For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Nokia v IPCom: if you liked the case, you'll love the conference ...

"At last -- we' ve managed to make
a handset that doesn't infringe
anyone's patents!"
A week and a half ago this weblog posted Matt Fisher's comment on Nokia v IPCom which was subtitled "Round Two of the English Leg of the International Patent Battle". That comment explained the background to the litigation, which it characterised as something of a soap opera.  Given the fact that the dispute is long-running, has a cast of well-known characters, contains all sorts of unexpected twists and turns and exposes the apparently irrational behaviour of players with deeply-held, movingly-articulated positions, the analogy with a soap opera is not unkind.  The main difference between Nokia v IPCom is this, though: the characters in soap operas are  not real people: their often bizarre and chaotic responses to the positions in which they find themselves are scripted and deprive them of any freedom of action. In contrast the players in Nokia v IPCom are real -- and here we are talking of corporate decision-makers, investors and shareholders -- and their interests are real too.

The roots of the dispute go back to 2003, when IPCom acquired a portfolio of mobile telephone patents from Robert Bosch GmbH and Nokia chose not to take a licence to them. Obviously there is a matter of principle on both sides: no normal patent owner chooses to allow a prospective licensee to use patents without a licence, while no business chooses to take a licence to patents when there is no compelling legal reason for it to do so.  Be that as it may, a series of infringement claims and revocation counterclaims ensued and there probably came a point at which each party felt it had invested so much in the dispute that it could not walk away from it even if it might have been cheaper for it to do so. Game theorists are familiar with scenarios such as this.

These musings have been sparked off by the timely appearance (is it coincidence or cunning, the Kat wonders?) of a Butterworths Conference fortuitously titled "International High-Technology Patent Litigation", which is coming up somewhere in London on 27 September. The programme doesn't go in for all that pacifist stuff about technological standards and Fair and Reasonable Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licences, which have recently featured heavily in Keith Mallinson's trilogy of posts for IP Finance (here, here and here) but cuts to the chase with a full-blooded review of high-tech patent litigation in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, China and the USA. Ian Purvis QC (11 South Square) is speaking on patent litigation in the UK; his bullet-points, listing Speed, Cost and Procedural Advantages as being among the benefits conferred by suing in the UK.  This would have been truly unthinkable only a few years ago when everyone was still making comments about England and Wales's Rolls Royce court system (for the benefit of younger readers, this meant that the courts were technically very good at achieving justice, but hardly anyone could afford to use them).  Another attraction is a chance to hear Richard Vary Nokia UK's Director of European Litigation and (in this Kat's opinion) as sage and sensible a person as one can ever hope to meet within the wonderful world of IP, talking about his own company's experiences. Too good to miss? If any of the Kat's friends is going to be there, a good report for posting on this weblog will be worth a pint of Badger to its author ...

Full details of the programme for ""International High-Technology Patent Litigation" can be found here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It still is a Rolls-Royce system: look at October's Patent Court listings --
HC10C03617 TLC 893/10
United Technologies v Rolls Royce

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