UK Supreme Court affirms courts’ rights on IP licensing issue

The ruling on the long-running litigation involving Huawei bolsters the UK’s position as a forum for international IP dispute resolution

UK Supreme Court affirms courts’ rights on IP licensing issue

The UK Supreme Court has affirmed courts’ rights on an IP licensing issue involving Chinese telecoms company Huawei, reported the Law Society Gazette.

In 2013, Huawei had opposed UK courts on their right to set “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” (FRAND) terms for multinational standard-essential patent (SEP) holders as per global agreement. The telecoms giant called for country-by-country licensing in a major challenge that saw involvement from Apple, Ericsson and Qualcomm.

On Wednesday, five Supreme Court justices, including Supreme Court president Lord Robert Reed, unanimously ruled that courts in England and Wales had jurisdiction to grant injunctions against infringement and to set global licenses on FRAND terms. The decision upheld previous rulings by Sir Colin Birss in the Patents Court and by the Court of Appeal.

It is considered a landmark judgment that is expected to bolster the UK’s position as a forum for international IP dispute resolution.

Simon Ayrton, partner at IP firm Powell Gilbert LLP, said that by supporting the decision of the Patents Court and the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court had “firmly established the UK’s place as an attractive forum for patentees with global SEP portfolios, in particular those who are seeking to establish their licensing programmes, who will welcome confirmation that the UK courts are ready and willing to set the terms of a FRAND licence and award an injunction if that licence is not taken.”

Powell Gilbert represented Huawei, while IP firm EIP Legal acted for Unwired Planet and Conversant Wireless Licensing, Huawei’s opponents in the legal battle.

“When we started on this journey little did we think that we would end up in the highest court in the land with the eyes of the global IP and telecoms worlds upon us,” EIP Legal head Gary Moss said.

He praised the firm and its clients for holding firm to their case throughout the long-running litigation.

“We and our clients have faced significant pressures along the way, including opponents with significant resources who have thrown everything at us in an attempt to deflect our clients from securing the relief to which they were entitled. But we and our clients have held firm; along the way we have gone through 12 major trials and appeals and innumerable interim court hearings,” he said.” We always believed in our clients’ case and seven years later we are delighted to have our belief endorsed by the Supreme Court.”

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