Readers of this blog will understand that many of the key automotive OEMs have been refusing for quite some time to take what, by any measure, is a very reasonable license to most of the key wireless SEPs. Instead, these OEMs have been busy trying all the usual implementer games (with a new one – licensee cartels – thrown in for good measure). As Florian Mueller observed, it would seem that the auto sector is heading for an IP reckoning. Rightly so.
There must be some very real and intense frustration in the SEP holder community to account for the lawsuit filed yesterday by Acer. According to a search ran today on Docket Navigator, Acer only ever filed suit 3 times previously in the US as a patent owner. For Acer then to sue Volkswagen, with a large and sophisticated legal operation, in the rocket docket of the Eastern District of Virginia speaks volumes.
One imagines Acer is tired of waiting. And is tired of Volkswagen refusing the to take a license from Acer’s licensing agent, Avanci. As Florian Mueller pointed out in his post today, the issue is that Volkswagen only wanted to license 2G and 3G and not 4G. Interestingly, after reciting Avanci’s licensing efforts since 2016 the complaint notes in paragraph 28 Volkswagen’s latest holdout efforts – and cites both Florian Mueller and your humble author:
Over the past two years since signing the 2G/3G license agreement, and although Volkswagen AG has increasingly incorporated 4G connectivity into its connected vehicle line-up, it still has not concluded a 2G/3G/4G license with Avanci. Instead of signing a license on the same terms as others in the industry, Volkswagen AG has engaged in delay tactics, including efforts to create a “licensee negotiation group” including many companies in the auto industry to jointly negotiate more favorable licensing terms for Volkswagen AG and other participants in the group. See http://www.fosspatents.com/2021/07/sep-licensing-negotiation-groups-part-i.html; http://www.fosspatents.com/2021/07/sep-licensing-negotiation-groups-part.html; https://kidonip.com/standard-essential-patents/car-or-car-tels/.
It is always quite satisfying as an author to learn when your work makes a difference. One can only hope that this in fact leads to some sense on the part of automotive. With the various SEP owners now pushing the issue the automotive industry should wake up to the great deal that Avanci offers – before they drown in litigation costs and potential injunctions.