Video coding technology

Nokia and Lenovo go head-to-head in Germany

It is now publically known that Nokia and Lenovo will battle it out in Düsseldorf and Munich. Nokia has filed patent suits against Lenovo in Germany. Nokia had already filed another lawsuit in a US court at the end of September. All suits affect patents for video coding.

16 October 2019 by Mathieu Klos

Nokia and Lenovo, patent litigaiton, video coding, Germany Nokia and Lenovo will battle it out in the German patent courts in a dispute over video coding technology. ©AS Photo Project/ADOBE STOCK

According to Bloomberg, in September Nokia filed a lawsuit against Chinese computer and mobile phone manufacturer Lenovo with the Eastern District of North Carolina (case ID: 5:19-cv-00427-BO).

Here, it claimed that dozens of Lenovo laptops and tablets infringe over 20 Nokia patents. All patents are essential to complying with the International Telecommunication Union’s H.264 Advanced Video Coding standard, also known as MPEG-4 part 10. Nokia also filed simultaneous lawsuits against Lenovo in Germany.

However, it is not yet clear on which patents Nokia’s suits are based. Nokia and Lenovo have both refused to comment.

Nokia and Lenovo across Germany

Following requests by JUVE Patent, the Regional Courts in Düsseldorf and Munich have now confirmed the lawsuits, which were recently served to Lenovo’s German subsidiary. Nokia filed two claims in Munich (21 O 13026/19 and 21 O 13026/19) and one in Düsseldorf (case ID: 4c O 53/19).

When Nokia begins a series of litigation in Germany, however, the Finnish company’s previous modus operandi has been to file suits in Mannheim as well as Düsseldorf and Munich. In its connected cars suit against Daimler, for example, Nokia is battling the car maker at all three courts. It is therefore likely that Nokia is also suing Lenovo in Mannheim. However, the court has yet to confirm this.

According to JUVE Patent’s information, however, the lawsuits were preceded by intense negotiations over a global licence for the Nokia patent portfolio. The negotiations are ongoing.

In vogue

Patent lawsuits by European and US SEP holders against Chinese mobile phone manufacturers are currently fashionable. For example, InterDigital recently sued Lenovo in London. At an SEP conference in Brussels in early September, many SEP representatives complained about the unwillingness of Chinese mobile phone companies to take licences for their SEPs.

Christian Harmsen, Bird & Bird, Düsseldorf, patent litigation, Nokia and Lenovo

Christian Harmsen

But it was not until the turn of this year that the MPEG-LA patent pool took bitter action against Huawei and ZTE at Düsseldorf Regional Court. The result was two Chinese companies finally accepting the MPEG-LA standard licence.

Bird & Bird takes a turn

The German lawsuits were prepared by a Bird & Bird team, headed by Düsseldorf partner Christian Harmsen. The firm is one of Nokia’s regular advisors throughout Europe.

In Germany, Hoyng ROKH Monegier and Arnold Ruess also work for Nokia. Arnold Ruess is responsible for Nokia’s lawsuits against Daimler and its suppliers of connectivity modules, such as Continental. The lawsuits are related to negotiations between patent pool Avanci, and Daimler. Nokia is a member of Avanci.

Lawyers unknown

Patent attorney firm Cohausz & Florack advises Nokia on a regular basis. For example, Cohausz partner Christoph Walke also acts for Nokia in the disputes against Daimler. However, it is not the only patent attorney firm working for the Finnish company in Germany.

Lenovo has not yet appointed any trial representatives in Germany. In any case, the company has not faced many suits before German patent courts. Last year Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer had represented Lenovo in a case brought by patent fund operator, IP Bridge before the Mannheim patent courts.

In London, Lenovo is currently defending an SEP lawsuit brought by InterDigital and IPCom. Lawyers from Powell Gilbert represent Lenovo in both UK proceedings.

For Nokia
Bird & Bird (Düsseldorf): Christian Harmsen (lead)
Cohausz & Florack (Düsseldorf): Christoph Walke (patent attorney)
In-house: Clemens-August Heusch (Munich)

Regional Court Munich, 21st Civil Chamber
Tobias Pichlmaier (presiding judge)

Regional Court Düsseldorf, 4c Civil Chamber
Sabine Klepsch (presiding judge)