In the midst of ongoing litigation against Nokia and HTC abroad, German patent monetization firm IPCom’s claim of patent infringement against Apple will be heard before Germany’s Mannheim Regional Court next Tuesday, February 11 (see our Januray 2013 post for some additional information on how patent litigation and RAND issues are handled in Germany). IPCom is seeking upwards of $2 billion in damages.
The litigation involves a standard-essential wireless patent covering a technology that prioritizes emergency calls placed on overloaded wireless communication networks. Interestingly, the claimed technology is not only deemed essential to UMTS and LTE wireless standards, but implementation of the technology is required by law. Despite a joint effort by Apple, Nokia, HTC, and Vodafone to have the patent declared invalid, the European Patent Office issued a decision last month upholding the validity of the patent, albeit narrowed in scope. The $2 billion sought by IPCom allegedly covers only German sales and the company has yet to indicate whether additional suits would be filed in other jurisdictions.
IPCom GmbH is a German patent holding company founded in 2007 by Bernhard Fohwitter, a former patent attorney for Robert Bosch GmbH. IPCom apparently purchased the asserted patent from Bosch in 2007 and is reported to own close to 1,200 patents developed by Bosch and Hitachi Ltd. Over the past several years, IPCom has successfully litigated a number of patent cases before the Mannheim Regional Court, which has heard more wireless patent cases than any jurisdiction worldwide.
IPCom spokesman Alistair Hammond has said that the company has existing licensing agreements in place with a number of unidentified smartphone manufacturers, asserting that last year carrier Deutsche Telekom AG paid IPCom a three-digit million euro sum as part of such an agreement.