IP Recap #33

July 20, 2017


Nokia and Xiaomi’s Cross Licence

Is Nokia climbing back?

Nokia deal may get them back in the game

The Story
Xiaomi has continued their growth into the global IP market. Following last year’s haul from Microsoft, they recently struck a deal with Nokia. The deal reportedly allows Xiaomi to acquire some of Nokia’s patents, gives licenses to Standard Essential Patents and has a collaboration agreement included. This could prove to be significant in many ways, with IAM pointing out that it shows Xiaomi is still in growth mode and that Nokia could get success out of Xiaomi’s growth given they are now a customer of Nokia’s networking business. Indeed, comments from Xiaomi’s VP for IP strategy suggest that Nokia was strongly focused on non-IP elements, showing that the collaboration could be a significant aspect of this deal.

Why it Matters
The once dominant mobile phone manufacturer could have played a genius move, and partnering with an up and coming Chinese company in expansion mode could see them take a step toward competing with the biggest tech firms once again.

The Costs of PTAB

Are the balloons substantially filled?

water balloon filling patent

The Story
Fundamentally, patents were devised to enable inventors to ensure they profit from their own inventions. However, PTAB can cause the protection to come at great cost. An example reported recently in IPWatchdog is that of the inventor of Bunch o’ Balloons. This is a product that enables multiple water balloons to be filled at once from a tap and proved to be popular enough that big brands wanted to get a slice of the water balloon filling market, launching their own copycat products. When accused of patent infringement, they simply took the case to PTAB that they didn’t think the patent was valid. A follow-up report says that to date, the PTAB procedure has cost some $17M, and while there has been some success in the form of preliminary injunctions for some of the products, the drawn out patent battle has focussed on the elements of the patent surrounding whether the balloons are “substantially filled with water,” while Walmart has sold their Einstein Balloons unopposed.

Why it Matters
This case shows the difficulties that small players can have in fighting the giants that have chosen “efficient infringement” as their favored tactic in bypassing FTO issues. While back damages are available, there’s every chance a small inventor could fail to stump up the legal cost in the interim and have to abandon the case, and certainly serves as a strong negative example of the PTAB procedure.

Unitary Patent Faces Legal Challenge

UK waiting on Germany with anticipation

Germany holding up UPC ratification

The Story
The Unitary Patent system is expected to be something of a game changer for IP outside the US, and could see the market at least dilute the strong US-focus it has at present. However, it requires ratification by member states, and Germany has recently faced a new challenge in obtaining this ratification in the form of a legal challenge. The challenge centers on whether the legislation is unconstitutional, with rumors circulating that the challenge surrounds the powers this gives the EPO president to influence judicial appointments. This could prove to be a significant challenge as Germany is one of the countries required to be among the 13 ratified states for the UPC get the green light.

Why it Matters
Britain is hoping the UPC can become active before the UK officially leaves the EU. TUKhat way, the system is up and running with the UK as a key part of it and therefore the UK is more likely to remain part of the system post-Brexit. However, if the time between now and Brexit doesn’t see full ratification of the system, then there is likely to be some issues which could compromise UK IP for good.

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