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U.K. Supreme Court Permits SEP Holders to Require Worldwide FRAND Licenses

On August 26, 2020, the U.K. Supreme Court—the U.K.’s highest court—issued its highly anticipated decision in Unwired Planet International v. Huawei involving the “Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory” (“FRAND”) licensing of standard essential patents (“SEPs”) in the telecommunications space. The decision in several consolidated cases rejected all appeals from Huawei and ZTE and affirmed the decisions from the London High Court (Justice Birss) and Court of Appeals. The Court concluded that owners of patents essential to ETSI’s telecommunications standards (including 2G, 3G, and 4G (LTE)) can demand that an implementer practicing a U.K. SEP take a license on FRAND terms to all of the patent owner’s worldwide telecommunications SEPs, and can obtain an injunction should the implementer refuse. This decision has significant implications for FRAND licensing, assertion of SEPs, and antitrust issues both in the telecommunications context and more broadly.

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EU Rejects the Spanish Challenge to the Unified Patent Court


Time to Read: 1 minutes Practices: Intellectual Property

Today, the Court of Justice of the European Union issued its judgment, finally rejecting the "Spanish Challenge" to the Unitary Patent system (part of the Unified Patent Package, which includes the Unitary Patent Regulation, Regulation on Translations, and Unified Patent Court Agreement) signed back in December 2012. As reported previously, the Spanish challenge has been brewing since 2012, shortly after the Unified Patent Package was signed. The Spanish Challenge essentially argued that the new scheme was a breach of European Union law, and illegal, because it gave unnecessary authority to the European Patent Office and a subset of the EU member states, and because it did not integrate the Spanish language as an official language of the system.

Today's historic ruling makes a strong statement about the importance of the Unified Patent Package. The ruling states that the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court address “the complexity and particularly high costs of the current European patent protection system” which “affect adversely the capacity of European businesses to innovate and compete.” 

This ruling ends the debate, which began nearly 50 years ago in regard to unifying the patent system in Europe. This is the last hurdle. The system is now a-go, anticipated to start in 2016. All companies that have competitors in Europe, particularly where patents are relevant to their industry, will now need to take seriously this new court system and patent regime.

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