NOKIA's Head of Litigation, Clemens Heusch, discusses with Leaders League about the future of the Smartphone patent wars and how one can navigate through the uncertainty of the developments in legislation as in the Unified Patent Court.
Leaders League. What is the strategy for pre-managing disputes at Nokia?
Clemens Heusch. We always try to solve disputes in an amicable way and only litigate if we have to. There are various ways to avoid litigation, like dispute resolutions mechanisms which we have in many agreements. These can include some negotiation phases, followed by certain escalation procedures. If this does not lead to settlement, there are further preferred options like agreeing on an expert to evaluate certain issues, or agreeing on mediation or arbitration.
Leaders League. How do you see the patent wars between smartphone manufacturers going?
C.H. The smartphone wars will go on for a few simple reasons: There are companies which invested tens of billions in research and development and basically invented the entire system, and others make use of that technology. Standardization means that the technology to build a smartphone is easily available, there are low market entrance barriers, and we frequently see new companies joining the market. However, the newcomers have to take licenses from those who did the R&D, Some employ delaying tactics to avoid paying, others are in principle willing, but cannot come to an agreement on the license rate. With more companies entering the market, but also more companies participating in standardization and bringing in their technology, smartphone wars will most likely continue.
Leaders League. How do you navigate uncertainty in today's Europe?
C.H. We permanently monitor developments in legislation / case law and try to be prepared as well as possible. Regarding the Unified Patent Court for example, we have certainly been preparing for both scenarios, that it gets ratified in a few months and starts operating, or we keep the national system as it is. We have to decide which patents we want to opt in or opt out of. These are certainly decisions which cannot wait till the system starts.
Leaders League. What will your work priorities be for 2017?
C.H. Since it seems likely that the UPC will start in 2017 that is certainly one of our priorities. We want to prepare in the best possible way. As said above, litigation is not our preferred way of dispute resolution, but if we have to litigate it would be fascinating to have one of the first cases in this new forum, to be part of building it up.
Leaders League. If there were one thing you'd like to see change at legislative level in Europe, what would it be?
C.H. A more efficient patent enforcement throughout Europe.
Jeanne Yizhen Yin