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Lenovo accelerates Ericsson dispute with unusual UPC and UK claims

Post Time:2024-02-19 Source:juve-patent Author:Mathieu Klos Views:

Lenovo and its subsidiary Motorola have taken the global dispute with Ericsson over 5G patents to the Unified Patent Court. In doing so, the Chinese mobile phone manufacturer is pursuing an unusual defence against Ericsson that centres in the UK. But, this week, Lenovo also suffered a setback in the US.

The global dispute between Lenovo and Ericsson over 5G patents originated in the US. In October 2023, Ericsson filed the first patent lawsuits with the Eastern District Court of North Carolina, followed by ITC complaints. Now the dispute has also reached the Unified Patent Court after Lenovo subsidiary Motorola filed two infringement suits with the Munich local division (case IDs: ACT_5326/2024 and ACT_5324/2024).

Both actions are in English and are based on an SEP. EP 3 342 086 protects a method and apparatus for low-latency transmission, while EP 3 780 758 protects a network slice selection based on application category in a wireless communication system.

However, Lenovo is not requesting a Europe-wide injunction from the UPC. The company is presumably taking into account its action at the UK High Court in London.

New claims in London

Last November, in response to the first US patent infringement and ITC cases filed by Ericsson, Lenovo filed a lawsuit to establish a global cross-licence. But instead of going on the offensive against Ericsson with Lenovo’s own patents, the company chose a different, more unusual path in London.

The Chinese company is trying to take the wind out of Ericsson’s sails by concentrating the dispute in the UK capital. A global FRAND cross-licence determination by the UK High Court could lead to global patent peace between the two opponents.

London is currently regarded as the central court for a FRAND determination in global patent disputes. The UK High Court judges are therefore open to this approach. According to reports, the court has asked the two companies to agree on an interim regime and to stop enforcing injunctions until a competent court decides on a FRAND rate.

It is also unusual that Lenovo, and not Ericsson which initiated the dispute, launched the first lawsuits at the UPC. Panasonic, for example, filed lawsuits against Xiaomi and Oppo in German and UK courts, and at the UPC in parallel.

Targeting other countries

That Panasonic filed twelve complaints with the UPC, and Lenovo launched only two. shows that the UPC is currently more of a side show in the battle. The two epicentres are, instead, the US and London.

Lenovo also announced that it has filed an claim based on one SEP with the UK High Court on 12 February. According to media reports, Lenovo asked the court for an PI against Ericsson in the UK, or an interim regime to stay any enforcement against one of the parties during the FRAND rate setting.

With this request, Lenovo is probably primarily targeting the PIs in Brazil and Colombia.

Developments in the US

Ericsson had initially concentrated on the two American continents, also seeing success with various ex parte preliminary injunction proceedings against Lenovo in Brazil and Colombia.

On 13 February, Lenovo failed to get a temporary restraining order from the Eastern District Court of North Carolina to prevent Ericsson from enforcing PIs in Brazil and Colombia.