Just recently, we reported on a court ruling against Ford that hit the entire automotive industry like a bomb. The U.S. carmaker was not only prohibited from continuing to sell its vehicles in Germany. On top of that, the court obliged it to buy back cars as part of a recall campaign and then destroy them. But now the iconic U.S. company seems to be getting its neck out of the noose.
A ruling with an impact
It was hard to believe when the judges of the LG Munich ruled on Ford’s future in Germany just under a week and a half ago. In addition to a general sales ban, the U.S. automaker was also hit with the obligation to destroy 100,000 vehicles. The reason for all this was massive infringements of patent law. Ford used 2G, 3G and 4G technology for which it had no licenses. This is to change now, in order to avoid the serious economic consequences of the judgement. The company has announced that it intends to acquire the corresponding licenses for the mobile technology.
This has once again made it abundantly clear that a veritable El Dorado is opening up for mobile communications companies. As vehicles become more and more modern, it is no longer just smartphones, tablets and notebooks that are making money. Cars are also dependent on modern connectivity in order to meet the demands of today’s customers. This is not only true for entertainment and navigation purposes. Modern mobile communications standards have been mandatory in cars for some time. After all, they must be able to make the so-called e-call – an emergency call for serious traffic accidents. For Ford, the license purchase is associated with 15 euros per car. That’s certainly better than a sales ban.
Worldwide court cases
Now, of course, the question arises as to what made Ford change its mind so quickly. Couldn’t they have simply done without the German market? After all, the company makes most of its money in the U.S. anyway. But Ford was not only threatened with a sales ban in Germany. Worldwide, lawsuits were filed by mobile phone providers against the U.S. automaker. Even in the USA this was the case. In the end, there was simply no alternative for the company to take the step of buying the license. Otherwise, a total economic failure of global proportions would have been imminent. The verdict of the Munich Regional Court was a kind of precedent for Ford in this respect, as the judges were the quickest to come to a decision. However, the purchase of the licenses should have settled the other pending court cases anyway. After all, there is now no longer any infringement of patents in the offing.
Lucrative business with mobile licenses
At first glance, 15 euros in license costs per vehicle may not sound like a lot of money. But it is important to keep in mind that Ford also has to pay these costs retroactively. Every car ever sold by the giant US automaker that has the corresponding technology on board requires the appropriate license. It is still uncertain exactly how many of these will be required. It is also uncertain whether Ford will comment on this. This clearly shows that there is a lot of money to be made with mobile licenses these days. So it is also worthwhile to go to court against large car companies. After all, previous lawsuits against industry giants such as VW and Daimler have also been successful.
Here, too, the Avanci patent association was able to achieve victories and subsequently collect a hefty payment. Such rulings also have an impact on modern automakers. For example, the young e-car manufacturers Tesla, Lucid and Rivian have already decided in advance to buy licenses from Avinci. But Ford is by no means the last car giant to buy 4G licenses. A look at the Asian market makes it clear that there are still many manufacturers who sell their models despite the lack of a license. Toyota and Hyundai in particular are still without a “ticket”. We are curious to see how long this will continue to go well for the large corporations from the Far East.