Chinese IP Law Updates
March 30, 2017

Sony Ruled by IP Court in Beijing for Invention Patent Infringement and Judged with Huge Compensation

Recently, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court (BIPC) has made a judgment in first instance on the invention patent infringement dispute between a Chinese wireless network communications company and Sony Mobile Communications (China).

The court ruled that Sony China had infringed a communication related invention patent, held by the Chinese wireless network company, having procuded and sold dozens of phone models, and ruled that Sony shall immediately cease the infringement and pay the compensation.

The focal question is whether the production of Sony China does constitute infringement. Since the patent involved is deemed a Standard Essential Patent (SEP), and has de facto become a part of GB standards, it was clear that the Patent was already recognized. Thus controversies swirl around whether it could be inferred that Sony China had complied with GB standards and used the patent involved, thus leading to infringement.

BIPC presumed that Sony China had grounds for implementing GB standards based on its failure to submit relevant evidence including its internal regulations on quality management during the hearing, and extended the test results concerning the patent of the four involved mobile devices to dozens based on the absence of counter-evidence from Sony. As a result, the court is of the opinion that dozens of Sony phones involved are in infringement due to their compliance with GB standards and use of the patent involved. In addition, compensation concerning the infringement also caught professionals’ attention for the complexity in determining the case’s nature.

BIPC supported the plaintiff in not only its claim for “compensation of three times the amount of the licensing fee”, recognizing an amount as high as nearly RMB 10 million (approxi. USD$1.5 million), but also a reasonable expense amounting to nearly RMB 500,000 (approxi. USD$70,000) for securing its rights. With respect to patent infringement disputes, judgment involving such a high compensation was almost never been seen before.

It is also reported that the involved patent holder had brought Apple China to court in 2016 with claims similar to the preceding case whose result is expected to swing to one side favor before the pending ruling.

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