In the latest chapter of the patent war, a court prohibits Ford from selling its LTE-enabled cars in Germany
New patent litigation could jeopardize Ford's continued presence in Germany. As reported by Reuters, the Munich Regional Court has banned the sale and production of Ford vehicles throughout the country, specifically those with 4G connectivity.
The plaintiff, IP Bridge, a Japanese company dedicated to the management of intellectual property, which has already sued Volkswagen on another occasion, wants Ford to pay for the use of 4G chips in its models.
The ruling can be appealed. However, without an agreement it will be executed.
In total, the blue oval is being sued by eight holders of 4G mobile communications patents, and the Japanese company IP Bridge is in charge of representing them.
"The reason for this court case is the licensing of essential standard patents for LTE networks," Ford said in a statement, declining to comment on details.
The court's ruling is not legally binding and can still be appealed; the next step is for IP Bridge to deposit €227 million to make the ruling provisionally enforceable.
According to the media, the judge's ruling even requires that all vehicles equipped with this mobile phone technology be "withdrawn from dealerships and destroyed".
Mobile phone patent holders are increasingly pressuring car manufacturers to pay licensing fees for the use of the technology in their connected cars.
The price that is sometimes not paid for the connected car: Germany and patents
By law, the chips must be installed in all cars because of calls. However, they are also increasingly taking over entertainment and navigation features entertainment and navigation features that manufacturers sometimes do not pay for.
In August 2021, Germany reformed the patent law to make it more explicit - but not, as many had hoped, to make it any less severe - and to codify certain aspects of case law of the Federal Court of Justice.
This means that, as in the case of Ford, an infringement of a patent still automatically leads to an injunction, so in theory in a scenario in which all new cars are connected there could be a total halt in production and sales. In general terms the German courts will remain injunction-friendly.
Two years ago, Nokia took Daimler to court for using its 4G technology without paying, asking that its engineers' work be rewarded through the acquisition of "fair" use licenses for each car sold.
According to the German weekly DW, Volkswagen was also sued by IP Bridge in the same court in Munich. The German manufacturer quickly settled the matter by purchasing a patent license from a platform called Avanci, which pooled patents from 48 owners.