Delhi High Court finds CCI Competent
In the most recent development in the Ercisson versus CCI battle, the Delhi High Court on the 30th of March, 2016 has dismissed the petition filed by Ericsson in the case of Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (Publ). v. Competition Commission of India & Anr. In the order passed by Justice Vibhu Bakhru, the court stated that ”Merely because certain reliefs sought by Micromax and Intex before CCI are also available in proceedings under the Patents Act does not exclude the subject matter of the complaints from the scope of the competition act. An abuse of dominant position under Section 4 of the Competition Act is not the cause that can be made a subject matter of a suit or proceedings before a civil court”. The court sustained the jurisdiction of Competition Commission of India (CCI) to enquire anti-competitive practices including the abuse of dominant position.
The court order has also added that all the observations made and views expressed are in the context of the jurisdiction of the CCI and should be construed as an expression of opinion – prima facie or otherwise on the merits of the allegations made by Micromax and Intex.
In the early 2013, Micromax and Intex had filed complaints with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) claiming that Ericsson had abused its position of dominance and was demanding extremely high royalties for the use of its SEP’s. Ericsson has large SEP’s in respect of technologies that are used in mobile communications. With regard to Micromax, CCI passed orders on November 12th, 2013 that the royalties ‘had no linkage to the patented product’ and were thus ‘discriminatory as well as contrary to FRAND terms. The conclusion of the Intex case was passed on January 16th, 2014 which was also similar to that of Micromax. The CCI had concluded that charging different licensing fees inorder to use same technology from different users is primarily against FRAND terms.
However, the Swedish Telecom Equipment maker Ericsson challenged the order of CCI by filing a petition against CCI at the Delhi High Court in W.P No. (C) 464/2014 in the early 2014. According to Ericsson, the orders passed by CCI were without jurisdiction and argued that any issues relating to a claim for royalty would fall within the scope of Patents Act, 1970 and cannot be investigated under the Competition Act.
The litigation with regard to the royalty demands however continues in the Delhi High Court where Micromax and Intex have had to pay royalties to the patent holders.
Authored by Anjali Santosh