Vodafone is trying to neutralize a millionaire demand in London filed by the Spanish company Top Optimized Technologies (TOT). The lawyers of the British operator asked the High Court of Justice of England and Wales for a telematic hearing, held this Tuesday, in which they asked that the trial be postponed, according to sources familiar with the situation consulted by El Confidencial.
The former Vodafone partner asks you to be held accountable for plagiarism, patent infringement, breaches of contract and improper use of information, among other allegations. However, the operators’ lawyers request that the trial be delayed until a similar case is resolved that is pending appeal in Spain, for which TOT was claiming Vodafone and Huawei more than 500 million of euros.
At the time, an expert report from the consulting firm Ernst & Young (EY) calculated the compensation between 300 and 500 million, with the option of multiplying it based on certain technical variables until reaching the 1,500 million.
Vodafone has requested the suspension of this case in the islands by virtue of a European Union regulation, which establishes that when two different courts are adjudicating related cases, the court can suspend the proceedings to avoid contradictory sentences. “The processing of this procedure should be suspended until the Spanish court of appeal has made a decision,” say official Vodafone sources, adding that, “in any case, TOT’s accusations against Vodafone are unfounded.”
In addition, he considers that if there is a person responsible, it is Huawei: “The procedure against Vodafone in the United Kingdom is based on an alleged violation of Huawei, which a Spanish court has already rejected,” they explain from the operator. On the other hand, the lawyers of the British giant could claim abuse of use of cuts by TOT. That is, to go to different courts with the aim that one of them may rule in favor of their interests.
Vodafone: “The processing of the procedure should be suspended until the Spanish court of appeal has made a decision”
At the end of 2019, the Mercantile Court number 7 of Madrid dismissed a lawsuit filed by Top Optimized Technologies (TOT) against Vodafone and the Chinese manufacturer Huawei for patent infringement. The lawsuit, which dates back to 2016, accused both multinationals of breach of contract, disclosure of industrial secrets and ‘know how’, plagiarism of patents, infringement of patents, unfair competition and consequent compensation for damages.
After the ruling, the Spanish company, which has refused to comment, decided to appeal, although in this case most of the appeal in Spain is directed against Huawei. However, before reaching this scenario, the Justice in Spain had ruled that I was not competent to resolve potential irregularities on contracts signed under British law, hence the plaintiff later charged before the UK Justice and understands that they are illegal other than those reported in Spain.
Blow to Vodafone and Huawei: a Spanish startup demands 508 million for plagiarism
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If the postponement is granted, the substantive issue to be resolved could take years. Like the quantification of damages, which would arrive ‘a posteriori’, although the possibility of an out-of-court settlement always hovers over these cases. Unlike Spain, in the United Kingdom or the USA you can request a proceso de ‘disclosure’ o ‘discovery’, by which the judge could request all the internal information that is in the possession of both companies in order to discern the responsibility of each one.
The origin of this litigation goes back five years. TOT registered four patents in 2002 for mobile phones to optimize the use of the 3G network, which is very useful in crowded environments like a crowded stadium. With this application, TOT started a relationship with Vodafone in 2005 that ended in 2015, when the operator pointed out that Huawei had developed similar technology. It was after that that TOT sued for infringement of its patents.
This is not the first time that this consulting and development company has faced a technology giant. The Spanish firm has already accused Xiaomi of infringing patents on three mobiles that it presented at the Mobile World Congress in 2018.