Oppo and its sub-brand, OnePlus, can no longer sell their devices in Germany in the meantime.
The Chinese smartphone maker is temporarily prohibited from selling any of its smartphones and devices in Germany following its loss in a patent lawsuit filed by Finnish telecom giant Nokia, per The Verge.
The lawsuit may be the first patent lawsuit won against a Chinese company since the European Union (EU) filed a lawsuit against China to protect European companies’ telecom tech patents from China’s restrictions.
Details On Nokia Telecom’s Lawsuit Against Oppo
Nokia Telecom’s lawsuit against Oppo stated it found the latter company using its patented technology for processing 4G and 5G signals without paying for a license, according to European patent new site Juve Patent.
As such, Nokia had argued in court that the company’s sales should be prohibited until the issue was corrected.
The German court in Munich handling the case ruled that Oppo had indeed failed to pay for a license to Nokia to use their technology. Georg Werner, the presiding judge of Nokia Telecom’s case against Oppo, found the latter company had infringed two Nokia Telecom standard-essential patents (SEPs). This ruling allows Nokia Telecom to sue Oppo for infringement of two SEPS: EP 35 57 917 and EP 20 80 193.
EP 193 protects an improved pitch lag estimation in audio signals for audio recording, while EP 917 provides flexible resource allocation with UE “keep awake messages” in discontinuous communications.
Werner’s ruling means that Oppo will need to either pay Nokia Telecom for using its patented technology to legally sell phones in Germany or remove the technology from future phones instead of paying, per Android Authority.
However, Oppo was found unwilling to pay for a license and has opted to pull its products from Germany – an act that may have been pre-emptively enforced.
Spenser Blank, OnePlus’ director of communications, and an Oppo spokesperson confirmed that the companies had halted sales of its devices in Germany, adding that they were forced to do what it did due to Nokia Telecom’s “unreasonably high fee” for patents.
Currently, Oppo’s website doesn’t mention any hardware device, including phones and smartwatches. On the other hand, OnePlus’ website is still showing the devices it was selling prior to the court’s ruling. However, clicking the “Buy Now” button doesn’t bring you to the site’s online store.
Oppo and OnePlus are “actively working” with the relevant parties to resolve the legal matter to allow them to sell their devices in Germany.
The Fight To Protect Tech Patents
Nokia Telecom’s victory over Oppo and OnePlus could be the first successful lawsuit a Europan telecom made against a Chinese company since the EU filed a lawsuit against China.
You may remember that the EU filed a lawsuit against China in Mid-February to protect European telecoms’ tech patents from China’s restrictions.
Previously, China was able to get away with copyright infringement in the EU through four “anti-suit injuctions” or heavy fines to benefit from cheaper or even free access to European technology.
Meanwhile, companies that do contest China’s restrictions find themselves under pressure to settle for licensing fees below market rates.
The EU has notified China several times about the problem to find a solution, but no reply was sent back. This led the EU to call China’s actions “inconsistent with the WTO agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.”