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Nokia to appeal Chinese court's 'global' 5G ruling

Chinese court ignored previous rulings against Oppo and has no grounds to set worldwide patent fees, argues Nokia as it plans to appeal ruling in Oppo patent dispute.

Robert Clark

December 18, 2023

2 Min Read
Nokia logo on a beige building.
(Source: Nokia)

A Chinese court has ruled in favor of Oppo in its 5G patent dispute with Nokia - but the decision appears to have opened yet another fissure between the Chinese and non-Chinese tech worlds.

Nokia has said it will appeal the decision, which it claims is based almost entirely on Oppo submissions, does not address Nokia's concerns and ignores multiple rulings against Oppo by non-Chinese courts.

Nokia also rejects the court assertion that the decision applies to 5G patents worldwide, arguing that it applies to the Chinese market only. In the November 28 ruling, published last week, the Chongqing First Intermediate Court set global licensing fees for 5G patents of between 4.341% and 5.273%.

As reported by Chinese financial news site Caixin Global: "Chongqing First Intermediate People's Court accepted Oppo's calculations to set the aggregated royalty rates charged for using Nokia's 5G standard essential patents (SEPs) in the mobile phone industry."

In an emailed statement, Nokia said the judgment showed that Oppo "has an obligation to pay Nokia and that Oppo needs to make payments for the whole unlicensed period."

Oppo in breach of commitments 

Nokia said the court decision's impact "is limited to the Chinese jurisdiction only and as such represents only one view. Courts outside of China have confirmed that Oppo is in breach of its commitments as a user of Nokia's technology in open standards."

Related:Partner Report - 5G in South-Eastern Asia - Essential insights into the future of 5G across the region.

A legal source said the Chongqing court showed clear bias in setting lower licensing fees in emerging markets – where Chinese smartphone brands sell the bulk of their product – and higher fees in developed countries where they have a much smaller footprint.

Additionally, Nokia can argue that courts outside China have reviewed its licensing fees and found they were reasonable. 

Nokia first filed suit against Oppo in 2021 after the two firms had been unable to agree on 5G licensing terms. The companies have since sued and counter-sued in multiple jurisdictions.

Oppo – owned by Chinese electronics firm BBK – exited the German market last year after a court found it had used four essential Nokia patents without paying for them. Vivo, another BBK brand engaged in a patent dispute with Nokia, departed Germany in June this year. 

Earlier this year, Nokia won a decisive ruling in a UK court, while an Indian court ordered Oppo to pay a security deposit of 23% of its local revenue as the case proceeded.

Oppo said it welcomed the Chinese court's decision and was willing to comply with the ruling. The company did not respond to Light Reading's queries. 

UPDATE: the story has been updated to reflect a UK ruling this year and specify the details of a court order in India.

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About the Author(s)

Robert Clark

Contributing Editor, Special to Light Reading

Robert Clark is an independent technology editor and researcher based in Hong Kong. In addition to contributing to Light Reading, he also has his own blog,  Electric Speech (http://www.electricspeech.com). 

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