The structure of the Finnish Nokia is seeking through the courts a ban on the sale in Russia of one of the models of the Oppo smartphone brand for patent infringements. The co-defendant in the claim is DNS, one of the largest retailers of technology and electronics in terms of revenue. According to experts, such claims are rare for the Russian market, and the requirement to ban the sale of one model may be just the beginning of a more global investigation.
Kommersant discovered in a file of arbitration cases that Nokia Technologies Oy, a structure of the Finnish Nokia Corporation, filed a lawsuit against DS Communication LLC and CSN Retail LLC with a demand to ban the sale of Oppo Reno 5 smartphones in Russia. The Moscow Arbitration Court accepted the claim for proceedings on July 9, the first meeting on it is scheduled for December 6.
303 billion rubles
made up the smartphone market in Russia in the first half of the year, according to MTS
As follows from the materials of the court, the claim concerns the use in the model of inventions under two patents. According to the available abstracts of inventions, the first patent concerns a technology that allows the provision of a communication service without interruption, for example, at the moment when a subscriber’s device is connected from one base station to another. The second patent concerns quick access to device functions through a touch gesture. The patents are owned by Nokia and have been in force since 2004 and 2012, respectively. Nokia did not respond to the request. Oppo’s Russia spokesman and DNS group president Dmitry Alekseev did not comment.
According to Spark-Interfax, DS Communications LLC in Russia has written certificates of conformity for dozens of Oppo devices. This brand, along with Realme and Vivo, belongs to the Chinese holding BBK Electronics. In units, according to the results of the first quarter, three brands, according to M.Video-Eldorado, accounted for 6.3% of smartphone sales in Russia.
Nokia has already filed several lawsuits against Oppo in European and Asian countries. This was announced on July 8 by the author of the blog FOSS Patents Florian Müller. In 2018 Nokia and Oppo entered into a patent licensing agreement, but it expired. As a result of new negotiations, Oppo refused to renew it, says Florian Mueller, citing Nokia’s position.
Nokia has an impressive patent portfolio on which the company makes money, explains Mobile Research Group analyst Eldar Murtazin. “Patent litigations with mobile device manufacturers take place all over the world, but such cases are quite rare for Russia,” he notes. Nokia’s chances of success in court, in his opinion, are great, and if the claims are satisfied, the defendants may be ordered to pay a fine for each device sold. The analyst believes that claims under one particular model may be a touchstone for a more global investigation.
If this is an international conflict, Nokia will fundamentally designate it in the Russian Federation, explains Anatoly Semyonov, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Intellectual Property of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. “Perhaps the defendant will try to prove that patents are unprotective if they protect something known and ubiquitous. On the other hand, if this is a global campaign for the plaintiff, then he is sure that the patents will survive, ”Anatoly Semyonov does not rule out. According to Russian law, the maximum compensation for patent infringements is 5 million rubles, but the patent holder’s losses are much more difficult to prove, he notes.
Lawyers admit that the proceedings between Nokia and Oppo will end in an amicable settlement. “From the point of view of Nokia’s business, it is more profitable to renew the license, to force Oppo to do it. I think that the model, which is the subject of the lawsuit, is popular enough for Oppo to think about an amicable settlement, ”said Konstantin Suvorov, partner of the law firm Kosenkov and Suvorov.
The risks of the retailer in the dispute are expressed in economic losses if he imported goods to Russia, but cannot sell them, says Kirill Nikitin, head of the directorate of the law firm Vegas Lex. The retailer finds itself hostage to a dispute between the two manufacturers, adds Konstantin Suvorov. In his opinion, DNS is better off to stop selling and return the goods to the supplier, so as not to take on the risks of damages or compensation in the future.