The Court of Justice of the European Union has clarified the position of standard-essential patent holders from the perspective of competition law

On Thursday 16 July, the Court of Justice of the European Union gave a judgment on the relationship between patent law and competition law. The judgment is important in principle.
The FCCA participated in the oral hearing held by the Court, together with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Agent of the Finnish Government.

In 2013, the Court received a request for a preliminary ruling from the German court Landgericht Düsseldorf on a matter concerning a standard-essential patent. Standard-essential patents refer to patents that are essential to competing companies seeking to gain market access. In most cases, such patents protect technologies needed by all companies operating in a certain field. The holder of a standard-essential patent is often committed to licensing the patent under fair, reasonable and non-discriminating terms and conditions. However, if an agreement is not reached on such terms and conditions, the patent holder may bring an action for an injunction against any person who uses a patented invention.

The Court confirmed that, in certain situations, bringing an action for an injunction may constitute a breach of competition law and abuse of market dominance. This judgment is also in line with the opinions presented by Finland in the hearing.
The preliminary ruling serves as new case law in the interrelationship between immaterial rights and competition law.

Judgment in Case C-170/13, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd versus ZTE Corp., ZTE Deutschland GmbH.