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InterDigital lays down the law after court win vs Oppo

Even in victory, patent-licensing firm InterDigital is keen to state its case against Oppo and two of its subsidiaries.

Nick Wood

January 9, 2024

2 Min Read

Germany's regional court in Munich recently ruled in favour of InterDigital in its ongoing patent spat with the Chinese device makers, issuing injunctions against Oppo, OnePlus and Realme.

The court declared that they have infringed InterDigital's patents and – unlike InterDigital – have acted as unwilling patent licensees that have not abided by FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) principles.

In a statement, InterDigital's chief legal officer Josh Schmidt unsurprisingly welcomed the decision, and urged Oppo to "meaningfully engage" in negotiating a new patent-licensing agreement.

InterDigital sued Oppo, OnePlus and Realme in Germany, the UK and India in late 2021. It wants damages and injunctive relief on grounds that the three have for years been infringing its standards-essential patents (SEPs) relating to 3G, 4G, and 5G tech, and the HEVC video codec.

"Our negotiations with Oppo have taken nearly a decade and Oppo has not made a single payment for its unauthorised use of our patented innovation," said Eeva Hakoranta, InterDigital's chief licensing officer, in a separate blog post.

She described the Munich court's decision as a clear-cut verdict against Oppo that "highlights a pattern of blatant holdout behaviour," where delay tactics are used in lieu of genuine willingness to take a licence.

"We initiated this dispute against Oppo to protect the virtuous cycle of innovation and to preserve the delicate balance on which it rests by ensuring that companies like Oppo pay a fair royalty for their use of patented technology. As the negotiation history shows, we did not rush to the courtroom to secure litigation-driven leverage," Hakoranta said. "On the contrary, we actively engaged Oppo in genuine negotiations and adhered to commonly accepted principles of FRAND licensing."

However, the court's decision is unlikely to bring Oppo to the negotiating table.

When Germany ruled in favour of Nokia in its own, separate patent suit against Oppo, rather than license the protected technology, Oppo, OnePlus and Realme simply opted to pull out of Germany instead.

As a result, the Munich court issuing an injunction in favour of InterDigital is not going to affect a defendant that has already left the country.

Oppo and its subsidiaries still sell devices in the UK and India though, so rulings in these jurisdictions will be the ones to watch out for.

Oppo certainly isn't letting patent infringement suits get in the way of launching new products either.

This week it took the wraps off its latest flagship, the Find X7 Ultra. Describing it as the ultimate camera phone, it incorporates two periscope lenses. These make clever use of mirrors to enable powerful optical zoom capabilities in a compact form factor. It is powered by Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip.

It also won't go on sale outside China, according to various reports which means either Oppo can't make the numbers add up, or it's wary about potentially being sued off the shelves in other markets.

About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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