Unwired Planet International Ltd v Huawei Technologies Co Ltd & Anor, Court of Appeal - Patents Court, June 07, 2017, [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat)

Issuing Organization:Patents Court
Actores:Unwired Planet International Ltd v Huawei Technologies Co Ltd & Anor
Resolution Date:June 07, 2017
 
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Case No: HP-2014-000005

Neutral Citation Number: [2017] EWHC 1304 (Pat)

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

CHANCERY DIVISION

PATENTS COURT

Royal Courts of Justice

Rolls Building

Fetter Lane

London EC4A 1NL

Date: 07/06/2017

Before:

THE HON. MR JUSTICE BIRSS

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Between:

Adrian Speck QC, Sarah Ford, Isabel Jamal and Thomas Jones (instructed by EIP and Enyo Law) for the Claimant

Andrew Lykiardopoulos QC and James Segan (instructed by Powell Gilbert) for the First and Second Defendants

Hearing dates: 19th May 2017

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JudgmentMr Justice Birss :

  1. This judgment deals with the remedies to follow from my main judgment dated 5th April 2017 ([2017] EWHC 705 (Pat)). There is no need to rehearse the background. The first issue I have to decide is what sort of relief should be granted in this case. Unwired Planet press for a final injunction to restrain infringement of the two patents found to be valid and infringed, albeit they also accept that the injunction should be stayed on terms pending any appeal by Huawei to the Court of Appeal. Huawei contend that I should accept certain undertakings from Huawei and not grant a final injunction. This first issue is the major question I have to decide. The other issues are: second what to do about damages, third a point on certain declaratory relief, fourth costs, and fifth permission to appeal.

    The first issue - injunction or undertakings

  2. The main judgment decided that a particular form of licence represents the FRAND terms between the two relevant parties, Unwired Planet and Huawei, in the relevant circumstances. That licence will be referred to as the Settled Licence. It is annexed to this judgment. The form of the Settled Licence was finalised a few weeks after the main judgment. There is no dispute that the Settled Licence in that form reflects the decisions made in the main judgment.

  3. The Settled Licence is a global licence. Throughout the proceedings Huawei had maintained that they were not prepared to enter into a global licence with Unwired Planet. Huawei had made it clear that they did not accept that a global licence was FRAND as a matter of competition law. This was reflected in the main judgment, for example paragraphs 524-572. I held that such a licence was FRAND and that since Unwired Planet had established infringement by Huawei of valid patents and since Huawei have not been prepared to take the FRAND licence, a final injunction should be granted (paragraphs 793-795 and the summary paragraph 806(18)).

  4. I had made it as clear as I could to the parties during trial that the trial itself was the hearing at which the question of whether or not to grant an injunction was to be decided. However because Huawei had refused to engage with the terms of a worldwide licence, the fully worked out Settled Licence did not exist at the date the judgment was handed down. Reluctantly I decided that the injunction could not be dealt with at the handing down but would be dealt with at a later hearing (see main judgment paragraph 794). Although Huawei were to that extent benefitting from their earlier non-engagement, nevertheless that seemed to me to be the proper course.

  5. A preliminary question is whether there is anything to decide at all. Huawei submit that I have not actually made the decision whether to grant a final injunction or not. However in case they are wrong Huawei have also issued an application to reconsider the grant or refusal of a final injunction under the jurisdiction confirmed by the Supreme Court in Re L-B [2013] 1 WLR 634. Unwired Planet pointed out that in the main judgment I said an injunction ``should be granted'' (see summary paragraph 807(18)) but Unwired Planet did not press a formal point that the issue could not be considered on its merits at this hearing.

  6. Since no injunction was granted when the main judgment was handed down and since I stated in terms that I would deal with an injunction at a later hearing, I have not yet exercised the court's power one way or another on this issue. It is open to me to decide the matter and there is no need to consider exercising the Re L-B jurisdiction.

  7. Unwired Planet contend that a final injunction should be granted. They agree that it should be stayed on terms pending appeal, but that is all.

