The UK High Court was recently required to decide whether SEP infringement proceedings seeking FRAND relief brought by Nokia against OPPO in the UK should be stayed in favour of FRAND proceedings brought by OPPO against Nokia in China.
In his judgment handed down yesterday, his Honour Judge Hacon declined such a stay both on grounds of forum conveniens and case management.
It might be said that this case has set a high threshold for granting a stay in relation to UK SEP proceedings and it remains to be seen whether a different set of circumstances may be sufficiently rare and compelling to favour a stay.
The judge followed the reasoning of the Court of Appeal in Conversant and found that the UK claim was properly characterised as a claim for infringement of UK patents and for relief in terms of a global FRAND licence. Characterised this way, the English court is the appropriate forum.
The judge found that none of the factors raised by the parties in relation to a case management stay tipped the balance of justice in favour of a stay or no stay. Nevertheless, the judge declined a stay on the basis that the circumstances of this case were not sufficiently rare and compelling to favour a stay.
In my judgment none of the factors raised by the parties tips the balance of justice as between the parties in favour of a stay or no stay. That being so, I do not take the view that the circumstances of the present case are of the rare and compelling nature contemplated by the Court of Appeal in Reichhold Norway such that the balance of justice favours a stay of the FRAND issues before this court. No stay will be granted.