Unwired Planet International Ltd v Huawei Technologies Company Ltd and Another Unwired Planet LLC (Tenth Party) Telefonaktiebolaget Ericsson (Eleventh Party)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtChancery Division (Patents Court)
JudgeMr Justice Birss
Judgment Date30 November 2017
Neutral Citation[2017] EWHC 3083 (Pat)
Docket NumberCase No: HP-2014-000005
Date30 November 2017

[2017] EWHC 3083 (Pat)




Royal Courts of Justice

Rolls Building

Fetter Lane

London EC4A 1NL


THE HON. Mr Justice Birss

Case No: HP-2014-000005

Unwired Planet International Ltd
(1) Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd
(2) Huawei Technologies (UK) Co. Ltd


Unwired Planet LLC
Tenth Party
Telefonaktiebolaget Ericsson
Eleventh Party

Thomas Jones (instructed by Enyo Law) for the Claimant

Andrew Lykiardopoulos QC and James Segan (instructed by Powell Gilbert) for the First and Second Defendants

Mark Brealey QC (instructed by Browne Jacobson LLP) for the Eleventh Party

Hearing dates: 29th June 2017

Judgment Approved

Mr Justice Birss

Judgment in the FRAND trial in these proceedings was given on 5 th April 2017. On that day two judgments were handed down. The two judgments were [2017] EWHC 705 (Pat) and [2017] EWHC 711 (Pat). I will refer to them as the 705 judgment and the 711 judgment. The 705 judgment sets out my reasoning in full. However it includes numerous references to material which at least one party claimed was confidential and should not be made public. So the 705 judgment remains confidential. In accordance with the court's usual practice the draft form of what became the 705 judgment was sent to the parties on a confidential basis some days before judgment was due to be given. The position on confidentiality was so complicated that I convened a hearing with the parties' solicitors to give directions about it. One serious practical difficulty was that different aspects were confidential to different groups of parties. The legal representatives were privy to details which they were not able to share with their clients. This is obviously not a desirable state of affairs but it had allowed the case to proceed in a practical manner.


One course would have been to give the parties more time to deal with confidentiality but that would have required a great deal more time. It is not desirable for parties to be put into a position in which they have the text of a judgment with potentially significant consequences on a confidential basis for an extended period. Moreover it was not clear that this would have worked at all because in order for representatives to take proper instructions it was necessary to have a version of the judgment which could be discussed freely with their various clients.


I took the view that provided the resulting public judgment fairly set out the reasoning in a manner which the public could comprehend, I would initially take a generous view of the claims to confidentiality in order to produce a public judgment at the same time as the full judgment was given formally. That exercise was successful, thanks in part to the parties taking a constructive approach. The result was the 711 judgment, handed down at the same time as the 705 judgment. The exercise did not mean simply accepting every claim to confidentiality and there are points in the 711 judgment which I was asked to keep confidential but refused. However the important thing is that the 711 judgment does fairly reflect the vast bulk of the court's reasoning.


Inevitably there would be a further hearing at which the confidentiality issues would be finally resolved. That would be likely to produce a third version of the same judgment. Of course having multiple versions of the same judgment is highly undesirable but in this case all the alternatives were even less welcome. I doubt any other course was practical. This judgment represents the final resolution of the confidentiality claims relating to the judgment.


The redactions now sought are less extensive than those in the 711 judgment but there remain substantial aspects which at least one party, and often more than one, wishes to redact.


I have witness statements from Timothy Elliss of Enyo Law on behalf of Unwired Planet; Peter Damerell of Powell Gilbert on behalf of Huawei, Sophie Lawrance of Bristows on behalf of Samsung and Christina Petersson, Vice-President, Head of IPR Legal Services at Ericsson. Each witness has included a table in the form of a confidential annex which works through the various paragraphs of the 705 judgment for which redaction is sought and explains the reasons why.



That justice should be done in public is a vital aspect of the rule of law. In R (Willford) v Financial Services Authority [2013] EWCA Civ 674 the Court of Appeal held at paragraph 9 (Moore-Bick LJ) that the principles of open justice require that a judgment should be published in full unless there are overriding grounds for not doing so. Also in R (Mohamed) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 2) [2011] QB 218 at paragraph 41 (Lord Judge CJ) and 176 (Lord Neuberger MR), the Court of Appeal emphasised that redactions from judgments should be "rare indeed" and that all parts should be public unless there are "powerful reasons to the contrary".


