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Pantech sues OnePlus for ‘holding out’ over SEP licences for mobile tech | Standard essential patents

South Korean manufacturer alleges patent infringement and breach of FRAND obligations | Pantech claims Chinese phone maker had ‘chosen not to take licences’ despite offers.

Pantech has sued rival OnePlus Technology in Texas, alleging that the Shenzhen-based company had infringed its wireless technology and engaged in “holdout behaviour” by refusing to licence patents that had been declared standard essential.

South Korea’s Pantech complaint was filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas yesterday (March 14), and alleges patent infringement, breach of fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) obligations, and unjust enrichment.

The asserted patents are US patent numbers 9,288,824; 11,212,838; 9,763,283;

10,863,573; 9,369,251; 9,769,776; 8,995,372; and 10,764,803, which relate to wireless communication technology including long-term evolution (LTE) and 5G.

Pantech said it held over 200 US patents and applications in the wireless technology space, many of which had been declared standard essential.

These were available to licence on its website under the heading ‘IP Umbrella Services’ the firm told the court.

Pantech said it became the second best-selling Korean handset maker in 2012. According to its website, its smartphone business has since been suspended and it is currently involved with developing technology in the fourth industrial revolution.

‘Continual attempts’ to licence patents

OnePlus had been offered a licence to Pantech’s patents including those which were essential to cellular standards in 2020, according to the complaint, in a letter which identified OnePlus products including the OnePlus 6T, OnePlus 7, OnePlus 8 and others, that were covered by the claims of the patents.

Pantech told the court it had “continuously attempted to licence its patents for more than a year” and yet OnePlus had chosen not to take licences or provide a counter offer.

OnePlus had not taken part in good faith discussions or negotiations but instead engaged in “holdout behaviour”, Pantech alleged.

The suit follows another filed by Pantech in 2022 against OnePlus, also in the Texas court, which alleged infringement of several other patents covering wireless technology.

“Despite the allegations raised in that lawsuit and the contentions made therein, including by expert witnesses testifying to infringement and damages, OnePlus has refused to accept a licence on FRAND terms or even offer a reasonable counteroffer,” Pantech said.

The manufacturer asked the court for damages and costs related to the alleged patent infringement, breach of FRAND obligations and resulting unjust enrichment.

In Pantech and Pantech Wireless v OnePlus Technology, Pantech is represented by Geoffrey Culbertson and Kelly Tidwell of Patton, Tidwell & Culbertson.

Counsel for Pantech also includes James Fussell, Jamie Beaber, Tiffany Miller, Clark Bakewell, Courtney Krawice and Graham Buccigross of Mayer Brown.

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