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Standard essential patent – valid and infringed

3 December 2014

The English High Court tackled the thorny issue of the alleged infringement of a ‘standard-essential’ patent, and has found for the patentee.

Vringo Infrastructure Inc owns a patent (originally obtained by Nokia) relating to the process of soft handover of a mobile phone call between base stations when the phone moves between cells. The patent was declared as being essential to a number of 3G telecommunication standards.

The defendant – ZTE (UK) Limited – is a global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions. Vringo claimed that some of ZTE’s products infringed.

In a crisp and clear judgment, Birss J (no stranger to disputes of this nature) found that the patent was valid over prior art which included earlier standard related documentation, and infringed. Vringo successfully side-stepped allegations of being a patent troll – a question which the judge found to be prejudicial and irrelevant (where no competition law defence relating to Vringo’s acts was relied on).

So, a victory for Vringo, this decision will give continued encouragement to those holding essential patents to try their luck in the English courts.

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Mark Daniels

Mark Daniels

Partner and Head of Business Services

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