In the Patents Court it is not unusual for the court to have to deal with technical trade secrets. The confidentiality of this information is often protected by a combination of CPR r31.22, not reading the documents out in public and, on occasion sitting in private. The public form of the judgment may have such material redacted from it. The fact this happens relatively often in patent cases is not because the principles of open justice are different in those cases, far from it; it is because the particular circumstances in which it is appropriate to redact come up relatively frequently. The justification for redacting technical trade secrets is straightforward. It is because the trade secret would be destroyed if it was revealed. Even then however the redactions from judgments (or confidential annexes which amount to the same thing) will be kept to the absolute minimum and claims to confidentiality have to be justified with cogent evidence focussed on the specifics rather than on generalities.


The preservation of the confidentiality of material which was disclosed during the trial process but is not set out in the judgment raises the same basic principles, but their application in that situation is not the same. Self evidently the information is not part of the reasons the judge has given. Lilly ICOS No 2 [2002] EWCA Civ 2 is concerned with that situation. The role the information played at trial is an important factor.


None of the information which I am asked to redact is a technical trade secret. It is all information relating to licensing. The information relates mostly to the terms of existing licences although a very small amount is concerned with negotiations about those terms. Most of the information relates to the financial information, such as running royalty rates, lump sums etc., but a small amount relates to other terms in licences. A fair description of it all is commercial licensing information. All of the information relates to licences to which at least one of Unwired Planet, Huawei, Ericsson or Samsung are a party, but third parties are involved too. For example some of the information relates to other well known telecommunications and IT companies named in the 711 judgment such as Apple, Qualcomm, and ZTE while other information relates to third parties who are not named (e.g. parties M, N, O and P – see paragraph 433–445 of the 711 judgment).


Most of the commercial licensing information derives from Ericsson but it is notable that all the parties who made submissions before me orally or in writing – i.e. Unwired Planet, Huawei, Ericsson and Samsung (in writing) — ask me to redact at least some details from the 705 judgment. So I have not heard truly adversarial argument about the matter. I did wonder about appointing an amicus in this matter but it would have been disproportionate.


The commercial licensing information in issue is just the sort of information which would be taken into account in an intellectual property damages enquiry, which after all might set a reasonable royalty. So a rights holder claiming damages would have to disclose relevant IP licences. The terms of those licences, such as the royalty rates, would be critical evidence in assessing what an appropriate damages award would be. As far as I am aware that sort of information is not routinely redacted from judgments on intellectual property damages. The parties were asked about this. They did not cite any example of such a case in which that information has been redacted.


On the other hand, as Ericsson submitted, this sort of information is often redacted from judgments relating to competition law. Decisions about competition law are often redacted to remove commercial information such as pricing. Paragraph 1 of Schedule 4 of the Enterprise Act 2002 expressly provides that in preparing a decision the Competition Appeal Tribunal must have regard to the need to exclude as far as practicable (at para 1(2)(a)) information "whose disclosure would be against the public interest" and similarly to exclude (at para 1(2)(b)) "commercial information the disclosure of which would or might, in its opinion, significantly harm the legitimate business interests of the undertaking to which it relates". Counsel referred to examples of such redactions in the CAT decision Sainsbury v Mastercard [2016] CAT 11 (Barling J, Prof Beath OBE and Marcus Smith QC). In paragraphs 441, 453 and 533 financial details are redacted. Another example of the same essential principles in the competition sphere (albeit the Competition and Markets Authority rather than the CAT) was case CE/9742-13 relating to unfair pricing of the anticonvulsant drug phenytoin. Many of the actual selling prices of drugs have been redacted from the public decision.


Counsel for Ericsson submitted strikingly that another way of looking at this problem was to consider...

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4 cases
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    • Chancery Division (Patents Court)
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    ...resolved and this public form of the judgment was settled. The reasons for the redactions in this version are set out in judgment [2017] EWHC 3083 (Pat). All the changes as compared to the unredacted 705 judgment are in square bracketed italics like this paragraph. Some of the redactions ha......
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    ...of justice.” 6 To the same effect is the judgment of Birss J in Unwired Planet International Ltd v Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd [2017] EWHC 3083 (Pat)” “ Principles 7. That justice should be done in public is a vital aspect of the rule of law. In R (Willford) v Financial Services Authority ......
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