Mobile communication

Nokia and Bird & Bird defend core patents against Oppo in the Netherlands

Oppo has failed to gain a Dutch verdict against Nokia, which it hoped would influence its German lawsuits regarding two important SEPs. The District Court of The Hague rejected Oppo's invalidity claims and found the company had committed patent infringement. The Regional Court Mannheim had already reached the same conclusion in early summer.

22 September 2022 by Mathieu Klos

Nokia, Oppo, the Netherlands Nokia has prevailed against Oppo in the District Court of The Hague, in just one strand of litigation between the two parties across Europe ©AliciaFdez/ADOBE STOCK

Oppo’s goal was to achieve a quick verdict nullifying Nokia’s two SEPs EP 29 81 103 and EP 32 20 562. The Chinese mobile phone manufacturer was hoping to influence ongoing proceedings concerning the two patents at the Regional Court Mannheim. The District Court of The Hague ruled quickly, but not with Oppo’s desired outcome, rejecting the two nullity suits.

Oppo launched the suits in the Netherlands in 2021. Nokia responded by filing infringement claims for the two patents against Oppo’s German company Orope Germany. The company is responsible for marketing and promoting Oppo products in Europe.

The court upheld both claims in the same decision (case ID: C/09/620740/HA ZA 21-997 and C/09/620741/HA ZA 21-998), with the judges issuing an injunction against Oppo with effect in the Netherlands for infringing the two SEPs. Oppo must also pay damages, provide information and pay court costs.

Nokia protects SEPs

EP 103 and EP 562 are SEPs concerned with random access to an LTE (4G) network or NR (5G) network. The patents belong to the same family as implementation patent EP 17 04 731.

In July, Mannheim Regional Court found that Oppo infringed the two patents in Germany. In 2021, Daimler had attacked the two patents in the connected cars dispute with Nokia and the patents had survived. The EPO Boards of Appeal had rejected Daimler’s opposition to EP 562 in 2021.

In its preliminary opinion in Daimler’s nullity suit, the Federal Patent Court in Germany found EP 103 to be valid. However, there was no final ruling in this case because Nokia and Daimler reached a settlement.

Seven to four

With the two victories in the Netherlands, Nokia continues its winning streak against Oppo. On the other hand, the Finnish company recently suffered four setbacks after Düsseldorf and the Munich Regional Court each suspended two lawsuits until the Federal Patent Court decides on the validity of Nokia’s patents.

Previously, the Mannheim and Munich Regional Courts had imposed five injunctions against Oppo concerning implementation patents and SEPs. After the Regional Court Munich issued two injunctions over SEPs, Oppo stopped the sale of its mobile devices in Germany as a precautionary measure.

Turn to the Netherlands

According to the District Court of The Hague, a similar step is unlikely in the Netherlands, as the rulings do not include the Dutch Oppo companies. However, the German Oppo company is not allowed to produce or sell mobile devices in the Netherlands that infringe the two patents. The company will probably also have to cease its marketing campaigns in the Netherlands, such as the one in March for the Oppo Find X5 Pro. But it is likely the ruling will affect only a few devices destined for the Netherlands.

Nokia has also sued the Dutch companies of Oppo and OnePlus over two other patents. However, verdicts are not expected here for some time. Nokia sued various Oppo companies in Europe and Asia in 2021.

In the meantime, Oppo also filed lawsuits against Nokia over its own patents. However, according to JUVE Patent information, these will not be decided any time soon. The dispute relates to the extension of a licence agreement that expired in 2021.

Brinkhof makes the running

Rien Boekstra

Rien Boekstra

Oppo attacked the two Nokia patents in the Netherlands with litigators from Brinkhof and patent attorneys from De Vries & Metman. Both firms regularly collaborate in mobile phone litigation.

The Amsterdam team of Hogan Lovells, which is also known for mobile phone litigation, was not involved in this case. However, the firm is representing Oppo against Nokia in Germany, France, Spain and the UK.

Both firms have previously worked for Oppo in the Netherlands; Hogan Lovells in a lawsuit brought by Sharp, and Brinkhof in lawsuits brought by Sisvel. The latter dispute ended around the time Oppo decided to launch its revocation claims against Nokia in the Netherlands.

However, JUVE Patent is unaware whether this tipped the scales in favour of Oppo’s retaining of Brinkhof.

Nokia’s old faithful

Nokia is relying on a team from Bird & Bird, which regularly acts for the Finnish company in many countries. This is also the case in the Netherlands where, for example, a team also acts for Nokia alongside co-defendant KPN in an action brought by Assia regarding SEP and implementation patents for DSL technology.

Wouter Pors

Bird & Bird is also acting for Nokia against Oppo in Germany and the UK. In France, however, where the firm also has a renowned patent team, Nokia turned to Allen & Overy in the dispute.

With Hans Hutter from Dutch patent attorney firm NLO for Nokia and Ferry van Looijengoed from De Vries & Metman for Oppo, two of the best-known Dutch patent attorneys for mobile communications are involved in the dispute.

For Nokia
Bird & Bird (Amsterdam/The Hague): Wouter Pors (lead, partner); counsel: Peter van Gemert; associates: Emma Stok, Sabrina Lodder, Kian Hsia
NLO (The Hague): Hans Hutter, Huaizhou Shi (both patent attorneys)

For Oppo
Brinkhof (Amsterdam): Rien Broekstra (lead), Daan de Lange, Mark van Gardingen (all partners); associates: Jonathan Santman, Mzolisi Mtshaulana
De Vries & Metman (Amsterdam): Ferry van Looijengoed, Jurre Laddé (both patent attorneys)

District Court of The Hague, The Hague
Freyke Bus (presiding judge), Edgar Brinkman, Marije Knijff