The telecom sector has been a pivotal force behind India’s digital transformation. Surge in data consumption and rapid adoption of new technologies continue to redefine connectivity and engagement dynamics in India. As the largest data consumer and the second largest smartphone market, India is carving out a new digital identity globally. At the same time such a digital transformation has been brought by innovative companies who wish to be compensated for their efforts, often via licensing. The first part of this paper will explain the impact of standardization on the Indian market. The second part will focus on the key role of an effective patent enforcement system in balancing standardisation contributors and implementers’ interests. On this regard, the paper analyses the changing patent landscape in India. It follows a brief review of the Indian jurisprudence relating to patents essential to a technical standard. Third, the paper will identify some of the main strengths and obstacles of the patent litigation system in this particular field, including some concrete proposals or suggestions for improvement in the latter. Finally, the paper will sketch some general conclusions.
Begoña Glez Otero,
Intellectual Property and Standardisation: Key Aspects for an Innovative India, Science, Technology & Public Policy.
Vol. 3, No. 2,
2019, pp. 14-22.
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"Calling party pays" or CPP is a payment model in cellular markets, that states that the total cost of a call is borne by the caller and not the receiver.
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IBEF, “Telecoms Industry in India”, March 2019, available at: https://www.ibef.org/industry/telecommunications.aspx; last accessed May 23, 2019. Moreover, since 2014, the department of Commerce has been engaged in organizing various meetings concerning the achievement of an optimal regulatory ecosystem for standardisation, with the goal of positioning standards as a key driver of all economic activities in the sector; enhance competitiveness of Indian goods and services in domestic and international markets; or providing a level playing field to domestic industry. See: Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Department of Commerce, Indian National Strategy for Standardisation (INSS), 2018, available at: https://commerce.gov.in/writereaddata/uploadedfile/MOC_636655449469105249_INSS_Booklet_2018.pdf; last accessed May 23, 2019.
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See: ITU, “Impact of Broadband on the economy” (2012) Broadband Series, available at: https://www.itu.int/ITU-D/treg/broadband/ITU-BB-Reports_Impact-of-Broadband-on-the-Economy.pdf; last accessed May 23, 2019; EY, CII, “#Broadband 2022 – Unlocking a trillion dollar digital economy” (2018) available at: https://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/ey-broadband-2022-unlocking-a-trillion-dollar-digital-economy/$FILE/ey-broadband-2022-unlocking-a-trillion-dollar-digital-economy.pdf; last accessed May 23, 2019.
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TSDSI is public-private partnership entity run by participation of all the stakeholders together, the government, service providers, manufacturers, researchers and vendors. See https://tsdsi.in/about/; last accessed May 23, 2019.
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For instance, Boston Consulting Group estimates that to achieve 5G standard mobile players will need to invest approximately $4 trillion in R&D and capital expenditures by 2020. See: “The Mobile Revolution 2015”, available at: https://www.bcg.com/publications/2015/telecommunications-technology-industries-the-mobile-revolution.aspx; last accessed May 23, 2019.
RAND is also used as synonymous of FRAND in the US.
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See among others: D. L. Burk, M. A. Lemley, “Policy Levers in Patent Law” (2003) 89 VA. L. REV., 1575; R. Falvey, N. Foster, “The Role of Intellectual Property Rights in Technology Transfer and Economic Growth: Theory and Evidence” (2006) United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Vienna, at available at: https://www.unido.org/sites/default/files/2009-04/Role_of_intellectual_property_rights_in_technology_transfer_and_economic_growth_0.pdf; last accessed May 23, 2019.
See among others, J. C. Fromer “Patent Disclosure” (2009) 94 Iowa LR at 539, available at: https://www.fh-muenster.de/bibliothek/downloads/Fromer_PatentDiscloser.pdf; last accessed May 23, 2019.
On free riding and its impact see the decision Continental T. V., Inc. v. GTE Sylvania, Inc., 433 U.S. 36, 55 (1977); A. Künzler, “Restoring Consumer Sovereignty: How Markets Manipulate Us and what the Law can Do About It” (2017) OUP, at 45.
ECSIP Consortium, “Patents and standards: A modern framework for IPR-based standardisation” (2014) Study prepared for the European Commission Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry.
