For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

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Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Longer life for cellphone battery power -- but not for patents

Ever wished your mobile phone didn't cut out in the middle of crucial conversations? Well, Qualcomm is either your knight in shining armour or a villian, depending on your perspective. Sadly, the brief note from LexisNexis Butterworths on yesterday's decision doesn't go into all the details of Qualcomm's attempt to enforce its battery patents -- but the IPKat expects that the judgment in Qualcomm Incorporated v Nokia Corporation [2008] EWHC 329 (Pat) (Patents Court, England and Wales, before Mr Justice Floyd) was a long and technical one and he accepts that the function of an alerting system is to alert. The IPKat suspects that the full transcript will be available on BAILII soon, and hopes that any delay is only for the sake of doing the proof-reading.

The case goes like this. Ever since mobile phones were invented, battery power has been a problem: mobiles consume power even when not in active use because, while in idle mode, they remain switched on and tuned to the appropriate paging channel in order to learn whether their base station has sent them a message. In effect this means that most battery power is simply wasted.

Qualcomm owned two patents. Its 324 patent related to an apparatus for controlling the way in which the mobile phone reduced power consumption by monitoring a channel for incoming messages intermittently, while its 482 patent was for a method and device for the correction and limitation of the transmitted power of a mobile phone. Qualcomm sued major mobile phone maker Nokia for contributory infringement of its 324 patent and for primary infringement of its 482 patent by selling its handsets.

Nokia denied infringement of both patents and counterclaimed for revocation, alleging the usual grounds of invalidity (lack of novelty; obviousness; lack of inventive step; insufficiency and added matter).

Left: from mobile battery to immobile cattery -- the IPKat also consumes energy when idle ...

Mr Justice Floyd found that, on the proper construction of the first claim 1, the 324 patent was invalid on the grounds of lack of novelty and obviousness. The 482 patent fared little better, in that claims 1, 2, 9 and 11 were invalid for lack of inventive step and claims 9 and 11 were also invalid for insufficiency.

There's more information on this dispute, which echoes an International Trade Commission dispute between the same parties, on Electronista, the San Jose Mercury News and the Register.

1 comment:

Professor Ruth Soetendorp said...

The MIP report this week picked up on the European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI) dimension to this decision, which involved discussion of whether the patents were 'essential'

ETSI rules include that patents which are essential to a technical standard should be licensed on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.
If users of the technology do not take a licence, they are technically infringing.

In Nokia v Interdigital, decided December 2007, Lord Pumfrey ruled on non-essentiality. This week in Qualcomm Incorporated v Nokia on 03.03.08 [2008] EWHC 329 (Pat) the contested patents were found invalid, one for lack of novely and obviousness and one for lack of inventive step. The judge concluded, that had it been valid he would not have held it to be essential to the standard.

Managing Intellectual Property quoted an IP lawyer involved in the case 'The UK is becoming the go-to place for cases relating to essentiality because they are willing to entertain these kind of cases'.

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