Nokia Wins U.K. Ruling Invalidating Two IPCom Patents

Nokia Oyj, the world’s biggest maker of mobile phones, won a U.K. appeals court ruling invalidating two European patents held by the German intellectual property company IPCom GmbH & Co.

IPCom, which acquires patents and licenses them to manufacturers, went against the European “trend” for companies to “put up their cases in time for them to be dealt with fairly,” the Court of Appeal ruled today in London, upholding a January 2010 decision that the patents are invalid.

“What IPCom seeks to do here is quite contrary to that trend, as well as being an abuse of process,” Justice Robin Jacob said in the ruling. “The message is: ‘put up in time, or shut up.’”

The two companies are involved in patent litigation throughout Europe as IPCom seeks royalties from a portfolio of mobile-technology patents it acquired in 2007 from Robert Bosch GmbH, the world’s largest automotive supplier. IPCom acquired the patents after Bosch’s negotiations to license them to Nokia broke down in 2003, according to the judgment.

Alistair Hammond, a spokesman for Pullach, Germany-based IPCom, declined to comment on the ruling.

“This was an important decision against two of IPCom’s alleged strongest patents,” Mark Durrant, a spokesman for Espoo, Finland-based Nokia, said in an e-mail. “IPCom’s assertions of the strength and value of its portfolio are not surviving the test of litigation.”

45 Patents

Nokia rose 2.6 percent, or 20 euro cents, to 7.84 euros at 3:30 p.m. in Helsinki.

Nokia has challenged 45 IPCom patents and all those that came to judgment by a court were found to be either invalid or not infringed, Durrant said. IPCom will be required to pay Nokia’s court costs, he said.

IPCom sought as much as 12 billion euros ($16.2 billion) from Nokia, according to the judgment. The judge rejected a claim by IPCom that Nokia chose the U.K. court system in order to drive up the cost of litigation.

“I have no sympathy for the ‘maximum cost’ complaint,” Jacob said. “IPCom’s investors could only reasonably have expected that mobile-phone companies would not pay large sums without a fight.”

IPCom earlier agreed to orders revoking 13 other patents in four related U.K. lawsuits between the companies, according to the ruling.

Another U.K. case between the companies is pending. It arises from IPCom’s application to split one of its European patents to create a new patent. That case, in which Nokia seeks to revoke IPCom’s so-called divisional patent, is scheduled for trial in April.

Both companies declared victory in a separate German case after a patent court in Munich last month struck down part of an IPCom patent.

The case is: Nokia Oyj v. IPCom Gmbh, A3/2010/0454/0939/2678, High Court of Justice, Court of Appeal (London).

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.