UK Supreme Court: Unwired Planet v Huawei and Huawei / ZTE v Conversant
The future of global licensing for digital standards?
The Supreme Court gave its unanimous decision on 26 August 2020 in these long-awaited cases which upholds both the first instance High Court judgments of Mr Justice Birss in Unwired Planet v Huawei and of (the late) Mr Justice Henry Carr in Huawei / ZTE v Conversant; and the Court of Appeal decisions in both cases.
The decision has confirmed that the UK courts do have jurisdiction to enforce the ETSI IPR Policy and to determine the terms of a FRAND licence on a global basis: an outcome which will have a major impact on the multi-billion-dollar global licensing and litigation strategies adopted by both Standard Essential Patent (SEP) holders and implementers alike. It is the first clear statement by any senior national court that its national courts can and will determine FRAND terms on a global basis.
The case is significant in that its conclusions will be relevant not only to the many thousands of SEPs which are used in mobile devices, but also to growing numbers of connected and/or interoperable devices in the fast evolving “Internet of Things” (IoT) economy. The decision will also provide a frame of reference to a broad range of other industry-wide standard setting initiatives in which FRAND obligations are relevant, for example the development of blockchain solutions, the connected car industry and the development of digital health solutions.