LUXEMBOURG, July 16 (Reuters) - Europe’s top court said on Thursday that companies with key technology patents must offer to conclude licensing deals with rivals before taking any legal action or they could be accused of abusing their dominance.
“The bringing of an action for a prohibitory injunction against an alleged infringer by the proprietor of a standard-essential patent which holds a dominant position may constitute an abuse of that dominant position in certain circumstances,” judges said.
The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) said patent holders should make a specific offer to conclude a license with third parties on fair and reasonable terms before asking for an injunction against rivals.
The ruling came after Huawei sued ZTE in a German court for infringing its patents as both companies failed to agree on the right level of royalties to be paid for a 4G mobile network patent and also on ZTE’s request for a cross-licensing deal.
The German court subsequently sought the ECJ’s advice, asking whether Huawei’s failure ot conclude a deal amounted to an abuse of its dominant position. (Reporting by Pia Oppel, writing by Foo Yun Chee)