There has long been a tension in technology licensing between the global commercial agreements that companies regularly enter into in order to licence their technologies on a worldwide basis and the requirement that they enforce the intellectual property rights in those technologies (i.e.patents) nationally on a territory-by-territory basis. However, a decision from the UK Supreme Court in 2020 may have taken the first step in changing that status quo.
The judgment in the joined appeals of Unwired Planet v Huawei and Conversant v ZTE, is a decision with potentially far reaching consequences for any company for which global licensing arrangements are an integral part of its business. The Unwired dispute may have taken place in the context of FRAND licensing of patents in the telecommunications industry, but the UK court’s broad exercise of its powers may have a broader impact on the future of multi-jurisdictional licensing disputes.
This article summarises the position following the Unwired decision and considers its potential impact and future developments in this area.
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