Posts

Anti-Suit Injunction Issued in China: Comity, Pragmatism and Rule of Law

1 Anti-suit Injunctions issued in Huawei v Conversant and Xiaomi v Intel Digital

Chinese courts have issued two anti-suit injunctions recently in cross-border patent cases. The first is the Supreme Court’s ruling in Huawei v Conversant, (2019) Zui Gao Fa Zhi Min Zhong 732, 733 and 734 No 1. (here) Huawei, a Chinese telecom giant brought an action on 25 Jan 2018 in Jiangsu Nanjing Intermediate Court requiring determination of FRAND royalty for all Chinese patents held by Conversant that is essential to 2G, 3G and 4G standard (standard essential patent or ‘SEP’). Conversant brought another action in Düsseldorf, Germany on 20 April 2018 claiming Huawei infringed its German patents of the same patent family. On 16 Sept 2019, the Chinese court ordered a relatively low rate pursuant to Chinese standard and Conversant appealed to the Supreme Court on 18 Nov 2019. On 27 Aug 2020, the German Court held Huawei liable and approved the FRAND fee proposed by Conversant, which is 18.3 times of the rate determined by the Chinese court. Pursuant to Huawei’s application, the Chinese Supreme Court restrained Conversant from applying the German court to enforce the German judgment. The reasons include: the enforcement of the Düsseldorf judgment would have a negative impact on the case pending in Chinese court; an injunction is necessary to prevent irreparable harm to Huawei; the damage to Conversant by granting the injunction is significantly smaller than the damage to Huawei if not granting injunction; injunction will not harm public interest or international comity.

Unwired Planet v Huawei [2020] UKSC 37: The UK Supreme Court Declared Competence to Determine Global FRAND Licensing Rate

 

  1. Background

The UK Supreme Court delivered the landmark judgment on Unwired Planet v Huawei and Conversant v Huawei and ZTE, [2020] UKSC 37 on 26 Aug 2020. In 2014, the US company Unwired Planet sued Huawei and other smartphone manufacturers for infringing its UK patents obtained from Ericsson. Some of these patents are essential to the 2G, 3G and 4G wireless telecommunication standards set by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), an international standards setting organization (SSO). Since Ericsson and Nokia are subject to various ETSI policies including patent policies, these policies continue to apply after they are acquired by Unwired Planet. The ETSI patent policy requires that holder of patents that are indispensable for the implementation of ETSI standards, referred to as standard essential patents (SEP) , must grant licence to implementers (such as the smartphone manufacturers) on “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory ” (FRABD) terms. In 2017, Canadian company Conversant filed similar lawsuits against Huawei and ZTE.

Unwired Planet and Conversant proposed to grant the worldwide licence, but Huawei proposed a UK only licence. Huawei believes that the UK litigation only concerns the UK licence and the licence fees paid to resolve disputes under the UK procedure should cover only British patents and not global patents. The UK Supreme Court upheld the High Court and Court of Appeal judgments, ruling that the FRAND licence will need to be global between large multinational companies. If Huawei refuses to pay the FRAND global licence rate determined by the court, the court will issue an injunction restraining Huawei’s sale of infringing products in the UK.