The English High Court upheld the validity of a standard-essential patent (SEP) owned by Philips in the technology company’s ongoing dispute with Taiwanese firms HTC and AsusTek,
Mr Justice Arnold delivered his third decision in the SEP patent fight after making his first ruling in May and his second on July 10.
The dispute stems from Philips’ allegations that mobile devices produced by HTC and AsusTek infringe three European (UK) patents that it had declared essential to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s (ETSI) Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), a 3G standard.
Philips’ patents (numbers 1,440,525; 1,685,659; and 1,623,511) cover sections of the 3G standard directed to the operation of the High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) system.
Both Taiwanese companies produce and sell HSPA-compatible mobile devices. As Philips’ patents are essential to the HSPA standard, it argued that HTC and AsusTek are infringing the three patents through these devices.
At the first trial in May, Arnold upheld the validity of the ‘525 patent, called “Radio communications system”, and confirmed that the patent had been infringed by the Taiwanese companies.
However, at the second trial last week, Arnold determined that the ‘659 patent—called “A radio communications system, method of operating a communications system, and a mobile station”—is invalid due to obviousness.
In the latest development, Arnold confirmed that the ‘511 patent, called “Communication system”, is valid and has been infringed by HTC and AsusTek.
The ‘511 patent covers a method of operating a communication system subject to variations in channel quality, whereby transmit power control is used to reduce the variations in quality.
HTC and AsusTek argued that the patent is obvious as a skilled person would have implemented aspects of cdma2000 (a family of 3G mobile technology standards) to develop the UMTS, which became the European standard for 3G.
Philips argued that, in the UK, “the skilled person would not have been capable of implementing the power control aspects of cdma2000 using his common general knowledge”.
Upholding the validity of Philips’ ‘511 patent, Arnold said “there are several flaws” in HTC’s and AsusTek’s argument.
Arnold said there is “no doubt” that skilled people in the UK were working on UMTS, and “there was no prospect of cdma2000 being deployed in the UK”. As argued by Philips, Arnold agreed that the skilled person “would be focussed on UMTS” instead.
Last week, Arnold said “further technical issues” have emerged in the case, so a fourth trial may be necessary to address the validity of the final disputed patent and “issues relating to Philips’ undertaking to ETSI to grant licences on FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) terms”.