LONDON • UK judges can set global royalty rates for the use of telecommunications technology, Britain’s highest court said in a pair of cases over how much Huawei Technologies owes a US patent owner.
The United Kingdom Supreme Court yesterday affirmed a decision that Huawei would either have to pay Unwired Planet International a global rate set by judges or face an order limiting its British sales.
In a related decision involving another patent owner, the court rejected Huawei and ZTE Corp’s argument that, if any court were to establish a global rate, it should be in China, where manufacturing and the bulk of sales are located.
Unwired Planet and Conversant Wireless Licensing each have patents related to the 2G, 3G, and 4G telecommunications standards.
Unwired Planet is seeking royalties on Huawei’s phones and infrastructure, while Conversant contends it is entitled to royalties from both Huawei and ZTE.
Huawei and ZTE were challenging rulings that would effectively make British courts a one-stop shop to set global royalty rates.
Since the original ruling, the country’s tribunals have become increasingly popular. The “decision makes the UK one of the leading global jurisdictions for the resolution of such disputes”, EIP, one of the law firms representing the patent holders, said in a statement.
A spokesman for Huawei did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The cases have pitted the owners of patents on standardised technology, including Qualcomm Inc and Ericsson, against those who use the systems in their products, such as Apple Inc. It is a thorny issue that is becoming more important as the world transitions to the next generation of wireless technology known as 5G.