Insights | November 6, 2018

UK Court of Appeal Upholds High Court Judgment in Unwired Planet v. Huawei

A few weeks ago, the England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) has handed down its judgment in Unwired Planet v. Huawei. The case in essence concerned setting of a FRAND royalty rate for Unwired Planet’s patent portfolio, when it had been established that Huawei was using some of Unwired Planet’s standard essential patents.

The UK High Court had established that a UK judge was able to set a global FRAND rate and laid down a methodology for setting this rate. Further, the High Court had confirmed that an injunction can be issued in the UK, if the implementer does not agree to accept a global FRAND license. Huawei appealed and objected to the conclusion that only a global license would be FRAND. It also argued that the license was not non-discriminatory, as the license rate was higher than in a license fee offered to another licensee. In addition to this, the appeal concerned the question whether Unwired Planet was in breach of EU competition rules and whether in an injunction was proportionate.

The Court of Appeal upheld the original decision of the UK High Court of April 2017. The Court of Appeal agreed that only a global license would be FRAND in the case at hand. The court also stated that there is not necessarily any discrimination even if a patentee charges different prices from different licensees. A proper balance requires that the patentee is able to ask for commercially reasonable prices that reflect the value of the patent portfolio. The third ground of the appeal – the competition law arguments – were also rejected. The Court of Appeal confirmed that Unwired Planet had a dominant position, but it had not engaged in any abusive behavior and the interpretation of the High Court was in line with the CJEU’s decision Huawei v. ZTE (C-170/13). As a conclusion, an injunction would not be disproportionate if Huawei refused to accept a FRAND license. Hence, the appeal was dismissed.

You can read the whole judgment of the England and Wales Court of Appeal here.