Regional Court Of Munich Rejects Four Qualcomm Claims Against Apple In Relation To Patent Claims

Author:Ms Katharina Bongs
Profession:Van Bael & Bellis

On 31 January 2019, the Regional Court of Munich (the "Court") rejected four out of the eight claims that Qualcomm Inc. ("Qualcomm") had brought against Apple Inc., Apple Distribution International UCL and Apple Retail Germany B.V. & Co.KG (together "Apple") finding that Apple's embodiments did not infringe Qualcomm's patents.

Qualcomm had brought several claims (namely a claim for injunctive relief, a claim for information, an accounting claim, a claim for call back and a claim for damages) arguing that the search functionalities on Apple's mobile phones (spotlight search and Siri & search) infringed its European patents.

The Court rejected the claims as unfounded and held that the challenged embodiments did not infringe Qualcomm's patents.

When assessing the admissibility of the claim, the Court also dealt with the question of whether bringing the action amounted to an abuse of a dominant position pursuant to Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The Court rejected such a notion. It held that, generally, IP rights imply the right to exclude others. Enforcing such a right by a claim for injunctive relief cannot, therefore, be considered to be an abuse. The patent holder generally has the exclusive right to exercise its patent. According to the Court, the situation could have been different if the patent were standard essential ("SEP") and, based on this, the patent holder were dominant, or if the patent holder exercised its rights resulting from an SEP or a non-avoidable patent in such ways and circumstances that pursue an aim contrary to the objectives of competition law. The Court further referred to the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union ("ECJ") in IMS Health in order to argue that such exceptions have to be interpreted restrictively. A licence would have to be granted if the following (cumulative) conditions were satisfied: (i) a...

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