In dispute over licenses for an LTE patent, Ford suffered a bitter defeat in court. Accordingly, a Germany-wide ban on the sale and production of certain models will be imposed on the American carmaker. The ban only applies to certain cars that are equipped with LTE – and for which Ford does not pay any license fees. Ford was sued by a total of eight holders of patents from the mobile sector, which are essential for 4G. This was first reported by the “Wirtschaftswoche”. Accordingly, it is the first verdict against a car company since the patent law reform came into force last summer.
In order for the judgment to be enforced, a security deposit of 227 million euros must be deposited by the Japanese plaintiff IP Bridge. Then it would be enforced in a week or two – unless Ford comes to an agreement with the plaintiffs. Also, the verdict is not yet final, Ford can still appeal. If it is enforced, there is even a risk that all cars will be recalled and destroyed. Last year Ford sold almost 130,000 cars and recorded sales in the millions.
Not only Ford threatens hardship
But Ford isn’t the only company facing trouble. There is a whole range of so-called “connected car processes”. Owners of mobile phone patents are taking action against various car manufacturers in these lawsuits. They want the car manufacturers to pay license fees for using the various cell phone technologies. Because many chips must now be installed in every car due to e-calls, a technology for automatic emergency calls. But car manufacturers are also increasingly using the chips for entertainment and navigation functions.
Daimler threatened to shut down its production in 2020, there were four prohibition decisions. Volkswagen was also sued, but bought the corresponding patents before a court decision. The American manufacturer GM even bought the corresponding patents without any pressure.
Ford announced that the reason for this lawsuit was the licensing of standard-essential patents for LTE networks. “Since we do not yet have the written reasoning for the judgment, we do not want to comment on it at this time,” the company said in a statement.
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