See OECD document “Licensing of IP Rights and competition law – Note by India” (DAF/COMP/WD (2019) 4) submitted on June 6, 2019. Available at https://one.oecd.org/document/DAF/COMP/WD(2019)4/en/pdf; last accessed May 23, 2019.
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World Bank Group Flagship Report “Doing Business 2019. Training for Reform” (2019) available at: https://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/doingBusiness/media/Annual-Reports/English/DB2019-report_web-version.pdf; last accessed May 23, 2019.
In the last 10 years some SDOs have emerged in India in various sectors. There are five key SDOs, namely the Telecom Standard Development Society of India (TSDSI), Telecommunication Engineering Centre (TEC), Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the Global ICT Standardisation for Telecommunications in India (DOSTI).
Koniklijke Philips N. V. vs Bhagirathi Electronics & others CS (OS) 1082/2009); Koninklijke Philips N. V. vs Rajesh Bansal (Mangalam Technology) (CS (COMM) 24/2016) Delhi High Court.
Six cases took place over the period of 2013 to 2016: Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (Publ) vs. Mercury Electronics and Anr. (2013) Delhi High Court, CS (OS) 442/2013; Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (PUBL) vs. GIONEE COMMUNICATION EQUIPMENT CO. LTD. and ANR (2013), CS (OS) No. 2010/2013; Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson vs. Intex Technologies (India), Indiankanoon.org (2014) Delhi High Court, CS (OS) 1045/2014; Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (Publ) vs. Xiaomi Technology and Ors (2014) Delhi High Court, CS (OS) 3775/2014; Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (PUBL) vs. Lava International Ltd. (2015) Delhi High Court, CS (OS) 764/2015; Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (PUBL) vs. M/S BEST IT WORLD (INDIA) PRIVATE LIMITED (iBall) (2015), CS (OS) 2501/2015; Lava International Limited vs Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (PUB) (2016), CM (APPL.) 23769/2016.
Vringo Infrastructure Inc and Anr. vs. Xu Dejun and Ors. (2013) Delhi High Court, CS (OS) 2168/2013.
Vringo Infrastructure Inc and Anr. vs. Xu Dejun and Ors, FAO (OS) 573/2013, CAV. 1141/2013, C. M. APPL. 19754/2013 and 19755/2013, December 12, 2013, para (ii): “It is agreed that besides framing issues, learned Single Judge would, in exercise of powers conferred under Section 115 of the Patents Act, appoint a scientific advisor to apprise the Court about the technical and scientific evidence brought on the record. The appointment of the scientific advisor shall be from amongst the list of experts.”
See above: Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson vs. Intex Technologies (India), Indiankanoon.org (2014) Delhi High Court, CS (OS) 1045/2014. The Court has used this tool during the appeal proceedings. Also, more recently in the Micromax vs, Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (2019) pronounced on April 23, Delhi High Court.
J. G. Sidak, “FRAND in India: The Delhi High Court’s emerging jurisprudence on royalties for standard-essential patents” (2015) JIPLP, vol. 10, no. 8 at 601.
Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (Publ) v. Competition Commission of India, Case W. P. (C) 464/2014 & CM Nos. 911/2014 & 915/2014 and W. P. (C) 1006/2014 & CM Nos. 2037/2014 & 2040/2014 (Mar. 30, 2016).
Micromax, Intex and IBall complaint against Ericsson with the CCI, alleging, among other, that the licensing rates were exorbitant, and thus an abuse of Ericsson’s dominant position. See: Micromax Informatics Ltd. v. Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, Case No. 50/2013, Competition Commission of India (12 November 2013), available at http://infojustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/CCI-Case-no-50-2013.pdf (last accessed may 23, 2019); Intex Techs. (India) Ltd. v. Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, Case No. 76 of 2013,} 6, Competition Commission of India (16 January 2014); Best IT World (India) Private Ltd. v. Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, Case No. 4 of 2015, Competition Commission of India (12 May 2015), available at http://www.cci.gov.in/sites/default/files/042015_0.pdf (last accessed may 23, 2019).
Government of India, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry “Discussion Paper on Standard Essential Patents and Their Availability of FRAND Terms”, March 1, 2016, available at: http://www.ipindia.nic.in/writereaddata/Portal/News/196_1_standardEssentialPaper_01March2016_1_.pdf; last accessed May 23, 2019.
eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L. L. C., 547 U.S. 388 (2006). For a comment on the case see: K. Gupta, J. P. Kesan, “Studying the impact of eBay on injunctive relief in patent cases” (2016) University of Illinois College of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-03; available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2816701; last accessed May 23, 2019.
