Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Nicolo Zingales, University of Sussex Law School asks The Legal Framework for SEP Disputes in EU Post-Huawei: Whither Harmonization?
ABSTRACT: This article revisits the antitrust treatment of unilateral conduct in Standard Essential Patent (SEP) disputes in EU, with particular focus on the landmark CJEU judgment in Huawei v ZTE and the way it has affected subsequent developments before national courts. It illustrates that while the Court in Huawei significantly improved legal certainty both for SEP holders and their potential licensees, it also left open a number of crucial questions affecting everyday’s licensing practice. First, it is not entirely clear whether the liability of an SEP holder presupposes leveraging by a vertically integrated firm or can also arise in purely vertical or horizontal relationships. Secondly, the safe harbor procedure formulated in the judgment begs important questions concerning burden of proof and portfolio licensing, which have given rise to divergent interpretations. It follows that the space remains wide open for competing national and even regional approaches to the rights and obligations of SEP holders, calling for further European harmonization - be it judicially, legislatively, or administratively through the European Commission. In support for the latter measures, the article illustrates the limited remit of EU private international law rules in preventing the forum shopping which is likely to unfold as a result of a fragmented landscape for the resolution of SEP disputes.