Chip set

ParkerVision setback in Apple patent dispute

Last week, the Regional Court Munich ruled that Apple's iPhone 7 does not infringe a ParkerVision patent. The ruling is another setback for the US non-practicing entity's German operations.

30 April 2019 by Mathieu Klos

Apple, ParkerVision, chips, high frequency, low frequency The patent protects a technology which converts high-frequency signals entering mobiles into a lower frequency. artegorov3@gmail/ADOBE STOCK

The Regional Court Munich ruled that European patent EP 11 35 853 was not infringed and dismissed ParkerVision’s claim (case ID: 7 O 2141/17). The patent protects a technology which converts signals that enter mobile phones at a high frequency into a lower frequency.

With the lawsuit primarily directed against Intel-manufactured chips used in the iPhone 7, Apple brought Intel into the dispute as co-litigant. The disputed patent originates from a US patent application filed as a PCT application in Europe. Several divisional applications were derived from this basic patent.

However, according to the Munich judges, this does not protect any new prior art. It is not known whether ParkerVision will appeal. And, given that the patent soon expires, this could be a superfluous step.

ParkerVision originally filed for an injunction against Apple, so this would only entitle the NPE to claim for past damages.

The NPE has recently suffered economic setbacks. Turnover declined in 2018, with the company subsequently announcing it would undergo restructuring. ParkerVision had pinned its hopes on a positive judgment from Munich.

Out of luck?

In addition, ParkerVision is conducting important proceedings against Qualcomm and HTC in the US District Court in Orlando, and against Qualcomm and Apple in the District Court in Jacksonville.

There are also further cases in Germany. Two years ago, ParkerVision filed a series of lawsuits against Apple and Korean mobile phone manufacturer LG.

Klaus Haft, patent litigation, Hoyng ROKG Monegier

Klaus Haft

Apple also fended off a lawsuit over the European patent EP 12 06 831. This protects a technology for converting from low to high frequencies. ParkerVision attacked Qualcomm chips built into the iPhone 6.

At the end of 2018 the German Federal Patent Court declared the patent null and void, a decision which ParkerVision has appealed to the German Federal Court of Justice. However, a hearing is not yet scheduled.

In the meantime, infringement proceedings were settled because the NPE did not deposit the necessary security bond.

LG in firing line

ParkerVision also sued Korean electronics group LG over European patent EP 12 06 831 at the Regional Court Munich. This also affects mobile phones that use Qualcomm chips. Proceedings were suspended two years ago because of doubts over the patent’s validity.

Ralph Nack, Noerr, patent litigation, Munich

Ralph Nack

For this case, LG retains Steffen Steininger, Munich partner at Hogan Lovells. Steininger regularly represents LG in German patent litigation.

The patent team around Ralph Nack at Noerr, alongside Bosch Jehle’s patent attorneys, launched litigation on behalf of ParkerVision. The two firms cooperate closely, especially for NPE lawsuits.

But ParkerVision changed counsel as the proceedings progressed and now retains patent attorneys from Peterreins Schley. According to sources, Bosch Jehle and ParkerVision had different views on how proceedings should be conducted.

Core for Apple

On the opposing side, Apple retains Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Hoyng ROKH Monegier and Samson & Partner. The patent attorneys at Freshfields and Samson are long among Apple’s core advisors. Samson patent attorneys are also conducting nullity proceedings against EP 11 35 853.

Klaus Haft of Hoyng ROKH Monegier last worked for Apple when Intel chips were affected. He has also a long-standing relationship with the US chip manufacturer.

While the Hoyng team took over the technical defense, the Freshfields team was responsible for the procedural aspects. Most recently, the three firms were jointly present in the high-profile battle against Qualcomm.

In the other proceedings against ParkerVision, Qualcomm is represented as co-litigant of Apple and LG by a team around Johannes Heselberger from Bardehle Pagenberg. This team also handles the nullity suit against EP 12 06 831.

For ParkerVision
Noerr (Munich): Ralph Nack (lead), Thomas Gniadek; associates: Armin Kühne, Valentin Schmidt
Peterreins Schley (Munich): Jan-Malte Schley, Felix Glöckler
In-house (Jacksonville): Greg Rawlins

For Apple and Intel
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
(Düsseldorf): Wolrad Prinz zu Waldeck und Pyrmont, associate: Sonja Mroß
Hoyng ROKH Monegier
(Munich, Düsseldorf): Klaus Haft, Tobias Hessel; associate: Beatrix Metelski
Samson & Partner (Munich): Wolfgang Lippich, Tobias Stammberger, Ludwig Alexander von Poswik, Robert Baier (all patent attorneys)

Regional Court Munich, 7th Civil Chamber
Matthias Zigann (presiding judge), Georg Werner, Anna-Lena Klein