Economy & Politics

Patent dispute over Stuttgart car manufacturer goes to the ECJ

Daimler is in a legal dispute with Nokia. Photo: dpa / Sebastian Gollnow

The telecommunications group Nokia accuses the Stuttgart car maker Daimler of patent infringements in various courts. Central questions are now to be clarified in Luxembourg before the European Court of Justice.

Düsseldorf / Stuttgart – In the mobile communications patent dispute between the network equipment supplier Nokia and the car manufacturer Daimler, central questions are now to be clarified by the European Court of Justice. The Düsseldorf Regional Court will submit a case to the Luxembourg judges, as announced on Thursday (Az. 4c O 17/19). Nokia accuses Daimler of patent infringements in connection with mobile radio technology in cars and sued for injunctive relief in each case. The network equipment supplier was successful in one case before the Mannheim Regional Court in August, but not in other cases.

At its core, the dispute revolves around how so-called standard-essential patents, the use of which is absolutely necessary for the use of the technology, are made available to all providers at fair conditions and without discrimination. According to the court, Nokia is of the opinion that it is free to decide at which level licenses are granted to whom, i.e. whether directly to the car manufacturers or to their individual suppliers. Daimler, on the other hand, is of the opinion that the suppliers should be able to license their products themselves directly.

Daimler welcomes the decision

Like the Mannheim Regional Court before, the Düsseldorf judges also assume that Daimler infringes a Nokia patent in this specific case. At the same time, however, they raise the question of whether the network equipment provider is abusing its “undisputed dominant position on the licensing market” when it asserts its claims. An appeal to the Higher Regional Court is still possible against the decision.

Daimler welcomed the decision. This means that the questions about the licensing of patents can now be answered fundamentally and across Europe, said a spokesman, pointing out that the Federal Cartel Office had also suggested such a procedure.

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