High Court grants stay in Vodafone case, pending German outcome

Patent dispute between telco and two firms relates to digital subscriber line technology

A Dusseldorf court is expected to give its decision on the separate German case in September. Photograph: Reuters

A Dusseldorf court is expected to give its decision on the separate German case in September. Photograph: Reuters

 

The High Court has granted a stay on a legal action by Vodafone over a patent dispute pending the outcome of separate proceedings in Germany.

Vodafone claims a Dublin-registered company is behind attempts to deny it fair use of internationally accepted terms for patents covering digital subscriber line (DSL) technology, a type of high-speed broadband used across the telephone cabling network.

Vodafone GmbH, the German member of the international Vodafone group, has brought proceedings against Dublin-based IV International Licensing (IVIL) and a Delaware, US-based firm called Intellectual Ventures II (IVII).

It claims these two companies are acting together in relation to licensing rights for patents on the broadband technology which are harmful to Vodafone GmbH and are also abusing their dominant position in relation to those rights.

IVIL and IVII dispute the claims. They say they are involved in creating and filing patent applications covering their own inventions as well as buying the patent rights of inventors who frequently find it difficult to reap a financial reward from their inventions.

IVII has brought patent infringement proceedings in Germany against Vodafone and other telecommunications companies.

A Dusseldorf court is expected to give its decision on those in September.

IVIL and IVII separately asked the Irish High Court to decline jurisdiction to hear the Vodafone GmbH case in favour of the courts in Germany.

Jurisdiction

This application was on the basis of the Irish superior court rules and in accordance with EU regulations governing jurisdiction and recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (the Recast Brussels Regulation).

The two companies also asked Mr Justice Max Barrett to set aside his decision last June to permit Vodafone to serve proceedings in its Irish case on IVII outside the jurisdiction — the US — or otherwise stay the action pending the outcome of the German cases.

The judge had ruled the State was the appropriate jurisdiction for Vodafone to take its case following an ex-parte (one side only represented) application by Vodafone.

On Friday, Mr Justice Barrett refused to set aside that June 2016 order or to decline jurisdiction in the Vodafone proceedings in favour of the German courts.

He agreed to stay the Irish proceedings given a final judgment of the Dusseldorf court is expected in September.

At that point, much of what was raised in the case brought here by IVIL and IVII will “have been realised and/or become clearer”, he said.