See Speech by AAG Makran Delrahim at the 19th Annual Berkeley-Standford Advanced Patent Law Institute, December 7, 2018; available at: https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/assistant-attorney-general-makan-delrahim-delivers-remarks-19th-annual-berkeley-stanford; last accessed May 23, 2019.
Judgment of 16 July 2015, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd v ZTE Corp. and ZTE Deutschland GmbH, C-170/13, ECLI: EU: C: 2015: 477.
For a detailed analysis of the case and the guidelines see: C. Tapia, S. Makris, “Negotiating Licenses for FRAND-accessible Standard Essential Patents in Europe after Huawei v. ZTE: Guidance from National Courts”, Managing IP, May 4, 2018. A very up-to-date database including summaries rendered after the Huawei v. ZTE case in key European countries, together with a national courts guidance on licensing negotiation for SEPs can be found at: https://caselaw.4ipcouncil.com/; last accessed May 23, 2019.
Section 108 (1): The reliefs which a court may grant in any suit for infringement include an injunction (subject to such terms, if any, as the court thinks fit) and, at the option of the plaintiff, either damages or an account of profits.
See for European law, among others L. Tochtermann, “Injunctions in European Patent Law”, 4IPCouncil Research Paper, 2019, available at: https://www.4ipcouncil.com/application/files/3115/5784/6445/L._Tochtermann_Injunctions_in_European_Patent_Law.pdf; last accessed May 23, 2019; For the US: J. Contreras, “Injunctive Relief in U.S. Patent Cases”, in R. Sikorski (ed.) Injunctions in Patent Law, 2016.
Remfry & Sagar, “Injunctive relief in SEP litigation: what makes sense in India?” (2017), Lexology, October 12.
In particular, the injunctions sought against Micromax, Intex, Xiaomi and Lava.
In the context of patent licensing, to hold-up refers to a situation where a patent holder seeks increased licensing fees because the patent is essential to a standard. For further information on hold-up see, among others: A. Galetovic, S. Haber, R. Levine, “An Empirical Examination of Patent Holdup” (2015) Journal of Competition Law and Economics, OUP, vol. 11 (3), 549-578.
In the context of patent licensing, to reverse hold-up or hold-out refers to a situation where a patent holder instead of being over-compensated, is in fact under-compensated by being forced to accept royalties that are lower than the value of the contribution of their technologies to a standard. For a detailed study of this and other situations arising in standard patent licensing see: V. Angwenyi, “Hold-up, Hold-out and F/RAND: The quest for balance” (2017) JIPLP vol. 12, issue 12, 1012-1023.
There could be several factors behind the transfer of judges reflected in the “Memorandum Showing The Procedure For Appointment And Transfer Of Chief Justices And Judges Of High Courts”, mainly to avoid any kind of potential unfair treatment. For instance, a transfer to another High Court occurs when a judge is appointed as Chief Justice. Also, when a lawyer from the bar is appointed as judge or when a judge is promoted to a High Court. In the event of a complain of corruption which does not lead automatically to impeachment, the judge accused is also transferred to another High Court.
See for instance: https://thediplomat.com/2016/04/30-million-pending-cases-fixing-indias-overburdened-judiciary/; and: https://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/3-3-crore-cases-pending-indian-courts-pendency-figure-highest-cji-dipak-misra/story/279664.html (last accessed May 23, 2019).
For a brief overview of case management conference see “Case Management Conference Law and Legal Definition”, available at: https://definitions.uslegal.com/c/case-management-conference/ (last accessed May 23, 2019). Also: https://sasklawcourts.ca/images/documents/Provincial_Court/Small_Claims/SC_Case_Management_Conference_Info.pdf (last accessed May 23, 2019).
See iRunway, “Patent & Landscape Analysis of 4G-LTE technology” (2012) at 9, available at: https://www.i-runway.com/images/pdf/iRunway%20-%20Patent%20&%20Landscape%20Analysis%20of%204G-LTE.pdf; last accessed May 23, 2019. The top 5 are Samsung, Qualcomm, Panasonic Corporation and Inter Digital.
Estimating the future 5G patent landscape, October 2018, available at: https://www.ericsson.com/en/patents/estimating-the-future-5g-patentlandscape; last accessed May 23, 2019.