US DOJ Moves to Insert Itself in Automotive Antitrust Lawsuit

  • May 24, 2020
  • Category: Patent Litigation Feature
    Market Sector: Automotive

In May 2019, Continental Automotive Systems, characterizing itself as “a leading provider of cutting-edge automotive components” and a willing licensee, filed suit in the Northern District of California against patent pool administrator Avanci LLC and several of the patent owners participating in its licensing program: Conversant Wireless Licensing, S.à.r.l. (f/k/a Core Wireless Licensing S.a.r.l.), Nokia, Brevet Capital (Optis Wireless Technology, LLC, Optis Cellular Technology LLC), and Sharp (5:19-cv-02520). Continental pleads antitrust violations of both Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, also asking the court for, among other things, a declaratory judgment that it is entitled to a license to certain 2G, 3G, and 4G standard essential patents (SEPs), held by the defendants, on fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms. While a motion to dismiss remained pending, the California court transferred the case to the Northern District of Texas, after which the US Department of Justice (DOJ) suddenly, in February 2020, moved for leave to file a statement of interest—a method that the DOJ has increasingly utilized to add its voice to the SEP antitrust debate.

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