The Chinese smartphone manufacturer Oppa is no longer allowed to sell its phones in Germany. The reason for this is an infringement of a Nokia patent. The company has decided not to take a license and to say goodbye to the German market. A smartphone shortage could be the result.
Munich 1 Regional Court imposes sales ban
The Munich 1 Regional Court has ruled in favor of Nokia in its dispute with Oppo and imposed a sales ban. Prior to this, a Mannheim court had already ruled in favor of Nokia. Oppo is thus forced to either conclude a licensing agreement with Nokia or withdraw from the German market. The Chinese company is taking the latter step. Shortly after the court decision, all smartphone offers had already disappeared from the brand’s website. Thus, the recently presented powerful A77 5G also disappears from the market again. In addition to the models running under the Oppo name, those sold under the OnePlus brand name are also affected. Overall, around ten percent of the smartphone range in Germany is likely to be lost.
Florian Müller of Fosspatents commented on the decision to Wirtschaftswoche as follows: “The battle with mobile patents thus reaches a new dimension. It is the most far-reaching product enforcement ever to take place in Germany.”
More patent suits pending
In fact, the decision could merely mark the beginning of a whole series of restrictive patent rulings. For example, Nokia is currently also suing Vivo, which belongs to the same group as Oppo. In addition, a lawsuit by Ericsson against Apple is pending. It appears that the patent dispute is not limited to Germany. Nokia is also taking legal action against Oppo in the Netherlands, the UK, France, Spain, Finland and Sweden. It is possible that the current locally limited sales ban could be significantly expanded in the course of these further lawsuits – which would ultimately either force Oppo from the market or force it to conclude a licensing agreement.
Smartphones could become scarce
In addition to the fundamental issues raised by the ruling, there are also very practical consequences for the smartphone market. The sales ban against Oppo already eliminates around ten percent of the supply. If Nokia also wins against Vivo, another ten percent of the range could disappear. Together with the currently prevailing chip shortage, this results in an enormous decrease in smartphone supply while demand remains strong. Oppo, OnePlus and possibly Vivo from the lower price segment are affected. Overall, everything points to price increases.
Resellers are still allowed to sell stocks that already exist today and theoretically even organize supplies from abroad; however, it is likely that Nokia will prevent supplies via a customs seizure. Further developments remain to be seen.