Tech companies to strike global deals with patent holders in the UK according to new Supreme Court ruling
One of the world’s leading smartphone manufacturer, Huawei, has lost a lawsuit over technology licensing which could have turned London into a hub for global patent litigation but as it stands, the ruling may affect licensing costs for all phone manufacturers.
The UK’s apex court gave the verdict that English courts have the power to require global patent license from telecommunication companies and smartphone manufacturers or they will be liable to face a UK court injunction.
The decision has been welcomed by many as a major intellectual property ruling in recent years considering the fact that, it comes at the advantage of patent holders and could lead to steeper licensing costs for mobile phone manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung and Huawei.
The case has running for a long time now in court. Huawei brought the case in 2014 when it was accused of infringing intellectual property belonging to an American company by name, Unwired Planet-which had acquired a number of patents covering wireless connectivity from Ericsson in 2013.
In 2017, the Chinese company was ordered by a High Court to pay a global license fee for infringing two UK patents or face a court injunction. Huawei, appealed against the ruling to the Supreme Court, arguing that it should pay only license fees for the technology in the UK which is a relatively small market rather than on its entire global sales.
Lord Patrick Hodge, Deputy President of the Supreme Court, dismissed the appeal as well as another appeal from Huawei and ZTE brought against an American company, Conversant. The two Chinese companies had argued that English courts were not authorized to determine the validity of foreign patents. Lodge Hodge however confirmed on Wednesday that the courts have the power to grant an injunction to restrain infringement of a UK patent once a company refuses to take out a global license of a multinational patent portfolio.
This decision will compel any tech company that sells devices in the UK to strike global deals with patent holders such as Unwired Planet, which has a long history of litigation against the likes of Samsung, Apple and Google.
This ruling may be the “final blow” to Huawei which is already under fire for its alleged connection with the Chinese government and was banned by the UK government from supplying Britain’s new kit for 5G mobile phone networks from next year based on national security concerns.