Nokia, Daimler and the CJEU: referral, appeal, decision?

scanning: author: from: time:2021-04-04 classify:LegalCase
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Landgericht_Duesseldorf_830x415In November, the Regional Court Düsseldorf considered if there were grounds to refer the Nokia vs. Daimler case to the CJEU

This bitterly-fought connected car battle between Nokia and Daimler has seen almost all procedural tricks that one could imagine in patent disputes. This includes anti-anti-suit-injunctions across the Atlantic, involvement of the EU Commission and the German Federal Cartel Office, and a full injunction win for Nokia weakened by a seven billion euro security deposit. Daimler and its suppliers challenged this, with a request to stay the enforcement of the injunction.

But the latest highlight in the Connected Cars saga was the referral of one of Nokia’s claims (4c O 17/19 over SEP EP 20 87 629) by the Düsseldorf Regional Court to the European Court of Justice.

Although Nokia has challenged the decision of the Düsseldorf patent court with an immediate appeal, the case is likely to land on the desks of the CJEU judges in spring 2021.  The decision was apparently very well-coordinated between the two Düsseldorf instances in November 2020.

If the referral comes to pass, the CJEU judges must decide who an SEP holder must offer a licence in a production chain. Until September, Nokia only offered this to Daimler, but not its suppliers. Facing a potential CJEU referral, Nokia changed its strategy and offered the suppliers a licence.

If the referral is effective, the case would not only be the lead case for connected cars patents. It would be the lead case for future connectivity technologies and for SEP and FRAND cases in Europe generally. The war over connected car patents is still in full swing.

The Higher Regional court in Munich has recently stayed the enforcement of one successful claim by Nokia and another by NPE Conversant against Daimler. But if the Düsseldorf Nokia case is refered to the CJEU, the main battle ground is no longer Germany – it’s Luxembourg.