemed to denigrate patent rights, in the eyes of patent system proponents (see here, for example). Given this history, the fate (at least in the short term) of the NMA appears at best uncertain, as the new Biden Administration reevaluates the merits of specific Trump policies. Thus, a review of the NMA and the specific U.S. policy changes it engendered is especially timely. Those changes, seen broadly, began a process that accorded greater freedom to patent holders to obtain appropriate returns to their innovations through efficient licensing practices – practices that tend to promote the dissemination of new and improved technologies throughout the economy and concomitant economic welfare enhancement.   

Understanding Damages Calculation in SEP Litigation

Courts around the world have determined appropriate methodologies for calculating damages on standard essential patents (SEPs) for which patent holders have made an assurance to license on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. Determinations of patent holdup, licensee holdout, use of worldwide portfolio licensing, incremental value rule, etc. are included in these decisions. The court determines damages based on the below-referenced judgments and FRAND terms when reviewing SEP infringements. Under most patent laws, infringement damages are set based on factors including actual loss due to infringement, if the actual loss is difficult to determine, gains of the infringer, and if both actual loss and gains are not available—determination of appropriate multiples of a reasonable royalty fee. 

Inhofe Bill Would Authorize Commerce to Penalize Chinese Companies that Withhold Wireless SEP Licensing Fees

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) yesterday introduced the “Protecting American Innovation and Development (PAID) Act of 2021,” a bill that would give the U.S. Department of Commerce authority to hold accountable bad-actor Chinese companies that refuse to pay licensing and royalty fees to free-market developers of wireless technologies. Covered by standard essential patents (SEPs).

Ericsson Wins Anti-Interference Injunction Against Samsung in Texas FRAND Case

Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas yesterday issued an order enjoining  Samsung Electronics from taking any action to interfere with Ericsson’s U.S. FRAND (“fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory” terms) lawsuit against Samsung in his court. Samsung had filed a lawsuit on December 7, 2020 in the Wuhan Intermediate People’s Court of China but did not provide notice to Ericsson of the action. “Unaware of the Chinese Action,” according to Judge Gilstrap’s order, Ericsson filed a complaint against Samsung on December 11, 2020 in the Texas court, alleging that Samsung breached its obligation to license its Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) on FRAND terms, and “notified Samsung of its Complaint in this Court that same day.” Samsung subsequently asked the Wuhan court to issue an “anti-suit injunction” (ASI) to prevent it from seeking relief relating to the SEPs at issue anywhere else in the world. The Wuhan Court issued the ASI on December 25 for the “duration of the Chinese Action and until a future judgment in that Action becomes effective.” The Wuhan Court gave Ericsson notice of the ASI after it had issued on December 25. Ericsson thus asked the Texas Court for an emergency temporary restraining order (TRO) on December 28, which the court granted.

Ericsson Wins Temporary Restraining Order Over Samsung in ED TX FRAND Litigation

Earlier today, Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the United States Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a temporary restraining order against Samsung in a FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing rates) lawsuit filed by Ericsson on December 11, 2020. The Order gives Samsung until January 1, 2021 to file any opposition to the continuation of the temporary restraining order, and gives Ericsson until January 5, 2021 to respond if, or more likely when, Samsung, files an objection. At first glance to the trained eye this seems shocking, but as is so often the case in the world of standard essential patents (SEPs) and FRAND, there is much more than meets the eye.

FRAND-Related Statements for Cellular Wireless SEPS: Implementer Obligations (Part V)

This is the fifth and final article in a series of articles analyzing statements made by various entities in the cellular industry regarding licensing Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) on a Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) basis. The fourth article focused on the obligations of SEP owners in the process of FRAND licensing. This article considers the obligations of implementers.

Breaking the 5G Curve by Looking Beyond the U.S. Patent System

A wave of thousands of 5G Self-Declared Standard Essential Patents (SD-SEPs) applicable to everything from devices to network infrastructure is fast approaching. The value of these patents is 6-10% of the retail product value, if recent LTE SEPs court decisions are to be believed. However, ex ante 5G licensing rates announced by traditional licensors Qualcomm, Ericsson, Nokia, and Interdigital total around $18 (or 3.6%) on a $500 handset. Yet these licensors hold less than 17.4% of the relevant 5G SD-SEP families, which would make the total royalty burden 20% or higher. Implementers faced with high SEP licensing cost and uncertainty typically mitigate risk by: (1) using licensed components, (2) receiving indemnification, and (3) leveraging defensive portfolios. But there is another strategy that should be considered given the tools which are now available: preemptively challenging patent family validity in foreign jurisdictions that are relatively quick, inexpensive and often more effective.

Damages for Patent Infringement versus FRAND Licensing Rates

During a recent panel discussion at IP Watchdog’s SEP 2020 Conference, a question arose as to the difference, if any, between a reasonable royalty for infringement of a U.S. patent and a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) rate for licensing standards essential patents (SEPs). The following discusses this question and highlights some recent related judicial developments. According to an article titled “The Effect of FRAND Commitments on Patent Remedies”, appearing in the Utah Law Faculty Scholarship (hereinafter “Contreas et al.”), “there appears to be nothing in U.S. law that compels courts to utilize either the Georgia-Pacific framework, or patent damages law in general, to determine royalties complying with an SEP holder’s FRAND commitment”. The authors further note that “these two concepts (patent damages and FRAND royalty rates) arose via different historical pathways and are intended to achieve different goals”; the former being rooted in statutes and case law, the latter being contractual in origin.

SEP Owner Obligations: Analyzing FRAND Statements for Cellular Wireless SEPS (Part IV)

This is the fourth in a series of articles analyzing statements made by various entities in the cellular industry regarding licensing Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) on a Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) basis. The third article considered the royalty base to which FRAND rates apply. This article focuses on statements made regarding the obligations of SEP owners in the process of FRAND licensing.