Speech coding technology

VoiceAge wins first lawsuit against HMD with Wildanger and Bosch Jehle

Today, Mannheim Regional Court ruled that mobile phone manufacturer HMD infringed a VoiceAge EVS patent for speech coding technology. The court could order a sales stop for HMD's mobile devices in Germany. The decision is the first in a campaign that saw VoiceAge file 27 lawsuits against five mobile phone manufacturers.

23 July 2021 by Mathieu Klos

VoiceAge, HMD The Mannheim Regional Court has today ruled that HMS infringed a patent owned by VoiceAge for speech coding technology ©wellphoto/ADOBE STOCK

Finnish mobile phone manufacturer HMD might no longer be able sell mobile devices in Germany that infringe VoiceAge EVS patent EP 27 07 687, following a Regional Court Mannheim decision (case ID: 7 O 116/19). The court today declared that HMD infringes EP 687. It is currently unclear whether VoiceAge will enforce a sales stop, which would lead to a ban on the sale of the devices. HMD can still appeal the verdict.

EP 687 protects a speech coding technology for mobile devices. VoiceAge EVS had sued for injunctive relief and also demanded damages, information and rendering of accounts.

The ruling is the first in a series of lawsuits filed by the SEP holder against five mobile phone manufacturers. VoiceAge EVS filed five lawsuits against HMD in Mannheim and Munich in 2019. It also took action against Lenovo/Motorola, Apple, Xiaomi and TCL/TCT over the same patents. In today’s decision, the court found that HMD has infringed the patent and held that the defendant’s FRAND defence was unsuccessful.

The next judgments in the dispute are planned to be handed down on 20 August 2021 in Mannheim Regional Court, and 9 September in Munich.

No proceedings for TCL and Lenovo

In the meantime, a total of 27 lawsuits were pending against five mobile phone manufacturers in Mannheim and Munich. Nullity suits against the five SEPs owned by VoiceAge EVS are also pending.

However, proceedings against TCL and Lenovo are now no longer pending. This indicates that the companies have reached a settlement with VoiceAge EVS.

It is expected that two further proceedings against HMD will soon be decided. At the end of June and again at the beginning of July respectively, the Munich Regional Court and the Mannhein Regional Court each heard a lawsuit brought by VoiceAge EVS.

Observers also consider it very likely that VoiceAge EVS will take action against other mobile communications companies, especially from China.

Teamwork among firms

VoiceAge, HMD

Peter-Michael Weisse

According to JUVE Patent information, Noerr and Vossius & Partner represented TCL/TCT. Xiaomi also relies on Noerr’s patent team around Ralph Nack. Apple retained regular law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

HMD and Lenovo/Motorola both instructed Hoyng ROKH Monegier and Samson & Partner. The law firms have a close working relationship. A Hoyng ROKH Monegier team led by Klaus Haft is handling both cases, but Lenovo chose a separate team led by Tobias Hessel for the FRAND proceedings.

Hoyng ROKH Monegier’s German practice had long represented SEP holders such as Nokia, but has recently switched to the side of implementers, for example representing Apple and Intel in other proceedings.

Wildanger and Bosch Jehle, on the other hand, have worked together intensively for many years for SEP holders such as VoiceAge EVS. Previously, both law firms led a successful joint campaign for NPE Saint Lawrence.

VoiceAge, HMD

Klaus Haft

Bosch Jehle recently underwent a fundamental change. The firm’s founder, Matthias Bosch, left the partnership the year before last and has not practiced law since last autumn.

He was primarily responsible for the firm’s good relations with SEP owners. Partners Thomas Hell and Rudolf Reichold recently assumed the work in the campaign.

For VoiceAge
Wildanger Kehrwald Graf v. Schwerin & Partner (Düsseldorf): Peter-Michael Weisse, Jasper Meyer zu Riemsloh, Eva Geschke, Soenke Fock, Alexander Reetz, Ole Dirks; associates: Alexander Wiese, Eva Maria Thörner, Stefan Berkemeier
Bosch Jehle (Munich): Thomas Hell, Rudolf Reichold (both patent attorneys)

Hoyng ROKH Monegier (Düsseldorf): Klaus Haft, associates: Lars Baum, Franca Poll-Wolbeck, Thorsten Gspandl
Samson & Partner (Munich): Georg Jacoby, Wolfgang Lippich (both patent attorneys)

Regional Court Mannheim, 7th Civil Chamber
Peter Tochtermann (presiding judge)