  8. Huawei submit that the present circumstances are now materially different from the circumstances during trial and at the time the judgment was handed down. Now Huawei offer two undertakings to the court. They are set out in the witness statement of Huawei's UK solicitor Simon Ayrton of Powell Gilbert. He explains that pending appeal Huawei are prepared to provide the following undertakings to the Court:

    ``First, that within seven days of the expiry of the time to appeal against the Final Order or, if there is an appeal against the Final Order, its withdrawal or final determination, Huawei will enter into the form of licence settled by Mr Justice Birss (i.e. the Licence) or such other licence as may be finally settled by the courts.

    Second, that until the expiry of the time to appeal against the Final Order or, if there is an appeal against the Final Order, pending its withdrawal or final determination, Huawei will abide by the terms of the Licence as if the same were in full force and effect.''

  9. The ``Final Order'' is the order whose terms I am deciding now. The ``Licence'' is what I have called the Settled Licence.

  10. Huawei submit that I should accept this undertaking and refuse to grant a final injunction. They submit that Unwired Planet are protected pending appeal because Huawei will pay royalties in the meantime (subject to a point about a letter of credit to deal with what happens if Huawei win their appeal). They also submit that the effect of this undertaking is that one way or another there will be a licence in place with Huawei as a party. Mr Ayrton says that these undertakings mean that Huawei are willing to enter into whatever licence the UK courts settle and in the meantime will abide by the Settled Licence as if it is in force. If no other licence is finally settled by the courts then Huawei will enter into the Settled Licence. So the final injunction will serve no useful purpose for the duration of the Settled Licence or such other licence as is finally settled by the courts. Mr Ayrton then points out that the Settled Licence will expire in 2020 (and a 2020 expiry was an agreed term of the UK licence at trial). Since patent EP (UK) 2 229 744 which was considered in trial A and found valid and infringed does not expire until 2028, the injunction will still be in being in 2020 when the Settled Licence expires. Having the injunction in place at that time would unfairly distort the positions of the parties in any renegotiation which would need to take place.

  11. Unwired Planet take a number of points in response to these submissions. Their first major argument is that Huawei's submissions mix together the question of what the final relief should be absent any appeal, with the question of what the terms should be pending appeal. They contend that, subject to an issue about letters of credit, there is no dispute about the appropriate terms pending any appeal. Huawei in effect should behave as if the Settled Licence is in force and pay royalties in the meantime, subject to repayment by Unwired Planet. But the fact that the final injunction should be stayed pending appeal does not mean it should not be granted. They argue that today the position remains that Huawei refuse to enter into the licence found to be FRAND by the court and so an injunction ought to be granted. They argue that what Huawei are trying to do is decline to enter into the licence settled by the court at least while the appeal is pending but still avoid an injunction. They say this builds an interim measure into what should be final relief.

  12. Unwired Planet's second point is to dispute Huawei's assertion that the effect of the undertakings is that it is inevitable that Huawei will enter into a licence with Unwired Planet at the conclusion of the appeal process. Unwired Planet do not agree that the undertakings offered make it watertight, in every conceivable scenario on appeal, that a licence will be in force between Unwired Planet and Huawei at the end. That depends on examining the points on which Huawei wish to appeal, which I will return to below.

  13. Like many aspects of this case, this dispute about relief raises some new problems. One suggestion was that the real problem was that the Settled Licence had no terms dealing with appeals. Huawei submitted that if it did then they might be able to enter into it now but still argue on appeal that a UK licence was the right outcome. I agree that it might be possible to craft terms in a licence which could allow for something like that and perhaps the next time a court is called upon to settle FRAND terms, that could be considered. But neither side suggested such terms at trial and I made it clear the time to do that was then, not now (e.g. paragraph 581). Moreover I am not convinced it is as simple as Huawei suggest.

  14. Another point is the issue of what happens in 2020. This arises from the fact that the eight year term of the Settled Licence runs from 2013 until 2020. That term arose because the parties at trial were agreed that the UK licence should work that way. When I came to consider the worldwide licence I started from the UK terms, finding (paragraph 593) that the points the parties were able to agree upon as FRAND in the UK licence were just as applicable to a worldwide licence. That included recognising that it would be an eight year licence running from expiry of the 2009 Ericsson-Huawei licence until the end of 2020.

  15. When, during the trial, I saw the agreed expiry date of 31st December 2020 in the UK licence my first reaction was one of surprise. It was only three years away and at least some of the patents will last much longer than that. But on reflection I could...

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