Joff Wild

The IPEG blog contains a link to a story written by Dow Jones correspondent Stuart Weinberg on the latest developments in the IP-Com v Nokia dust-up (in which I am quoted). Among the new details to emerge is that IP-Com is now also taking action against the Taiwanese company High Tech Computer Corporation (HTC) and had managed to obtain a preliminary injunction against the company, preventing the sale of the HTC Dual Touch in Germany. This has now been stayed, however, and a hearing on the matter is scheduled for next week.

Also included in the article is an interview with IP-Com’s managing director Christoph Schoeller, who denies that the company is a patent troll. Instead, he says: “We're far away from that because, at least how I understand patent trolls, you have people who buy two, three, or four patents...and then just annoy companies with nuisance lawsuits … We are on a serious licensing programme.” In other words, IP-Com is exactly what a lot of people would describe as a troll!

According to Schoeller, IP-Com now owns a portfolio of around 1,000 patents in the 2G, 2.5G and 3G GSM space, and he claims that one quarter of its patents are integral to the GSM standard; Schoeller also stated that IP-Com “paid a fortune” to acquire the rights from Bosch, which triggered the action with Nokia. In total, he says, his company is negotiating with 20 organisations about taking out licences to use what IP-Com owns.

All in all, it s a fascinating article that also discusses – as this blog has – why Germany has all the makings of a potential venue for troll-like organisations to prosper: it is cheap, it is quick and, best of all, you are likely to get an injunction if you win. It is noteworthy that, while the article states IP-Com owns US patent rights, it has chosen to take its first action in Germany nonetheless. My guess is that this is precisely because it understands that it stands to gain more leverage, much more quickly and far less expensively by doing so.

Also very interesting is the revelation of IP-Com’s relationship with Frohwitter, a Munich-based IP firm started in 1998 by Bernhard Frohwitter, who also helped to found that pillar of the German IP establishment, Bardehle Pagenburg. Weinberg states that Frohwitter part-owns IP-Com, along with the Schoeller Group and the US hedge fund the Fortress Investment Group. Bernhard Frohwitter acted for Bosch (in German only) when that company was pursuing Nokia in relation to the patents it subsequently sold to IP-Com. Christoph Schoeller, and his brother Martin, are both listed as advisors to Frohwitter firm on its website. In Bernard Frohwitter, IP-Com has access to someone who knows the German patent litigation scene backwards and who is highly regarded within it