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Posts Tagged: "TCL v. Ericsson"

Using AI to Valuate and Determine Essentiality for SEPs

One of the major challenges when licensing, transacting, or managing Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) is that there is no public database that provides information about verified SEPs. Standard-setting organizations (SSOs) such as ETSI (4G / 5G), IEEE (Wi-Fi), or ITUT (HEVC/VVC) maintain databases of so-called self-declared patents to document the fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) obligation. However, SSOs do not determine whether any of the declared patents are essential, nor are the declarants required to provide any proof or updates. As a result, in the course of licensing negotiations, patent acquisitions, or litigation, the question about which patents are essential and which are not is one of the most debated when negotiating SEP portfolio value, royalties, or infringement claims. Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions have started to support the process of understanding how patent claims relate to standards to assess larger SEP portfolios without spending weeks and months and significant dollars on manual reviews by technical subject matter experts and counsel.

SCOTUS Denial of TCL v. Ericsson Petition Means Juries Decide Damages for SEP Infringement

On October 5, the United States Supreme Court denied TCL Communication’s petition for certiorari in TCL Communication Technology Holdings Ltd. V. Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson. Of course, the issue wasn’t quite as simple or straight forward as TCL suggested. While Ericsson was under a FRAND obligation, TCL was engaging in infringing activities during a period in which they had no license to use the Ericsson patents. Thus, the threshold question was really whether the relief sought was equitable or legal in nature. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in an opinion authored by Judge Raymond Chen and joined by Judges Pauline Newman and Todd Hughes, determined that the payment for past infringing activities sought a legal remedy requiring a jury trial under the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court’s decision not to grant certiorari lets stand this decision.

Mystery Science: What Lemley and His Colleagues Get Wrong in Their Push for SCOTUS to Review TCL v. Ericsson

In December 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision in a standard essential patent (SEP) appeal involving Ericsson and TCL Communication Technology—a closely watched case that many thought would shed light on what constitutes a FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) offer of a licensing royalty rate relative to standard essential patents (SEPs). TCL appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court on May 1 and several amicus briefs have now been filed in support of the petition being granted. Below are excerpts taken from the Summary of the Argument and the introduction to the Argument in the amicus filing by Mark Lemley and other professors. I’ve taken the liberty of providing my thoughts in the format of comments from the peanut gallery, or perhaps as a patent law equivalent to Mystery Science Theater 3000.

District Court Denies FRAND Breach of Contract and Sherman Act Summary Judgment Motions by ASUS and InterDigital

In a decision published in redacted form on January 29, Judge Beth Labson Freeman of the Northern District of California denied ASUSTek Computer Inc.’s and ASUS Computer International’s (collectively, ASUS’s) motion for summary judgment that InterDigital, Inc.’s (InterDigital’s) standard essential patent (SEP) licensing practices breached its FRAND obligations. The court also granted-in-part and denied-in-part InterDigital’s motion for summary judgment, rejecting a request to dismiss ASUS’s Sherman Antitrust Act claim but granting summary judgment as to issues relating to judicial and promissory estoppel and as to a California competition law claim. ASUS Computer Int’l v. InterDigital, Inc., Case No. 5:15-cv-01716-BLF, ECF No. 367 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 29, 2018). The court’s ruling comes as the case is progressing toward a jury trial, presently scheduled for May 2019. Several of the issues addressed are fact-specific to the case, but the rulings relating to breach of contract, most favorable licensees, and the Sherman Act are of particular interest for SEP licensing and illustrate how the legal landscape continues to evolve.