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On 21 March 2024, the Court handed down a judgment in InterDigital v Lenovo [2024] EWHC 596 (Ch), concerning Lenovo's application for declarations that the terms of a draft interim licence would be fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory ("FRAND") pending the final FRAND trial between the parties. The Court also considered (and dismissed) InterDigital's application for a case management stay in favour of patent infringement proceedings in the Regional Court of Munich.

This was the first time a FRAND interim regime had been considered by the Court. Lenovo had initiated a claim in accordance with the guidance of the Patents Court in Kigen [2022] EWHC 2846 (Pat) and Nokia v Oppo [2023] EWHC 1912 (Pat), for the declaration of FRAND terms for a licence between itself and InterDigital. This followed previous proceedings between the parties which resulted in a judgment of Mellor J, finding a FRAND rate of $0.175 for a licence to InterDigital’s portfolio for Lenovo – as previously covered here. Pending the substantive trial, Lenovo proposed that the Court declare that rate to remain FRAND subject to a final determination at trial.

The Court found that there was only modest value of the declarations in the English proceedings since the declarations would not compel InterDigital to enter into a licence, Lenovo is not under threat of injunctions in England and Wales, and InterDigital had not shown any interest in receiving an interim royalty payment (§59). This was contrasted with the more substantial benefit which the Judge found that Lenovo would receive in the proceedings in the Regional Court of Munich, where the declarations could have demonstrated its willingness under the FRAND regime as part of a defence to InterDigital's patent infringement proceedings. (§§59 - 61). The Court dismissed Lenovo's interim licence application.

The Court also dismissed InterDigital's case management stay application, having concluded that there were no proceedings pending in Germany which would result in a court determining FRAND terms (§88). The Court relevantly noted that patentees who seek injunctions overseas as part of a strategy to exact supra-FRAND rates should not expect that behaviour will go unnoticed when the English court exercises case management or other discretions (§75). This echoed the recent judgment of Meade J in Panasonic v Xiaomi [2023] EWHC 2872 (Pat) at §24.

The judgment is available here.

James Segan KC, Ravi Mehta and Femi Adekoya appeared for Lenovo.

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