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IPCom and Lenovo settle global dispute before French court delivers verdict

IPCom and Lenovo have settled a global dispute over mobile communication patents, signing a licensing agreement covering IPCom's 3G and 4G patents. Litigation in France, the US and the UK is now over, although the French judges had been expected to release their judgment on the same day as the parties reached the settlement.

11 April 2023 by Mathieu Klos

IPCom and Lenovo have ended their global dispute with a settlement, on the same day the parties expected the Judicial Court of Paris to hand down its verdict in the French proceedings.

IPCom has today announced the signing of a licence agreement with technology company Lenovo, which resolves patent litigation for the Bosch and Hitachi patents. However, the company did not disclose exact details of the settlement and negotiations. As part of the agreement, both companies withdrew lawsuits in the UK, the US and France.

In a press release, IPCom managing director Pio Suh says, “I want to thank the negotiation team of Lenovo for their cooperation in the last months that finally led to the overall resolution of the ongoing dispute.”

Missing Paris judgment

However, the Regional Court of Paris was also supposed to deliver its verdict in the dispute over IPCom’s ‘100A patent,’ EP 1 841 268 (case ID: 20/00940). Now, with the settlement agreed, IPCom and Lenovo have beaten the court to the punch.

IPCom had claimed that Lenovo infringed the patent, also seeking compensation for what it claimed was historic infringement. Patent 100A had already expired in 2020. Motorola, as well as importer Modelabs and distributor Digital River, were co-defendants alongside Lenovo in the case.

The dispute started in 2019 in the US, when Lenovo and other companies filed an anti-suit injunction against IPCom. In France and the UK, IPCom responded with anti-suit injunctions issued by both the UK High Court and at the Paris Regional Court in autumn 2019. Here, the Paris court also declared itself competent for FRAND licenses for the first time. In parallel, IPCom also failed in its attempt to prohibit Lenovo and Motorola from selling mobile devices by means of a preliminary injunction.

Most recently, IPCom’s main lawsuits against Lenovo in the UK were suspended, as was a corresponding nullity action by Lenovo.

IPCom in settlements

The settlement with Lenovo is one in a series of licensing deals for the Munich-based NPE. At the beginning of 2022, IPCom settled the 15-year SEP dispute with HTC. According to a report by IAM, Apple appears to have accepted a licence from IPCom in January 2022. However, the parties never officially confirmed this. Agreements between IPCom and AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint in the US followed over the course of that year.

Currently, IPCom remains in dispute with Xiaomi. Here, the lawsuits are reportedly currently suspended with no quick solution in sight. In the UK, the NPE’s long-standing dispute with Vodafone is also dragging on. Vodafone recently sued for repayment of legal fees after the European Patent Office destroyed an IPCom patent.

Pio Suh

Last month, LG and IPCom also signed a settlement agreement to end a long-running dispute between the parties. According to IPCom, the terms of the agreement saw the parties agree to “resolve all legal cases relating to patent infringement and nullity in Germany.”

IPCom, Samsung and LG had faced each other in court, after IPCom sued the parties for infringing patents from its so-called Hitachi portfolio.

Restructure for the NPE

In 2020, IPCom underwent a major management restructure following the departure of founder Bernhard Frohwitter. While his successor as managing director was Pio Suh, a comprehensive reorganisation of the company’s structure accompanied the change in management.

The NPE also simultaneously changed the focus of its litigation activities. Important disputes in Germany between IPCom and Nokia, as well as Deutsche Telekom, came to an end.

Shifting focus

Following the restructure, IPCom primarily filed lawsuits in other European countries and in the US. In the dispute with Lenovo, IPCom most recently relied on the Paris office of Bardehle Pagenberg around partner Julien Fréneaux for the French proceedings. Bristows partner Myles Jelf led the dispute in London. In the US, law firm Dechert led the proceedings for the Munich-based company.

Lenovo defended itself in France with a team led by Sabine Agé and Amandine Métier of Hoyng ROKH Monegier, while Powell Gilbert was responsible for the case in London, led by partner Ari Laakonen. The two firms have previously worked together on other cross-border cases, such as Philip Morris’ global dispute with BAT over cigarette technology.

However, Lenovo is also relying on another law firm in London. Kirkland & Ellis is responsible for the dispute with InterDigital, in which a decision by the High Court on FRAND was released in the middle of March.

Read this article on Juve-patent | April 2023


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