SEP’s FRAND, and Unwired Planet – The UK Courts Rule Supreme

By Richard Kempner, Partner

Read our extended article on this here.

In a widely anticipated judgement, in Unwired Planet v Huawei, the U.K.’s Supreme Court has today rejected appeals by Huawei and ZTE, and affirmed the English first instance and Court of Appeal decisions that UK courts have jurisdiction to settle global FRAND disputes, settle global royalty rates and grant UK injunctions to facilitate the process.

Standard Essential Patents (SEP’s), necessary to access telecommunications standards, are required to be licensed on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (‘FRAND’) terms. The appeal has finally put to bed the issue of whether or not UK courts can play a lead role in resolving disputes between those implementers who wish to access the standards, and the patent rights holders: the Supreme Court has unanimously held that they can.  The role includes settling royalty rates (and terms) for use of the SEPs, which can be globally applicable rates, not just applicable to the UK patent but to all the relevant global patents, and that UK injunctions can be granted against an implementer who fails to take a global FRAND licence.

Why does this matter?  Global licensing for SEP’s has become the norm and this decision will bolster the UK as the favoured jurisdiction of choice, for issues between parties to FRAND negotiations to be resolved efficiently and cost effectively without the need for litigation in each separate jurisdiction, globally.

We will be producing a more detailed article shortly. Watch this space.

If you have any queries about this decision and its impact on your activities, please contact Richard Kempner.